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Seeing Europe on a semester abroad

Text that reads: It's definitely broadened my perspective on what I'm studying.

In less than two months of her semester abroad, University of Guelph-Humber student Emma Kelly has already achieved an itinerary of stunning experiences that would make even a seasoned globe-trotter feel jealous.

Kelly, a fourth-year Justice Studies student who is studying at Ulster University in Northern Ireland, arrived in Belfast on Jan. 15 a week ahead of her orientation. Even before classes started, Kelly and some new friends embarked on a train trip to Dublin, through the scenic Wicklow Mountains and down to Cork.

She was just getting started.

“It’s been unreal,” Kelly said over Skype recently from across the Atlantic Ocean. “The landscape here is absolutely stunning. It’s so great to be here. It’s so nice to be able to get outdoors and fit that into my schedule.”

And what a schedule it’s been thus far for Kelly. In addition to her coursework, she’s managed quite a bit of sightseeing.

One of 11 international students stationed at the school, Kelly and the group rented a farmhouse in County Donegal on the other side of the Irish border. From there, they explored the historical town of Derry/Londonderry, where the Bloody Sunday incident took place, touring the site and visiting several memorials.

“That was particularly striking,” she said.

That moving trip was hardly the end of Kelly’s travels. She also set off on a whirlwind trip to Berlin – who can resist a $43 return flight? – where she visited the Reichstag building, toured the former site of the Berlin Wall and “ate a lot of really good German food.”

“We had a fantastic experience,” she said. “We covered a lot of territory.”

She’s already planned trips for later in the semester to Amsterdam and Spain. Kelly has also gotten involved on University of Ulster campus. She joined the mountaineering club – they’re organizing the trip to Spain, specifically to the climbing hotspot El Chorro – and the field hockey team.

With all that exciting travel, Kelly says her classes have still been a highlight. She’s taking three modules: crime, social order and social control; psychology and crime; and cybercrime. She loves the cybercrime course, which she says is incredibly relevant right now, while the crime, social order and social control class has involved a theoretical exploration of the development of surveillance and social control.

“I’ve lucked out in terms of modules,” she said. “Our professors are super well-informed, very responsive and helpful. I feel like it’s rounding out my education.”

This isn’t the first travel experience for Kelly, who first visited Northern Ireland during a Study Abroad trip. She’s also visited Brazil and France, but the freedom she has during this semester abroad is a new feeling.

“I hadn’t done much independent travel outside of Canada, so this is, I feel, a bit of a different experience,” she said. “One of the most valuable parts and something I didn’t expect is the fact that we are able to meet so many people from across the world. I can’t even count conversations we’ve had where we’ve compared and contrasted funny things about our nationalities and cultures.

“And because I’m in Justice Studies, being in Ireland and learning about the Troubles, the history and the social context – it’s definitely broadened my perspective on what I’m studying.”

Learn more about Justice Studies at the University of Guelph-Humber.