In Class News

March 28, 2020 at 4:10 pm

Spring Break 2020 | First Study Abroad Trip in Northern Ireland

Haley Hautzinger at the Giant's Causeway

Haley Hautzinger at the Giant’s Causeway

By Haley Hautzinger ’21
Ohio University

Over this past spring break I went on my first study abroad trip in Northern Ireland. I was among 21 other students studying human rights, law and justice over the conflict known as “the troubles.”

This was my first experience traveling abroad, but luckily I teamed up with another student going on the trip. There were a few hiccups along the 16 hours of traveling, but nonetheless we safely made it to the Dublin airport.

The journey began at the Glasnevin cemetery, where we took a scenic ride up to Belfast where we would spend the next couple days. After we settled into the hotel we all got ready for our welcome dinner at Molly’s Yard; this was one of my personal favorite spots in Northern Ireland.

Throughout the week spent in Northern Ireland we got to tour museums, peace walls, and murals. We also had the opportunity to interview ex-political prisoners, restorative justice practitioners, and human right lawyers. Many of these interactions were followed by further discussion in smaller groups back at the hotel; this is where we could process the information we were taking in.

Every night we had the opportunity to explore the cities on our own, and these are some of my most memorable moments from the trip. This was such a different experience because I came in knowing no one on the trip and then leaving with incredible friendships and memories. My favorite location was the city of Derry. There was so much culture and history bundled into one small town.

Fellow bobcats at the Dunluce castle

Fellow Bobcats at the Dunluce Castle

The trip ended with a beautiful coastal bus ride back to Belfast where we made many different stops to enjoy the scenery. We were fortunate enough the weather was in the high 40s and sunny all day while we explored Northern Ireland. Our first stop was the Dunluce castle (pictured below), where we were greeted by grazing sheep and a beautiful view of the coastline. We made a quick pit stop to eat lunch at the old Bushmills distillery and did some gift shopping around town.

Then we finally made our way to the Giant’s Causeway, a breathtaking land-made column structure with a scenic walk down through the hills. The rest of the bus ride was followed by a quick stop at a location shot in Game of Thrones and the Carrickfergus castle. Our final day was a free day in Belfast where a group of us went to the St. George’s Market, Victoria Square mall, and had our farewell dinner at McHugh’s.

This was an experience of a lifetime, and I was super fortunate this study abroad trip continued as planned because I know there were a few trips that got canceled due to the coronavirus.

Traveling home was a completely different experience due to flight delays and tighter security, but we all made it home safely. I have spent the past two weeks quarantined and decompressing from my incredible trip. It’s sad to see this semester end so abruptly, and feel like there’s unfinished business. But we will be back in Athens before we know it. Happy social distancing fellow Bobcats.


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