Today marks the 7th full day I have been in Belfast, Northern Ireland preparing to embark on an educational journey. I am in a completely new environment, living alongside others from around the world, and acclimating to a different money system. I am enrolled in Stranmillis University College. To Americans, this name may sound odd, considering our standard way of communicating about higher education. Personally, it was not until the second day here when I finally understood the differences. Stranmillis is the teaching college of Queen’s University Belfast. Imagine if Drake’s education building on University Avenue had it’s own land, separate name and multiple buildings about ½ mile from the center of campus.
Although it is different, I am very impressed with the amount of amenities provided solely for teacher education. We have our own dining hall, main lecture buildings, library, residence halls, student unions, and administrative building. We are just a wee walk from the City Centre and most stores in Belfast, as well. The first few days were jam packed with informational sessions, group trips to grab necessities and time spent sipping on tea while getting to know others in our program.
The overarching emotion I felt throughout the first week was being genuinely welcomed. From every staff member to the program coordinator to students on campus, people would always greet me by saying “Yer very welcome here. So glad yee could join us.” There is not a doubt in my mind that they really meant it. Resources such as the Students Union, International Office and Dr. Audrey Curry have supported our transition very well. I feel comfort to ask questions from how do I do laundry to what is the purpose of education.
I can tell I will be learning more about myself both as a teacher and individual while I am away from America for 10 weeks. I am excited to start experiencing life in Northern Ireland from inside and outside of the classroom within my time here!