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My Go Global Adventure: Iowa, USA

Every year over 900 Queen’s students take the opportunity to go outside Northern Ireland to study or gain work-related experience. Louis Anthony, a Psychology student is one of them. Read how they got on..

What shocked you the most during your time abroad?

Whenever I went out on the Study USA programme, I never realised how different American culture really was to Northern Irish culture. I think it probably took me the guts of the first semester to really adapt to it. Not necessarily adapt to it but learn about it and really know the boundaries within it. But I think going forward, looking to my career, I’ll be able to reference that in interviews with how I was able to adapt to the culture and interact so positively with so many people from different cultures and from around the world at an American college. You know, I made friends out there that are absolutely going to be friends for life. I love the American culture, I love their humour, I love their optimism, I love the whole vibe you got off them. So, it’s definitely something I’ll be able to use in future job opportunities about how well I interacted with people from the American culture and also other international cultures.

What did you learn about yourself?

During my time in America, I realised I had skills I didn’t initially think I had. I was initially very worried about being home-sick and not being able to adapt to the culture but I realised, actually, I am very adaptable, when I went over there, which is something I was quite proud of. Obviously at the start I was kind of nervous and wasn’t sure how I’d be able to adapt to the culture and had a fair bit of self doubt but I think by just putting myself out there and, like, making myself feel uncomfortable I naturally became more adapted to the American culture. I feel proud of the fact that I was able to adapt and make the most of the year I was given. You know, I look back on it so fondly and I wish I could do it again to be honest but I feel proud that I was able to make the most of it and not let my self-doubt get in the way.

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My Go Global Adventure: Università degli studi di Trento, Italy

Every year over 900 Queen’s students take the opportunity to go outside Northern Ireland to study or gain work-related experience. Cate Benson, a law student is one of them. Read how they got on..

What skills did you learn during your Erasmus trip abroad?

It honestly taught me so many skills, like it made me a lot more independent, I would say, like, as I said, I’d lived away from home, but it’s not the same if you’re not, you know, coming home every Friday, giving your mummy your washing or something, you know, it’s properly living by yourself in a different country. You don’t know anybody, you have to learn to sort things out for yourself and even, like, on the trips we went on obviously things went wrong. You got lost. You know, there’s always something going wrong. So, really helped problem-solving skills, like you just had to learn to deal with it and move on and be resilient, maybe, even that too

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My Go Global Adventure: Toulouse France

Every year over 900 Queen’s students take the opportunity to go outside Northern Ireland to study or gain work-related experience. Lydia Hossain, a Common and Civil Law with French student is one of them. Read how they got on.. 

Tell us about yourself.

Hi, my name is Lydia Hosain and I’m from County Donegal. I am studying Common and Civil Law with French at Queen’s University Belfast and the language part of my degree made it so that I had the opportunity of spending time abroad in my third year.

Lydia (3rd from right) with friends

Where did you go and why?

I travelled to Toulouse for my Erasmus year, spending a full academic year studying in UT 1. I decided on Toulouse because it’s really student-friendly and it has great weather. I took the plane to France with my mum and spent a few days holidaying; getting to know La Ville Rose.

Who was the first person you met?

I quickly realised that Toulouse has a real supportive international student community as, although I felt really nervous in my introduction week, the first person that I met was an Italian student called Leonardo who helped settle my nerves and introduced me to other students who became my friends. I participated in Erasmus student-network events, the SN, which helped welcome newcomers and I quickly realised that everyone was going through the same thing.

What was the biggest culture shock?

Having visited France many times before, I was fairly surprised by the different culture of Toulouse, with its Occitan and Spanish influence and, honestly, how well-dressed French students were.

What was the most exciting part? Most memorable moment?

There were many highlights but the stand out one for me was just having complete freedom and being in a completely different country and having access to fantastic public transport that can take you anywhere around the city. But the most important one for me was making the most amazing friends and just the feeling, not to be cliché, but that the feeling that you can reinvent and truly find yourself. There were many memorable moments during my time abroad but, if I had to pick a few, it would be the one Euro train tickets that I was able to get to travel to towns all around Toulouse, travelling across Europe, experiencing cultural events where I was able to taste wine and cheese from all across the region and I even visited my first rugby match in Toulouse stadium and it was just amazing.

What knowledge and insight did you gain to help your career?

While I’m still studying, I can definitely say that I improved my transferrable work skills through working in hospitality in Toulouse where I learned a completely different work culture and definitely gained resilience to adapt to new situations. Working abroad, it really made me consider working in different countries in the future as well. So, I think that it has widened my choices for the future.

How was your time abroad different to what you had imagined?

One thing I discovered was that it’s definitely not lying when it’s said that France loves its paperwork. Bureaucracy is definitely a thing, however, I quickly adapted to it and realised that as long as you work with it and not against it, you’ll be fine. And I learned how resilient I am as an individual through all the processes and all the procedures that I had to go through. My year abroad was, honestly, better than I had imagined. Although time flew by, I spent it with friends, volunteering with the SN and ‘Les Piafs de la Rue’, helping homeless people and really just getting out and exploring the city and seeing what Toulouse had to offer.

How did you meet people?

I chose to live in student accommodation where I was immersed in the student experience and I made many new friends and met so many new people and I learned, really, a lot of things about different cultures. Through my volunteering role, I met and made really close friends, all of whom were international students just like me. The people that I met really inspired me as they were just themselves. They were educated in different countries, knew many more languages than me and they just had a really relaxed attitude about travelling and living in Europe that really inspired me.

In what ways has the experience built your confidence?

Through my experience, my confidence has really grown. Where I would have said “no” to an opportunity in the past, now I say, “why not?” I know I’ve really grown in myself and believe my outlook on life has definitely changed.

What advice do you have for fellow students who want to experience a similar time abroad?

The advice I would give is to really do your research beforehand and that going solo can be daunting but it’s really well worth it. And I would say to take every opportunity as it comes as the year is so incredibly short, to connect with people, and just have fun.

In what way do you feel you made a difference in your time abroad?

I feel that I made a difference through the friendships I made with others, being there for people when they needed it most and through helping the local homeless charities in my time volunteering; I found it was very rewarding.

What skills have benefited you the most?

The skills that would have benefitted me most is that I’m a people person. I love to communicate with others; I find it easy to make friends. I’m adaptable to new situations in the university and work and I found that having a sense of adventure really helped.

What’s the one thing you will never forget about your time abroad?

One thing I’d love to forget about my time abroad are all those mosquito bites but one thing I’d certainly remember are all the friendships that I made and how they helped me grow as a person. I would definitely recommend taking a year abroad or a Global Opportunity to any student studying at Queen’s.

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My Go Global Adventure: Arkansas USA

Every year over 900 Queen’s students take the opportunity to go outside Northern Ireland to study or gain work-related experience. Daniella Timperley, a Queen’s Broadcast Production student is one of them. Read how they got on.. 

Daniella in Las Vegas

What was your highlight of your time abroad?

I think the part of the experience that will stay with me the longest would be the community aspect of student life on campus. There was always something going on in campus mall, such as food trucks, volleyball tournaments and even an international DJ came to play a concert for the students. Another part of the community aspect would be sports events, which was one of the parts of American college that I was most excited about. I think I went to almost every basketball, baseball, soccer match there was to support friends and just go with friends on the weekend for fun.

Daniella at the University of the Ozarks

What knowledge and insight did you gain to help your career?

I feel so much more informed about business as I’m a broadcast production student at Queen’s University in Belfast. So, taking all business classes was something I had to adapt to and it was very, very different for me. I got the opportunity to take public speaking, communication classes, marketing classes, survey of management and it was really, really interesting and I feel like I can take that business knowledge with me in the future. I just loved having the opportunity to take classes that I wouldn’t have the opportunity to take at home.

Which of your skills did you use the most?

A skill I used the most was probably listening. I learned a lot about issues in America just from living there such as gun violence, racism and healthcare. I also learned a lot just from talking to my American friends and how their experiences differed from state to state. And it was really, really interesting and really eye-opening for me.

How was your time abroad different to what you had imagined?

I never imagined I would be struggling to adapt to food in the United States, but I really, really struggled with this for the first couple of months. I wasn’t expecting food to be an issue, I always imagined food in America, to be way, way, way better than home, but I eventually was able to overcome this issue with friends cooking me their home cooked meals and driving me to Walmart for groceries.

Daniella at Universal Studios

What were the people you met like?

I met so many great people during my time abroad. I met people from not only the United States, but from the Bahamas, France, Costa Rica, Haiti and Malaysia. I loved how all of them were so proud of their cultures and wanted to cook us meals from their home country. Even the first friend I met at the University brought me home to her island in the Bahamas and brought me to family get-togethers and give me a tour of her Island, Nassau.

Daniella at Radio City Music Hall

In what ways did the people you met inspire you?

The people I met really inspired me to learn more about other cultures, because this is one of the things I enjoyed most about my study abroad. I just like trying new foods, hearing stories about myths and legends, and I want to go and visit more of their countries, this inspiration kind of started when I met my friends, but I was even more inspired after my trip to the Bahamas. I didn’t stay in a five-star Resort. I stayed in their homes, learning about the real bohemian experience.

In what ways has the experience built your confidence?

I overcame self doubt by sticking with it and not jumping on a plane to come home if I was having a rough couple of days. I became a lot more confident in myself. Before I thought I didn’t like change even though I’m an extremely ambitious person. But I found out that I really enjoyed the independence that came along with studying abroad and meeting new people.

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Study USA: My Time in North Carolina

Phoebe Craddock-Bligh, Queen’s History and Politics student spent a year at William Peace University Raleigh, NC, as part of the Study USA programme. Here is how she got on:

I applied to take part in the Study USA programme after hearing about it at the Go Global Fair two years ago. I also attended other talks but decided that Study USA was the one for me. In a very boring and practical way Study USA was the most economical way for me to take a year out and to be honest that was my driving factor in applying (that and REALLY wanting to go to America). – Getting accepted was just the biggest rush and it just goes to show you, if you don’t apply you won’t ever know- so why not take the risk?

Learning a new subject

I was placed by Study USA in William Peace University in Raleigh, NC with the primary goal of studying business classes and gaining an understanding of American culture. As a History and Politics student I was initially nervous about taking business classes, especially as I hadn’t taken a maths class since 2016! There were moments where I did struggle (especially in micro and macroeconomics) but I quickly realised that it wasn’t just me who was finding the content hard- the whole class was, which was quite the relief. 

Through some hard work, a bit of mentoring and wonderful and caring teaching staff, I ended the semester with a distinction from the Dean and a 4.0 GPA! I was also pleasantly surprised at how interesting I found the business classes, plus I was able to take 1 elective per semester, so alongside organisational behaviour and marketing, I tried out completely new classes such as creative writing and women’s studies. In short – don’t rule out applying for Study USA just because you’re not a business student. The business skills I gained made me feel stronger in my position going forward into my career, and I’m grateful I had the chance to learn more about business in such a unique way.

A taste of the USA

Now for the fun stuff: living in the States was amazing! I loved every second, even when I wasn’t loving it. When I was presented with the reality of returning home pre-lockdown, I was distraught to be leaving so soon and not getting to finish the year on a high. Of course, I’m still incredibly grateful that I had the opportunity and the experiences I did. I got to visit NYC, explore Washington DC, take a Spring Break road trip to the mountains, and even a 9-hour drive to Florida (and back- we should have flown). And, of course, explore plenty of North Carolina. One of my favourite parts of being in The South was the BBQ! I can’t even write this without thinking about North Carolinian chopped BBQ, coleslaw and vinegar based hot sauce – and then there was the Mexican food! Sorry Boojum, but I’ve seen the light.

Joining the frat pack

Ultimately though, my favourite memories of my time in the States are less to do with all the cool places I got to see, and more to do with my friends and experiencing American college life. I thought I was prepared for the ‘American college experience’, I’d seen the films I thought I knew the craic. One thing I was not ready for was the sheer level of enthusiasm I was met with. From day one I became a Pacer, embroiled in college tradition and part of tight knit, caring community. I loved all the free merch we got to show off our ‘Pacer pride’, the welcome dinners on the front lawn and the events put on for students. Weekdays were always so busy with sports games (I’m now an avid basketball fan), ice cream socials or movie screenings, not to mention several failed Zumba classes. It was great being so involved. 

Treasured friendships

My friends made my year though. I met some of the most fantastic people (and of course some not so great ones – but that’s just life!). I got particularly lucky with my suitemate Shawntez though. We met in the bathroom, where so many great female friendships begin, and were pretty much inseparable after that. What I miss the most from my time on Study USA is the people. It’s cringey but it’s true. It was my friends who made 8am classes bearable, or broke up the tedium of cafeteria food with weeknight trips to Wendy’s for burgers. My favourite memory with Shawntez was the NC State Fair. We accidentally parked 2 miles away, refused to wait for the shuttle bus so walked down a highway in the rain only to queue for 40 minutes just to get inside. But you know what, we still had the best time. Our night ended at 1am with a giant turkey leg, chocolate dipped cheesecake, and an entire deep fried onion. An initial disaster turned into the best memory.

Interested?

Your main reason for studying abroad might not be to meet amazing friends you will inevitably have to leave, but it’s these people who end up making the day to day life, classes, homework and missing home enjoyable. 

Sometimes I scroll though my camera roll looking at my photos from last year, and it still doesn’t always feel real. The experiences I had genuinely changed how I look at and approach the world in the best possible way, and my resilience has increased 10 times over. It wasn’t all plain sailing. Naturally there were times when I longed to go home and see my family, but I would do the whole thing all over again in a heartbeat if I could, the bad and the good. 

If you’re even the tiniest bit considering that you might like to spend some time studying abroad, I would encourage you to take the plunge and apply. Start the process and you never know how far you might get. 

Find out more about Study USA by joining our information session on Oct 20 and Nov 3

Register via our events page

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29 Amazing Companies To Meet at the Go Global Fair 2020

Who’s ready to shake off 2020? You can start planning the 2021 you deserve at Go Global Week from 12-15 October. Culminating in the virtual Go Global Fair on 14 October, this is your chance to chat to organisations that can offer you an experience of a lifetime to study, work or volunteer abroad during your degree. Here is just a snapshot of some of the organisations you can meet.

American Summers

Summer camp jobs Stateside

British Council – Study USA 

Spend a full academic year at an American college or university studying business or business and STEM (Science, Engineering, Technology and Maths).

British Council – IAESTE

Are you a science, engineering, technology or applied arts student? From electronics in Japan to earthquake detection technology in Colombia, an IAESTE placement is a guaranteed way to boost your career. 

BUNAC

Life-changing global work and travel

Camp America

Offering cultural exchange USA summer jobs in America.

Campus France UK

By studying in France, you will discover a diverse country with a rich and multi-cultural history.

CRCC Asia

Internships Abroad in China, Japan, South Korea, Vietnam, India. 

Erasmus Programme – Study and Work 

Exciting opportunities for UK participants to study, work, volunteer, teach and train abroad in Europe.

EcoSwell

The aim of EcoSwell’s volunteer internship program is to drive the creation and implementation of our sustainability projects, whilst transforming our volunteer-interns into agents of change.

First Derivatives

As recruiter Jordan Hendricks recently told us at an Employer Panel: “Our graduate recruits have gone to New York, London, Australia, Munich – you can go anywhere where we have clients. There is a big social aspect to it as well.”

Global Volunteering International (GVI)

Worldwide sustainable development programs.

Gotoco

Funded and free summer camps and TEFL in China.

Habitat for Humanity

Help families around the world build and improve places to call home.

Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (JET)

An official Japanese Government scheme aiming to improve foreign language teaching in schools and to promote international understanding.

Jameson International Graduate Programme

Kick-start your career in marketing on a global stage.

Opportunity China

A gateway to exciting and enriching teaching opportunities in China.

Meddeas

Teach English in Spain

Mountbatten Institute

Connecting top global businesses with the brightest young professionals.

Pagoda Projects

Internships in China, Vietnam and Mexico.

Politrip

Short-term volunteer placements on international political campaigns

Raleigh International

Work in remote, rural areas to improve access to safe water and sanitation.

Rian Immigrant Center 

Provides Irish students and graduates with the opportunity to gain professional skills and experience across the U.S.

The Student Language Bureau

Work placements abroad for UK modern language students.

University Exchange Programme to Australia and Canada

Spend a year or a semester studying in Canada or Australia.

USA Summer Camps

Your perfect summer job is waiting.

US-UK Fulbright Commission

Scholarships for postgraduate study in the US

University of Poitiers

Study in Poitiers, France

Work the World

Tailor-made electives and placements in Africa, Asia and Latin America.

Washington Ireland Program

The Washington Ireland Program (WIP) inspires and develops promising leaders through a program of personal development, policy debate and community service.

Register for the Go Global Fair here: