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From Northern Ireland to the United States

By Katelin Archer, Alvernia University

Nov 25, 2019

I come from a place quite different from here in Berks County. Although the language spoken is the same, there is a lot that differs. Such differences include mannerisms, humor, and the environment. My name is Katelin, and I am originally from London, England; however, I am studying for my Economics degree at Queen’s University Belfast in Northern Ireland. Just a short one-hour flight away from my home. So, why am I here in Reading, PA? I am on a program organized by my country in collaboration with my school to study abroad year here in the United States. I have been here for two months and am loving it so far!

As I mentioned, although I am from England, for the past two years of my life, I have been living in Belfast, Northern Ireland, while I earn my degree. Much like Reading, Belfast is a very vibrant up and coming city. It has a buzzing arts and social scene, historic pubs, big-brand shopping, and a friendly welcoming populace. Moreover, it is located just a two-hour drive away from Dublin- another fantastic city. Belfast is located in County Antrim, one of Northern Ireland’s six counties. Northern Ireland is an exceptionally compact country where everything is accessible. You can drive from the city to the coast to the countryside in just a few hours. It is a beautiful country, voted the happiest place in the UK. Home to world-leading tourist attractions including the Titanic Museum, Giants Causeway, Marble Arch caves, and of course, the Game of Thrones film sets/scenes.

What is it like to be an international student in Pennsylvania? With the exploring I have conducted so far, including trips to Weaver’s Orchard, the Pagoda, Lancaster town and the numerous frequent visits to the mall, I am discovering more and more about the American culture and lifestyle. But I’m not finished yet; I still have so much else to see.

Despite the significant adjustment I had to make over the first few weeks of being here, I am pleased to have the break away from the city life of London and Belfast. As I walk around campus and drive through the streets of Berks County, the tree-lined views are magnificent, particularly this time of year. Albeit, the adjustments to my new environment were strange at first, but this area soon became my ‘new home.’ The most considerable changes for myself were going from bustling city life to a suburban more secluded lifestyle, the difference in student population. The student population at Queen’s University is roughly 25,000. As well as the ability to get around on foot because Belfast is a very compact, easily accessible city.

From my experience in the United States so far, I would certainly recommend studying abroad. There are numerous benefits one can reap from this — for example, personal growth. You can develop your confidence, communication skills, organizational, and management skills. Spending a year living abroad, working in a foreign environment, and dealing with challenges along the way is proof of adaptability to problem-solve. These are all qualities that are of interest to future employers. Therefore, this can impress employers because it shows you are open-minded, resourceful, and can adapt to different environments. Studying in another country provides you with an excellent opportunity to learn about other cultures and people, enhancing your network. And finally, you can travel around as well as experience and see new things.

There are various opportunities for students at Alvernia University to study abroad. Some of the places include China, France, Ireland, Costa Rica, England, and the Dominican Republic. Moreover, offered to both Alvernia University and Albright College students is the Irish America Scholars program. Both schools participate in an exchange program with five universities in Northern Ireland; you can spend up to two semesters there tuition-free! For more information on this fantastic opportunity, visit

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