The Launch of a European Experience in the United Kingdom

Hello Everyone!

My name is Gregory Banizs and I am a sophomore business student at Pitt. I am majoring in accounting and minoring in computer science. I plan on graduating from Pitt in a three year period and becoming a certified public accountant. To become eligible for the CPA exam one must complete 150 credit hours at a certified university. Due to this requirement I have always had full, 18 credit semesters and little time to explore classes of interest outside of my major and minor. I accepted an internship at KPMG as an audit intern for the summer of 2019 and will have a months break between the end of april (after finals) and the beginning of my internship in June. To fulfill one of my lifelong passions I have chosen to study abroad in this one month period in Ireland and Northern Ireland!

As a child one of my favorite activities was to play and watch soccer. I would often play the xbox and playstation game FIFA which had the option of playing as an Irish league team. I would always select the team Shamrock Rovers due to the colorful green and white colors of their kit. I jokingly told myself I would love to visit a game of theirs one day. After becoming a huge Game of Thrones fan, hearing about the travel experiences of my friends in the UK, learning about Irish history in my AP euro class and watching countless irish movies such as Brooklyn, I was determined to visit the nation.

When the opportunity arose to apply to Pitt’s maymester I instantly to take advantage. I had visited famous European hubs before such as Budapest, Rome Vienna but only for short periods of time. The chance to learn about a nation’s history and language while being able to immerse myself in its culture sounded incredible to me. I so desperately wanted to visit the filming location of the famous castle of Winterfell and to see how the producers were able to transform The Dark Hedges into King’s Road, a mystical pathway in Game of Thrones. I longed to shout and yell through the joyous and at times catastrophic atmosphere fans can produce in the Irish Football League and of course walk around the City of Dublin at night hearing Irish music playing in the pubs to the sounds of locals laughing in the background.

When I received my acceptance letter I started to think about what I truly wanted from the program. Of course I wanted to enjoy all of things listed above that I learned about through my younger years but there was much more to the program than a few interests. I had never truly been out of my comfort zone in a foreign county. Exploring a huge city so far away from home with a group of students I have never met was daunting to say the least. Whenever I traveled abroad before it was always with my parents and friends mainly to cities I had extended family in. My father always told me that studying abroad was one of the best ways to grow as a person and to broaden your viewpoints but I never quite understood how.

Now that the opportunity was in front of me I understood what he meant. I could live in a city with people who grew up with a different cuisine, language and values than I. I could understand that how they live their lives is different from what I raised to do. I could understand that not everyone in the world we live shares the same principles I do and that this was a completely normal thing. After thinking through these ideas I set out to put myself in uncomfortable situations while I was abroad to ensure that I made the most of my travel and grew as an individual!