What to expect as an International Student? Kaitlyn, Community Assistant and Juris Doctor from Australia, has written about all you need to know!
Hello International Students,
Moving to a new country can be daunting at any time! However, COVID has definitely produced new challenges for us to navigate. Hopefully, these ideas will help with your adjustment and also help you get the most out of living in beautiful Belfast.
As a starting point the International Student Support QUB Facebook page is a great resource!
Here is the link: https://www.facebook.com/IntStudentSupportQUB
When I first made the move to Belfast I was worried about accommodation, setting up a bank account and finding work opportunities. I also wanted to familiarise myself with the town and make the most out of living in Northern Ireland. COVID has changed the ways this can be done although, I still managed to partake in some really enjoyable socially distanced activities. I hope you find some useful ideas in the sections below!
Queens offers wonderful accommodation options to its students. There are a variety of room sizes and locations available.
If these rooms don’t match your needs, Student Roost will price match. Student Roost also has a variety of room options and locations available.
If you are looking to rent in non-student run housing, you can start your search on PropertyPal. Alternatively, a Facebook search for “Belfast rent a room or Belfast student rental” can result in positive finds, with some current students preferring this method.
Setting up a Bank Account
Queens has kindly created this link to assist with setting up a bank account which meets your needs. It details both digital and local options that will be available to you.
My personal favourite search engine is My Future. This Queens platform shows on campus and external work opportunities. You can filter by the type of field and hours of work you hope to find. There is also the option to utilise career development opportunities under the Degree Plus Interview and Skills link on the left sidebar.
Belfast is a great city with many fun activities on offer. While some of the options listed below are currently closed due to COVID, I hope this list serves you as a good reference point down the line.
If you feel like you need some retail therapy, or even a day out in town, my personal favourite shopping location is Victoria Square. Victoria Square is filled with class stores and wonderful eateries. The layout of the Square offers a nice break from the usual Belfast city streets. During Christmas time these lanes are often beautifully decorated and create a lovely Christmas atmosphere.
Not far from here you will also find another centre called Castle Court.
Belfast has some really good food!! And a wide variety of options too. Both Lisburn Road and Botanic Avenue are within walking distance of campus and offer a delicious variety of food – if you take a stroll down either one, you’re bound to find something you like.
The stores I think you should keep an eye out for are:
Output Café, Sumo Cat, Bao Ban, Boojum, Black Box Donuts, Cookie Box, Juice Jar, Cuban Sandwich Factory, General Merchants, Tribal Burgers, and Villa Italia. Additionally, if you’re looking for a top value lunch you can’t go past the Tesco meal deal – you get a sandwich, drink and snack for £3.
Belfast is home to some really beautiful sights and fascinating history. While you’re in town you should try and check out the places listed below.
Botanic Gardens: These beautiful gardens are located right behind our campus! During the warmer months they make for a lovely picnic location.
Ulster Museum: If you’re looking for a wee activity near campus the Ulster Museum is the largest Museum in Northern Ireland.
Titanic Museum: Who wouldn’t be excited by the fact that the Titanic was built in Belfast! At the Harland and Wolff shipyard you can visit the Titanic Museum and learn all about its history.
Cavehill: I LOVE CAVEHILL the views are incredible! It is only a short walk (20mins) for an extremely satisfying view. It is a great break from city life, without having to travel too far.
Belfast Castle: Not only is it one of the city’s most famous landmarks it also houses a lovely eatery, which makes for a nice getaway from city life. It is said that the surrounding views helped inspire the novel Gulliver’s Travels.
Weekend Trip Locations
Fortunately, you’ve chosen to study in an absolutely gorgeous country. When possible, I love to spend my weekends exploring new areas. I know its freezing, but the beaches here offer incredible surfing conditions – purchasing a winter wetsuit was the best decision I made. I recommend trying to find an activity that you love. Travelling around the country and finding new beaches has made my time here all the more enjoyable. The hiking options here are also stunning. Below are some of my favourite locations.
Donegal: 2hrs 20mins from Belfast
Portrush: 1hr 10mins from Belfast
Mourne Mountains: 1hr from Belfast
Giants Causeway: 1hr 15mins from Belfast
Slemish: 45mins from Belfast
Galway: 3hrs 50mins from Belfast
Dublin: 2hrs from Belfast
Other Useful Ideas
Downloading Unidays will help you secure discounts on food, clothing, electronics and lifestyle purchases. https://www.myunidays.com/GB/en-GB
Game of Thrones was filmed in Ireland and you can take a tour the filming sites. https://gameofthronestours.com/
Tesco does a grocery delivery service for £7 a month. If you don’t have a car and are worried about being in crowded areas due to COVID this could be a suitable option. https://www.tesco.com/DeliverySaver/
Alternatively, other stores such as Sainsburys or ASDA offer similar programs.
Don’t forget to check queen’s online activities follow The Graduate School on Instagram to stay up to date https://www.instagram.com/qubgradschool/?hl=en
We are currently planning a range of exciting events for Semester 2 so stay tuned 🙂