One question that I have been asked loads of times is why I chose to study in Belfast. What differs is the way the question is usually asked. Americans have a certain way of asking which is quite different from how the Irish ask. It is a weird thing to notice and point out but I thought I would bring it up anyways.
(This is in no way intended to disrespect anybody. I am only making a blanket statement about something I have noticed.)
Back in the states, my family and friends were eager to find out why I wanted to study in Northern Ireland for a year. The way they asked me showed their enthusiasm for my choice. Most of them said something along the lines of: “What made you decide on Queen’s University and Northern Ireland?” They said it in a positive manner that allowed me to answer in almost any way.
It is a different story here in Ireland. Most of the people I have met were excited to find out that I am from America, but their tone usually changed when they asked about Northern Ireland. In most cases, it went something like: “Why would you want to study in Ireland/Northern Ireland?” It sounds negative when compared to how my friends back home asked.
My answer to both groups is always the same though. I mention that I visited Northern Ireland and the UK back in 2010 and that I loved what the country had to offer. My brief time in the British Isles was very appealing so I chose to come back and spend a year of my life here. I also mention that I am studying political science and that Northern Ireland is a perfect place to do that. It is one of the very few places in the “western world” that is currently having an ethno-national identity struggle. I find this place fascinating; who would not want to study here??
Again I say, these are just generalizations and they do not account for everybody. I have been fortunate enough to find some amazing people here in Ireland that have my same lust for knowledge and want to grow academically.