Ulster University Go Global Student Stories

Reading, PA
Country flag United States

Profile Image for Cameron Girvan
Written by

Cameron Girvan

BSc Hons Psychology FT

It’s been a year, oh what a year!

Getting Ready to Go

I knew from the first meeting I attended regarding placement at Ulster University that I wanted to go big! I investigated how I could apply to Study USA after sitting through a panel from a previous student who attended the program.

The program wasn't Psychology based, which what I study. It was Business, I found this new challenge motivating which is what I communicated in the interview process. I researched American Colleges teaching methods, attitudes and examinations. I immediately saw a staggering difference to Northern Ireland’s attitudes. For the first semester in Albright College I enrolled in Business Law, Marketing, Business, Government, Society (BGS) and my elective class was The Creative Process.

Classes

I found it rewarding that each class asked for my involvement in different ways. For example, Business Law required A LOT of outside reading and learning for next day class. Whilst the Creative Process asked only to involve yourself emotionally and psychically. I had a great range of classes the first semester! The second Semester, which was unfortunately cut short due to the pandemic, was MUCH more involved in terms of hours of work and meeting up with professors outside teaching hours. I found both semesters tiring, but ultimately very rewarding, academically.

Student Life

The Student Life at Albright College was simply put‚ FANTASTIC! I set out to make as many friends as humanly possible, as I have a very outgoing personality and was in a foreign country and didn’t know anyone! I learned a lot from my friends at Albright. I arrived at the College immature and unfocused on my goals. Leaving Albright College, I departed a better man ultimately. I feel more focused, determined and happy. Sometimes you need one big adventure to test who you really are in this big bad world.

Career Development

In terms of career development, I have certainly gained a vast amount of business knowledge from Albright College. I learned how to total up annual profit involving Net and gross profit margins, how to apply myself in a court, and how important it is to be part of a morally strong company. I was also taught how to market a product, understand the decline of want over need, how to become an entrepreneur, and how to sell a product to the right consumer. Business at Alright College even touched on Psychology, which was interesting, we learnt how to adapt our mindsets to the consumer, and how to appear more welcoming and trustworthy!

Getting Involved in College Life 

Any challenge I was faced with at Albright College I attempted to overcome, simply put I wanted to prove myself, that I was capable to stand on my own two feet and be independent. The British Councils communication with myself was superb, they were there to help at any time! I joined the Albright College Theatre group, and in turn auditioned for the upcoming winter play, which I was cast in. This was difficult to balance in terms of homework and a hobby, however, I did it!

I have been to America four times prior with my family. Each time was different to the last as I was a little older and saw things differently. This time however, I was 20 and was keen to experience the real College Culture. I joined the Cross-Country team and I was running four miles within two days of arriving! It was a lot of fun; my body was forced to adapt to America’s dense humidity. I was certainly accepted in Albright College, which I was most proud of overall. The college itself upon arrival looked different to what I had imagined, even to the website. It was smaller than the likes of Ulster University back home, it felt inclusive, safe and bustling with people. I overcame the culture shock by adapting and involving myself with the American culture. I joined societies and clubs in relation to America and its history and workshops/extra credit experiences.

The Culture

I just loved the American culture and how vastly different it was to back home in Northern Ireland.

I gave speeches in other classrooms about Northern Ireland’s Culture and key differences. I even performed some karaoke day three of being at the college, in front of a lot of people. Go big or go home I say. I experienced what an American court looks like and its system through Business Law. I remained in America throughout the holidays. At thanksgiving I stayed with my good friend Julia and saw the Christmas decorations in her town, with lots of people and festive activities. I also watched a football game which was entertaining.

Clubs and Activities

As I have stated, when I arrived at Alright College my overarching goal was simple, do as much as I could with the little time I had! I joined the Cross-Country team prior to arriving at Albright College and was running on day two. The team was superb, loving and supportive. I joined various clubs and societies such as the International Student Committee which involved other students on placement, from other cultures and backgrounds. I was in the adventure club which funded us to go kayaking, bowling and take part in other activities.

I heard about the theatre scene at Albright College and I immediately investigated when their next auditioning call was for the play “The Curious Incident of the Dog in The Nighttime”., I got the part of Rodger Shears which was a life changing experience. The entire experience in the theatre was life changing. I realised the passion I once had for the arts was reignited in a huge way. We performed the play several times at Albright College before performing at The Kennedy Centre at Maryland University. I played American football for a brief period which nearly killed me but was a good laugh.

Travel

I explored the local area and outside Philadelphia with friends who drove. I also explored Maryland when the production was there. My good friend Tucker invited me to visit at Christmas. We went to Vermont and skied in the mountains and stayed in a beautiful wooden cabin. I met people from all over the world.

What I have learned

I developed so many skills whilst attending Albright College, primarily, how to adapt to situations. I really do feel I have matured massively and can think on my feet no matter the situation.

Moving forward, my future career plans are on a good footing after this marvellous experience. I realise that no matter what path I take in terms of my career, I will apply myself 100% of the way.

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