Written by Piper Lilley, Staff Photographer

I’ve been wanting to study abroad for years. It was one of the only reasons I wanted to go to college. Now that I’m actually here, it feels different than what I expected. It’s hard to get settled in a new room, a new country, a new school. I’ve only been here for about four days, although I slept completely through the first day. The Global Ambassadors at Ulster University assume that us students should be getting settled by now, but I don’t think I will be fully settled for another few weeks. 

My plane ride from Newark to London went well. It was at night, but I couldn’t sleep. I then had a four hour layover in London and one more flight to Belfast, which was only about an hour. I paid for a meet and greet service through my University and didn’t know what to expect. The meet and greet service was a couple Global Ambassadors who called a cab for us to take to our accommodation. Another girl on my flight had the same accommodation as me, so we shared a cab. This was my first friend I made here. Sunday, the 22nd, was my first full day in Belfast. My sleep schedule was already messed up, and I slept all day. 

The view of the Belfast Lough from Lilley’s residence, taken by Lilley

Monday was the first day of the week-long International Orientation. It was an extremely stressful day for me. I was having lots of technical problems that couldn’t be solved right away. I didn’t really know anybody except for the girl I shared a cab with and I didn’t see her at all that day. I felt very alone and anxious. I went back to my room early to escape all of the stress I was feeling. I had a long phone conversation with my mom and she helped me work through it. I also worked through a lot of my technical problems on my own, which relieved my stress a little bit. 

Tuesday was a much better day. I had made a plan for myself for the whole day: Get food at a local restaurant, go to the grocery store, and shop for art supplies. I decided to do the library tour at my University even though I really didn’t want to. When I went up to the library, I saw the girl I shared a cab with and said, “Hi.” She introduced me to a ton of other international students and five of us went to get lunch. It was so great to actually meet new people and get their numbers. Tuesday night, all of us went to a University-led pizza night where we played card games and hung out. After that we went to get drinks at one of the local pubs until eleven. It was so fun and such a relief from Monday. 

Today is Wednesday and a lot of the international students are going to an ice hockey game but I decided not to. I think I’ll explore my accommodation, which I haven’t done yet. There’s lots of restaurants and walking paths by the water that I want to go see. Although I feel less stressed now, I found out that I’m registered for the wrong classes. The people I’ve been emailing back and forth have been very kind and helpful about my situation. I hope it gets resolved soon. 

All in all, a lot has happened in the past few days, and it still hasn’t really hit me that I’m abroad. I’m hoping I’ll realize that I’m where I’ve been wanting to be for a long time.