I am a twenty-four year old PhD student studying at QUB. I spent four fabulous years in Scotland completing my undergraduate degree in English. To be honest, I didn’t even consider doing a MA course until a month before graduation, when the future began to yawn before me, vast and empty. So I idly applied to a few places to see what happened. Meanwhile I began plotting world trips and gap years. Queen’s accepted me, but I wasn’t convinced about Belfast. They then decided to waive their fees (they do that if you’ve done ok in your BA), so I thought why not?! The School of English here is pretty special. They have world class researchers, and the Seamus Heaney Centre, and poets like Ciaran Carson and Medbh McGuckian kicking around.
So in October 2009, I found myself standing forlornly outside the Lanyon building, getting ‘good luck’ texts from my friends who had just started their adventures in Oz and China. I wasn’t very happy for the first three days of Belfast life. Although the city is small, I found it quite confusing and labyrinthine, whilst the volume of students swarming around the Student Union was a bit overwhelming. But like all new places, once you’ve made a few friends everything becomes rosier. I realised quite quickly that I loved my MA, which was in Irish literature. It began to dawn on me that endlessly talking and writing about books made me happy, and I became quite a contented dork. Belfast became my home properly within about three months. I’ve made wonderful, lifelong friends here, and I love the university. Our campus is so pretty! By January, I was happily filling out my QUB PhD application. A word of advice – check the closing deadline because I nearly missed it. I was lucky enough to be accepted and to get funded by DEL (Northern Ireland’s main funding body), so here I am in 2010, a brand new PhD student. I’m not yet grizzled and disillusioned like my more seasoned compadres (watch this space). My topic is on the figure of the Fallen Woman in Irish Literature, and I am loving my life.