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!

Oktoberfest

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!

Halloween

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:  http://www.friendshipfour.com

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

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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.

 

Coping With the Physical and Mental Strain of Studying Abroad

manchester: on the road

By Imogen Henry-Campbell, Case Western Reserve University, USA

Studying on a year abroad is one of the best opportunities that you will ever have in your life. Meeting new people, being in a different culture and learning to be completely independent are incredible skills to have, but studying abroad can also be extremely tough, especially if you get ill. I, unfortunately found myself in the hospital after a month in and although it was hard, I am feeling much better.

As a student who has also suffered from anxiety and stress-related problems, year abroad can be especially tough on your health. So these are my tips for coping with the mental and physical strain of being abroad:

  • If you are feeling sad or homesick, speak to someone about it. I can’t stress how much better I have felt after just explaining to someone how I feel. If someone asks ‘how…

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Thriving Industries of the North of Ireland

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Northern Ireland traditionally had a strong industrial economy, focusing on linen production and shipbuilding. At one point Belfast possessed one of the world’s largest shipyards. These shipyards built the world’s most famous ship; The Titanic, most recently celebrated through the recent completion of Titanic Belfast, the world’s largest Titanic visitor center. The center allows visitors to learn about the thriving industry, city and people who made the now notorious Titanic. Although, this industrial economy is a much prided part of Belfast’s history, it is very much in the city’s past.

The North of Ireland now has a developed manufacturing and engineering industry and is home to many companies specializing in areas such as; aerospace & defense, electronics, construction and consumer products. This is one of the largest sectors in Northern Ireland accounting for 11% of employment.

Additionally, Belfast has made a name for itself in one of technology’s fastest growing areas, financial technology. A combination of a highly qualified workforce, competitive operating costs have helped to encourage and support this growth. As a result many financial services giants such as Citi, The Allstate Corporation, Liberty Mutual and Chicago Mercantile Exchange have thriving offices here.

Another rapidly growing industry is the creative industry, specializing in cultivating creative talent for commercial purposes. This involves areas such as film and television production, performing arts, music, visual effects and design. In particular, recent years have seen high profile television productions, such as Game of Thrones and The Fall, film in Northern Ireland.