Travel the Emerald Isle

Did you know that you can fit Ireland into Texas 8 times? Ireland is a very small isle and this has it perks. It means you can travel to many iconic places for a good price and a short journey. I’ve listed a few below which definitely deserve a visit!


dublinDublin is the Capital city of the Republic of Ireland and it is a perfect destination on your Irish adventure. It is home to museums, universities and of course many, many pubs. You can take a walk around the grounds at Dublin Castle, or through Trinity College’s famous library. In the warm weather, a stroll around St. Stephen’s green is a must followed by a drink in the famous Temple Bar. If you’re a fan, Dublin is home to the Guinness Storehouse where you can book yourself a tour for under €20 (Don’t forget to exchange your pounds to euro’s!!).

If you’re interested in Irish history you can’t miss visiting the General Post Office where the 1916 rebellion began, located on O’Connell street (the main street in the city). In this area you will also find a popular shopping area with a great atmosphere and if you’re lucky, some good street performers.

One way you can travel to Dublin is on the Dublin Coach M1 Express Service in just under 2 hours for €20 return. You can also travel by car, train or flight so do the research and find the best deal, you won’t regret it!


Galway is located in the West of Ireland and is known as the cultural heart of Ireland with its many festivals, celebrations and events. Much like Dublin and the rest of Ireland you will find many pubs, but Galway is known to be one of the best places to visit for traditional music, and this always guarantees a good night!

Cliffs of moherTo better the experience, think about taking a day trip tour to one of the many iconic attractions close to Galway. My favorite being the famous Cliffs of Moher to take in the beautiful sights of Ireland’s unique coast line.

There are many ways to get to Galway, but the most budget friendly is by bus. You would need to get the bus down to Dublin from Belfast for €10 and then hop on another bus to Galway for €20. This would take around 5 hours but after your research you may find its worth it!


For something a bit closer to Belfast, Donegal is the perfect escape from city life. Located in the remote North-West of Ireland, Donegal is in its own world isolated by country roads and a gorgeous coast line. If you want a pretty view, you have to visit the Inishowen Peninsula where you will find the most north-western point on the isle which is one of the best vantage points in Ireland to view the Northern Lights!

DonegalIf you like nature Donegal’s Glenveagh National Park is definitely worth a visit! Home to lakes, waterfalls, and woodlands all located in the heart of the Derryveagh mountains with even a 19th century castle to visit! This is the perfect place to get away from the city life Belfast provides, and at a reasonable journey time! 

Donegal is one of the largest counties in Ireland and so there is a lot of choice when deciding which part to visit. To reach Donegal you can by travel by train, bus or car. Lots of students decide to take a drive across the boarder as it around 2 hours away!

Summer in Belfast

Ireland is famous for the rain and cold weather, however, during the late Spring and the Summer season we can be blessed with some sun-shining days! Knowing what to do on these days can be difficult so I am going to give you a few ideas which may inspire a great trip or two.

Botanic Gardens

BotanicThe Botanic Gardens located right beside Queen’s University in the Queen’s quarter is one of my favorite spots during the summer. Whether you need a study break or a relaxed day in the park Botanic gardens is your spot.

It is also located close to Botanic road which is home to many great food places such as Boojum (personal favorite), ChipCo and Tribal Burger. If you are hungry and the weather is nice, be sure to grab something to-go and head to the gardens to enjoy your lunch in the sunshine!

Cathedral Quarter

cathedral quarterIf you fancy an artistic adventure take a stroll down the quaint streets located in the Cathedral quarter. You’ll stumble across some of the murals, and pretty light displays where you can take pictures of Northern Irish Hero’s and a Game of Throne’s tribute!

You can also stop by at one of the many pubs in this area to quench your thirst. Many play live music throughout the day adding to the buzz and providing a great atmosphere for your summer day out. On the weekends this is a big hot-spot for both locals and students so I would definitely recommend a trip down there. 


Autumn (AKA ‘Fall’) in Belfast

The Fall in Belfast, known by locals as ‘Autumn’ is a great time of year. As the leaves change color and the days get darker, there is plenty of things to immerse yourself in to get the full experience!


Since 2013 Belfast has taken on the German tradition to host its own rendition of Oktoberfest! It is a big event which lasts for the whole month of October… music to many ears. Belfast provides the full experience with music, food and of course German Beer served by the Heidi girls in full costume. You get to experience a taste of Germany without actually travelling the thousands of miles to get there!


You most certainly won’t be bored on Halloween in Belfast, there is so much to do. You can sign yourself up to one of the many ghost tours available; from the Paranormal ghost hunt to the Jail of Horror, all designed to get you spooked and into the festive spirit!

The bonus of living in the UK is the drinking age is 18+. For Halloween most students get their costumes on and head out for a night of fun. Every club and bar in Belfast has a crazy event on, so if you are planning to go out make sure you get your tickets in advance! My personal favorite is The Limelight, which is a very popular one amongst students.

There is also an annual Belfast Halloween Monster Mash and Fireworks display at the end of October! This takes place by the iconic Titanic building and so its a great sight to see!

Friendship Four Tournament

If you are 1) missing the US, 2) a fan of college sports and 3) a fan of Ice Hockey, then you have to attend the annual Friendship Four tournament that Belfast hosts every November! This year it will be hosted on Thanksgiving weekend, so it can give you a real taste of home perhaps when you need it most. The tournament hosts 4 Men’s Ice hockey teams from NCAA division 1 battling against each other to win the Belpot Trophy. The event takes place in the SSE Arena, the home of the Belfast Giants (also a great team to watch at another time). For more information visit:

Coping with Reverse Culture Shock

Returning home after studying abroad can sometimes feel a bit confusing. At first, you will probably be excited to be reunited with your friends and family, sleep in your own room and enjoy the various reassuring comforts of home. But after this excitement fades you may start to feel a bit out of place, maybe even similar to how you felt when you first began your study abroad program. This feeling is refereed to as Reverse Culture Shock and it is completely normal for students to feel this way after studying abroad. So here a few tips that will hopefully help you handle it;

1. Find a creative way to share your experience

You are going to want to tell everyone everything about your time studying in a foreign country. But unfortunately, not everyone really wants to hear your in-depth answer when they ask about your experience abroad. Don’t take it personally, most of the time this is just because they can’t really relate to what you’re telling them. A great way to counter this is by finding creative ways to share your experience with other people, not only does this make it easier to share your stories but it also helps you to document you experience in a fun way! A few good ways to do this are by; making a photo journal, cooking a dish from the country you studied in, posting your photos on social media, travel blogging or writing a review of your experience for the college newspaper.

2. Find other people who have studied abroad

Other students who have studied abroad are probably the only other people who will really understand what you’re feeling right now. So try to find other students at your college who have just returned from studying abroad. It can be comforting to talk about your reverse culture shock with people who are experiencing the same thing. This is also a great way to find interested listeners to tell about all your adventures (as long as you listen to their stories in return).

3. Keep in contact with the friends you made while studying abroad

Being back home does not mean you have to lose touch with the friends you made while studying abroad. Keeping in touch can be a little challenging, but it is definitely worth the effort! The friends you made were a key part of your experience and making a conscious effort to use Facebook, WhatsApp or Skype to keep in contact with them will help keep your study abroad memories alive.

4. Keep up your new habits

The chances are that you have probably discovered new hobbies or developed new habits. Maybe you joined a new club, began cooking for yourself, found a workout schedule you love or even just started getting up/going to bed at different times. If you found joy in these new habits, don’t just give them up. Find ways to continue including these habits and hobbies in your life. Just because your are back home does not mean that you have to live your life exactly as you did before.

5. Plan your next trip

Plan your next trip back to the county you studied in! Instead of allowing yourself to be sad that you aren’t there anymore, get yourself excited about when you’ll go back. You can start planning your next vacation or explore internship and summer job opportunities.


5 Useful Tips to Skyrocket Studying Abroad

Just as a suitcase is full of memorabilia from across the globe, you feel the excitement to starting your study abroad program. How do you consider the maximum potential of your experience? As an organized student, you prepare and plan. Likewise, what are some tips that can make meaningful experiences feel like an adventure of […]

via 5 Useful Tips to Skyrocket Studying Abroad — Center for International Education and Study Abroad

Dealing with Homesickness while Studying Abroad


Below are a few proactive tips from my experience of studying abroad on how to beat homesickness.

1. Make time to talk to people at home.

It’s completely normal to miss the people you care about at home. Leaving your loved ones can be challenging but talking to people at home can definitely help you deal with this challenge. Whether it is your family or friends, talking to the people you miss can help you to remember that they are still apart of your life and will still be there when you get home. Also, talking about your time abroad to people from home can help you realize how lucky you are to be in a completely new part of the world and what a different and exciting experience you’re having compared to your friends at home.

2. Keep busy

Keeping yourself busy can help you keep homesickness at bay. A great way to do this is by joining a new club (which is really easy to do at university). Not only can this help you to discover a new passion or relight an old one, but it can also help you make a bunch of new friends. You can also keep busy by sightseeing, going to the gym or focusing on school work. I found it helpful to make a plan at the start of each week, to help me use my time productively and make sure that I was making the most of my time abroad. The busier I made myself the more fun experiences I had ended up having and the less time I had to even think about feeling homesick. 

3. Give yourself a break

When I first began my study abroad experience, I was putting a lot of pressure on myself to have a “once-in-a-lifetime” experience. I felt guilty if I wasted a day without sightseeing or exploring the new country I was in. But eventually I realized that I had to take a few days here and there to relax. Studying abroad in a foreign country can be an exhausting (although definitely rewarding) experience and it is OK to give yourself a break. This can be going to the gym, reading a book or even taking nap, whatever it is that helps you to recharge and relax.

4. Ask for help

You are not the first study abroad student to be stressed out or confused by things in your new university. Even if you feel alone at times, the problems that you’re facing are probably the same problems that most students studying abroad have faced at some point during their experience. There are people at your university whose specific job is to help people like you and have probably helped other students deal with the same problems in the past. So ask for help! Whether this is asking for help from your university’s international office, your professors or your university’s counselling center, there is always someone willing to help.  

5. Make local Friends

If you end up at a university with a lot of other international student from the US it can be very tempting to stick with the familiar. You will be able to relate with each others’ experience in a way that local students probably won’t. But remember that a big part of studying abroad is learning about a new culture, which is done best when taught from a local perspective. So spread your wings, put yourself out there and try to befriend people from the country that you’re studying in. There are also many practical benefits to having local friends, including that they are more likely to have a car, they will have an already established friend group that you can join and they might let you stay with them over the holidays.