With its rolling green hills dotted with towering stone castles, its dense forests laced with crystal streams and its rich culture suffused with tales of ancient folklore, recent discord and modern triumphs, Northern Ireland sparks the creative imagination. Students seeking a transformative study abroad destination should consider Northern Ireland for its combination of stimulating history and contemporary energy.
Regardless of your major, a semester or a year in Northern Ireland will help broaden your perspective and help you deepen your approach to your academic pursuits. While any international experience helps to give you a unique and sophisticated worldview, if you study abroad in Northern Ireland, you’ll have the opportunity to enrich your education if a wide variety of ways.
1. You’ll appreciate the poetry of the English language
Some of the world’s most respected writers hail from Northern Ireland. C.S. Lewis, Brian Friel, John Hewitt and scores of other prolific and influential writers have created works of literature that have helped to redefine the art of storytelling for generations of readers. Moreover, students will have the opportunity to study Irish Gaelic, which perfumes both the classic and contemporary vernacular of the modern English language.
2. Your physical conditioning will improve markedly
If you want to experience the natural wonders of Northern Ireland, you’ll have to put on your sturdiest bróga siúil (walking shoes) and explore the many famous sites, including The Mourne Mountains, Giant’s Causeway, The Dark Hedges and Glenariff Waterfalls.
3. You’ll develop an in-depth appreciation for “Game of Thrones”
The lush, bucolic scenery and the abundance of beautifully preserved ancient castles have made Northern Ireland the obvious filming location for the fantastical cultural phenomenon, “Game of Thrones.” You can visit the numerous sites that have made an appearance in the popular show, including the Carnlough staircase, Ballintoy beach and the Inch Cistercian abbey.
4. You’ll become an adventurous eater
While Northern Ireland is not universally renowned for its cuisine, the region boasts some of the freshest, highest quality produce, dairy products and meats in the U.K. It’s easy to feast on the famous Ulster fry (a traditional breakfast of fried bread, grilled tomatoes and mushrooms, bacon, sausage and fried eggs), fish and chips, and soda bread, but would you sample Lough Neagh eel or black pudding? Don’t worry – Northern Ireland is also famous for Bushmills whiskey, if you need a little extra courage!
5. You’ll be more likely to engage in conversation with strangers
While many Americans (especially from big cities) are a bit hesitant to spontaneously converse with a stranger on the street, the people of Northern Ireland are chatty and gregarious. They won’t hesitate to engage you in a lively conversation about American current events, soccer or the best Mediterranean beaches. An evening at the pub is a community event, where everyone enjoys a pint and a rousing debate on the strengths of Ulster Rugby.
6. You’ll learn to really appreciate the sun
Northern Ireland isn’t the sunniest region on the planet – the hottest month in the year (July) averages roughly 59 degrees Fahrenheit – so when the sun does come out, there is rejoicing! While a Belfast heat wave might seem relatively cool to people from the Southwestern portion of the U.S., temperatures of 70 degrees are extremely rare there, so when the clouds part and the sunshine peeks through, you’ll be joining the throngs of gleeful locals heading out to the botanic gardens, parks, seaside and food markets!
7. You’ll learn that mist and rain have their charms, too
Even if you don’t particularly love wet weather, you’ll have to admit that the more-or-less constant drizzle helps to create a dazzling array of flora!
8. You’ll become more patient
The natural speed of Northern Ireland is slow. Since the weather changes on a dime, most of the population adopts a flexible attitude toward appointments, activities and obligations. You’ll learn to settle into a more relaxed groove.
9. You’ll become a lover of roots music
Music is an extremely important part of the culture in Northern Ireland. The summer months are filled with music festivals highlighting fantastic local bands and diverse international acts. Even spending an evening down at the pub will introduce you to some cherished traditional music, since there are dozens of intimate venues that feature live bands.
10. You’ll have great stories to tell for the rest of your life
Northern Ireland offers students a wonderful opportunity to explore a beautiful country while learning about a glorious heritage. With its bounty of outdoor activities, picturesque villages, thrilling nightlife and fabulous people, you’ll treasure your experience for the rest of your life.
ISEP has given students the tools and resources to embark upon a successful international education for over 40 years. We provide a broad range of study abroad programs in more than 50 countries, and connect students to some of the most respected institutions of higher learning in the world. If you want to learn more about how you can study abroad in Northern Ireland, please visit our search page to find the right program for you.
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