College of Liberal Arts

University of Mississippi

Sociology Major Studies in Northern Ireland for Academic Credit, Lesson in History

American students usually learn another country’s history from afar. But University of Mississippi junior Kelly Pizzo has come to understand Northern Ireland’s recent storied past while studying there during the spring semester.

Pizzo, a sociology major from Mandeville, La., is enrolled in classes at Queen’s University in Belfast, made possible through an exchange partnership sponsored by the UM Study Abroad Office. She arrived there in January and plans to return home in mid-June.

Her courses in sociology, gender studies and history will provide 15 hours of academic credit toward her UM degree; however, Pizzo says she is learning much more. Ireland is still recovering from a three-decade battle between the country’s unionist and nationalist communities.

“Learning about the recent conflict in Northern Ireland has really opened my eyes to a lot of new perspectives on the issue,” Pizzo said. “The city is still in the process of recovering from such a troubled time, but the relationships between the people of the city are becoming more positive and they are really trying the make Belfast a peaceful city.”

She is also working an internship with Charter Northern Ireland, an organization that handles the peace process resulting from the conflicts.

Aside from classes and her internship, Pizzo has also found time to travel. So far she has seen a lot of Scotland, including Glasgow and Edinburgh, as well as London and Dublin. She also plans to visit Rome and Salzberg, Austria.
Classes are very different at Queen’s than they are at Ole Miss, Pizzo said.

“Each class has a lecture either once or twice a week in which everyone meets, and then everyone has to take a tutorial once a week in which five or six students meet together with a tutor for the class,” she explained.

A three-week spring break gives the students time to relax, and classes end about a month before exams to allow students plenty of time to study for finals. Even though the curriculum has been a pleasant surprise, Pizzo said the opposite is true about the weather.

“On a typical day in Belfast, you can experience all different types of weather, from rain to snow to heat and sunshine,” Pizzo said. “Carrying an umbrella every day around town is definitely something I do.”

A Chancellor’s Leadership Scholar, Pizzo is slated to graduate from Ole Miss in May 2011. She is considering getting a master’s degree in sociology.

A graduate of Mandeville High School, Pizzo is the daughter of Steve and Rosemary Pizzo.

For more information on Study Abroad programs at UM, go to