Lyon College junior Hailey Williams, of Memphis, Tenn., has been accepted into the Irish American Scholars program.
She will attend Ulster University in Northern Ireland for five months in spring 2022. This will be Williams’ first time traveling outside of the United States.
“I just applied for my passport in April and haven’t even gotten that back,” she said, laughing. “Once I release my passport to the program, I will get more details.”
She said Ulster University has locations in both Belfast and Jordanstown, and the Irish American Scholars program will let her know which branch she will be attending soon.
Williams found out about the program when she received an email during the COVID-19 pandemic. She had been fearing that travel abroad wouldn’t be an option before she graduated, especially since she is going to graduate a semester early.
Her chances to study abroad were getting smaller, so she decided to jump on the opportunity.
“I knew I wanted to travel abroad, especially after visiting Lyon and hearing them talk about the Nichols Trips.”
Williams continued, “People have asked ‘Why Ireland?’ I wasn’t necessarily choosing Ireland. I just saw an opportunity to study abroad and took it.”
After learning she was accepted into the program, she began researching Northern Ireland on TikTok and finding hidden gems to go visit.
“I don’t know much about the culture, so I’ll have to research as much as I can before I go.”
Her ultimate goal is to get the most out of the coursework that she can while making friends and exploring the sights.
“This will be the first semester I haven’t worked in college,” Williams said. “I’ll actually have the opportunity to live a little bit and go wherever I want.”
She is currently saving up money for the trip. Lyon College is providing financial assistance, Williams said, and she will be working during the summer and the fall to raise funds for her travels.
“I play soccer, so it’s going to be a lot harder during the fall because that’s our season.”
While the expenses are stressful, Williams believes the experience will be worth it.
“I’d rather go and hate it than to not go and always wonder how it would have been,” she said.
Williams concluded, “I’ve already talked about moving out of the country after graduation. This is a good way to do trial and error to see how I like being on my own in a new country.”
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