Thanks to the Irish American Scholars Program Past Review

By (Computer Science & Mathematics, Centre College) for

Queen's University Belfast: Belfast - Direct Enrollment & Exchange

What did you gain/learn from your experience abroad? Was it worthwhile?
Completely worthwhile.

Personal Information

If you took classes at multiple universities, list those universities here: Queen's University Belfast
The term and year this program took place: Fall 2009

Review Your Program

* Overall educational experience

Academic rigor, intensity, resources, etc.

Though I rated the academic experience quite harshly, this is not to say I didn't enjoy my academic experience. I cannot expect other schools to be at the par of the extremely high standards of Centre College. I really enjoyed the new/different experience of academics there -- it broadened my knowledge of university life. A big difference to note is that there you just have 2 or 3 things (papers, projects, etc) that determine your entire grade -- do not procrastinate on these.

* Host Country Program Administration

On-site administration of your program

The International Offices were extremely friendly and helpful!! They were very knowledable about our inquires. I didn't give them a 5 only because since there were 2 offices, it was hard to figure out which office you when to for which situation (and many of us often first went to the wrong one). Also, other Interational organizations (like the IFA, for example) were extremely welcoming and friendly as well!!

* Housing:

How satisfied were you with your living arrangements?

Much different that USA dorm living, but in a good way! The room was very clean and new-ish, there was a kitchen on every floor, and most rooms had their own bathroom (shower, toilet, sink). Though the room was quite spacious, there wasn't hardly any storage space (only shelves in the closet, only 1 drawer and 1 cabinet in the desk, and 1 tiny shelf in the bathroom). Also, it was annoying having to key into your dorm, and then into your hall, and then into your room -- it made it especially challenging to have surprise visits from frineds. <br /><br /> Location (Elms Village) was not so great - a good 20 minute walk from the academic buildings and a 40 minute walk to City Centre, which was no fun in the (practically constant) drizzle/rain. I also didn't like how they grouped together all the internationals into halls together - I would have rather been mixed in with the locals.

* Food:

I made what I wanted, so of course I liked it, haha! The food in the local restuarants is pretty average - and I'm not picky about food. So if you ARE picky about food, do not expect to like most food.

* Social & Cultural Integration:

How integrated did you feel with the local culture?

There were SOOOO many activities, clubs, organizations, etc that were very welcoming for new members. Belfast, and other surrounding towns, have tons of festivals and such as well. Be sure to check out the Christmas festival on the lawn of the City Hall!

* Safety:

We learned that Belfast is now rated the #2 safest city in the world -- and I definitely felt this was true. Some of the locals felt it wasn't safe to walk around the city at night, but we believe this was an old mentality left over from when the city was going through "The Troubles". All the internationals felt completely safe.

If you could do it all over again would you choose the same program? Yes


* Money: How easily were you able to live on a student's budget?

(1 = not very easy/$200+ on food & personal expenses/week, 2.5 = $100/week, 5 = very easily/minimal cost)

Not including program expenses, about how much money did you spend on food and other expenses each week? I spent about 20 pounds (about $30) a week on things like this. But, I'm a tight wod.... I know several others that probably spent 60 pounds (about $90) a week. It just depends on what you do!
Do you have any general money-saving tips for future study abroad participants? The biggest unanticipated expense was having to pay for the university's fitness center: about 30 pounds/month. Spending advice: Tesco is the best/cheapest place to buy groceries, always.


How would you rate your language skills at the beginning of the program? Fluent

Other Program Information

* Where did you live?

Select all that apply

  • Dorm
* Who did you live with?

Select all that apply

  • International Students
* Who did you take classes with?

Select all that apply

  • Local Students

A Look Back

* What do you know now that you wish you knew before going on this program? If you need a break from academics, this is GREAT. Also, if you want to try all kinds of new things (not just Irish, they were surprisingly internationally-diverse), this is great as well.