Talking Politics in Portstewart

The view from my backyard here at University of Ulster

The view from my backyard at University of Ulster

This Friday concludes my first week as an exchange student in Northern Ireland. Reflecting on the week, I already feel as if I have experienced so much, as if I have been here for much longer than just one week. Today is also the first day that jet lag finally caught up to me and I slept until late in the afternoon, completely exhausted from all the new things.

I think the most unexpected aspect of my time here so far has been the other international students sharing this experience with me. Not only am I being exposed to Irish culture for the first time, but the home cultures of students from all across the globe. My housemates include three girls from Spain, one girl from France, and one other American girl.

The wonderful diversity of perspectives was more apparent than ever as I spent last night in an Irish pub, a live band performing “Galway Girl” in the background, as I talked politics with two guys from Malta and three Spanish girls. We touched on topics ranging from gun control, religion, health care, and feminism, and I felt wonder struck by the discourse unlike any I’ve experienced in my life.

I am learning that my study abroad experience, just as in my life, the people are what matter most. I feel incredibly fortunate to have met so many wonderful, warm, lovely people here.