Reflection: Home Sweet Home

Hello all! After 4 epic weeks studying abroad in Belfast, it was time to head back to the States! I arrived home safely and immensly grateful for my experience. During my time in Northern Ireland, I truly learned a lot about the course of study in conflict transformation and social justice. Being in an area that had previous conflict (that was not that long ago mind you) was something I never believed could be true. The locals were very friendly, Belfast is considered one of the safest cities in the United Kingdom, and life seems to go on as if it were any other peaceful community. Once discovering the atrocities that had taken place in this very city as well as the nature of the people, it was something I simply could not believe. What made the educational experience realer and quite possibly more “heavy” was the fact that being a first world country, they too have had their problems. You would never think that The Troubles could happen in such a place. By being in the city/country first hand studying the subject matter, I was better able to learn on a more personal level with individuals who live there and see it for myself. It was often said that while the war is over, the conflict is still alive and well. Just how they are able to come to terms of living in a completely coexisting society is a goal and I think they are doing a pretty good job in working towards this. They often still look back to their history for an understanding on the divide yet are looking to a better future with ways to commemorate and serve justice to victims while trying to move on from its dark past. It was inspiring to see this region promote peace and hope that many of the (currently 36) other conflict in the world could hopefully do the same. This trip also made me extremely thankful to be living in the United States due to some culture shocks along the way. While the country is beautiful, in the end I was glad to be home sweet home. To the friends I have made through the University of South Florida and Queen’s University Belfast, cheers! We made it! Since gaining  worldly life experience and personal development through this program I can proudly say I am ready to take on my future endeavors!

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