Tag Belfast

Irish Colleges & Universities – Part II

Ireland is certainly known for Trinity College, but what about one of its other famous universities, Queens University in Belfast?

Gates of Queen’s College

Queens is a short train ride from Dublin to Belfast (a little over two hours). Queens University has a total enrollment of about 25,000 students and was founded in 1845. According to the QS WORLD UNIVERSITY RANKINGS – 2018, Queens ranks in the top 1% of universities globally and is truly a global school. According to their website, they “pride ourselves on giving all students a world-class education; 32% of our full-time, first-degree entrants are from lower socio-economic groups, placing us 1st amongst the UK’s leading universities for widening participation. Our students are making an impact across Belfast, across Northern Ireland and further afield, contributing £297.1m every year to the local economy and harvesting 5,500 active community volunteers. What’s more, our 2,000 international students are helping to create a more inclusive campus and a more diverse city.”

Having visited Queens, I can say that it’s in a fabulous location, right next to the Ulster Museum, a free, accessible, well-planned museum featuring art, history and an exhibit on The Troubles, the decades-long civil conflict Belfast is known for and the inspiration behind many famous songs by U2, the Cranberries, and other Irish artists. There’s also adorable

Delicious hot chocolate at Maggie May’s Belfast Cafe

cafes and study stops dotting the streets, and easy public transit as well. Belfast is a city of history still recovering from The Troubles, but features a truly European education that’s steeped in history and growing diversity.

And, as mentioned in our previous blog post about Trinity College, housing can be a problem for many Irish schools, especially with the influx of international students. Queens is taking the initiative to fix that, recently boasting:

“We’ve added 1,237 new student rooms exclusively for Queen’s students, so you can rest easy living somewhere safe, comfortable and affordable.”

Many students are so locked into the colleges in America that they don’t consider the excellent opportunities abroad. Ireland is unique in that English is still a main language across the country, and features a UK-feel that is distinctly more, well, Irish. Don’t limit your search domestically if you are the kind of student who likes a little adventure! 

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A Month of Milestones

April was a month of big milestones for me: It marked 18 months since my leg surgery and the chance to get outside of my comfort zone. So I decided to take a solo trip to Ireland and just…explore. It was empowering to realize that I had control over every single second of my day. I saw Dublin and Belfast, visited castles and murals and museums, and even won a Literary Pub Crawl t-shirt (here’s to being obsessed with Oscar Wilde trivia).

I even visited some universities over there, as many of our students are considering applying to colleges like Trinity, Dublin University and other UK schools. (Link to that blog post ICYMI) But this empowerment also led me to a desire to learn more and use my newfound independence to better myself. I ask my students to consider the same thing: maybe you can’t jet off to Ireland, but can you arrange your schedule or plan experiences that inspire you to become a stronger person or a better prepper?

I also decided to run a 5K- the Race for Peace in Wheaton Regional Park on April 20. My goal was to finish without embarrassing myself (since running is still a bit hard with a metal leg), and I had been training for it for a couple months. Imagine my surprise when I somehow finished in 2nd place overall for women (and 4th overall regardless of gender). It showed me I had set my bar too low. While I am certainly not going to blow anyone away in a tougher field, I now know that with proper, gradual training and a goal-oriented outlook, I can conquer previously-impossible goals. Hmm, sounds like there’s a college app/test prep metaphor in here….

Here’s to our newly warm weather and a fabulous wind-down to the school year!

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