In the fall of 2014, I spent a semester in Northern Ireland at Ulster University, Magee campus in Derry/Londonderry. It was a truly wonderful experience.
I found the city of Londonderry to be rich with history. They have a strong culture of the fine arts which was so exciting for me. I enjoyed the music scene at the Cultulann Doire (An Irish Cultural center). I went to many concerts and events. The buzz and energy of the Irish arts was so exciting to be around. The city is small, fun to explore and easy to get around. The pubs and cafes are very lively! Irish are fun people to be around and they definitely know how to have a good time!
I am an outdoors girl and I was not disappointed by the Irish outdoors! The famous Giants Causeway is very close to Derry with beautiful cliffs and hills to hike. The are some great parks in the area and the River Foyle is beautiful to go for runs along or walk by.
The housing that IFSA worked out was great! I had my own personal room and bathroom and a common kitchen. Very close to the University and a walkable distance to the city center. Ulster University placed five other international girls with me. All six of us became incredibly close friends and had so much fun going out in Derry together.
I did not find the academics of Ulster University very challenging. However, I did not choose extremely challenging subjects. I think that the challenge of academics at Ulster depends on the courses you choose. The academic schedule of the Magee campus is great because it makes it easy to plan long weekends. I was able many other towns in Ireland, and fit in a trip to Scotland! Magee campus also has a very close-knit international department. I made friends from all around the world; It is one year later now, and I am still very close to many German friends, a Palestinian, some Brazilians, and of course many Irish!
To top it all off, IFSA Butler was a wonderful program.We went to dinners with the IFSA Ireland staff and got to know them. They took us on a trip to an adventure center near Galway and they included a trip to Dublin for students that were studying in Northern Ireland! They checked in on us, and were a support system, yet at the same time, they let us do our own thing. IFSA is the way to go!