Winners of the HAPP International Student photo competition: Arriving in Belfast


By Niamh Stewart, UG in International Studies and Politics

Niamh Stewart: Tinted Wheel I’ve just come back to Belfast for my final year of undergrad. When I moved here two years ago, I fell in love with the walkability of the city. I liked that I could walk around for an afternoon down Lisburn or through the city centre and find new shops and cafes to return to and try. This photo was taken in the Botanic Gardens through the tinted lens of my sunglasses. I was surprised to see the Ferris wheel when I got back but it was a nice reminder that life here is going to keep going despite Covid. I was unsure about leaving home and coming back to the city, but sitting outside in the gardens with my new flatmates in the shadow of the Ferris wheel made me feel so content for awhile. The unfiltered photo came out looking quite retro which I liked!


By Matthew Fishback, MA in International Relations

Matthew Fishback: City Refuge Bog Meadows Nature Reserve is an oasis in the middle of a city. This small wetland is a place to step away from traffic and noise, while literally being in between the motorway and a neighborhood. Being among grazing cows, sheep, and goats took me back to where I grew up and I loved it. If anyone needs to get away for a minute this reserve is an amazing spot to sit back and watch nature move by.


By Julia Newton, MA in Conflict Transformation and Social Justice

Julia Newton: Quarantine Although I knew I wasn’t looking forward to quarantine, when I arrived in early September I had no idea what the most painful part of my first two weeks in Belfast would be. When I finally escaped (aka left when I was legally allowed to do so), I walked all over the city to soak up my new home for a year. I walked over 17,000 steps, after two weeks of a daily average of about 250. I nearly fell over from exhaustion that night and was sure I had caught Covid (I hadn’t). But even so, then – and as much as possible in the few weeks since – walking around the City Centre has been the most peaceful part of this transition. Change and adjusting and culture shock are really hard sometimes. But Belfast is beautiful. And walking helps.


Arriving in Belfast: views from HAPP International students

This September the International Student Experience team at HAPP ran a photo competition for International students with the theme: ‘Arriving in Belfast’. Below are three of the wonderful entries from our International student community.

By Clare French, MA in Violence, Terrorism and Security

Clare French: A New View of Belfast
Arriving in Belfast this time around was unusual given the pandemic. My uncle picked me up at Glengall street and I was grateful to get the soggy, wrinkled mask off of my face. While we made our way through, the memories crept up one by one as if the city was waving back at me. Visions of date nights, Halloween, and Tesco picnics in Botanic filled my mind one by one. But I knew this time would be different. I’ll be here permanently and my interpretation of the city has to be more realistic. Now that I am a resident rather than a visitor, I see this city differently. I see myself splurging on dinner in Victoria’s Square, going for runs in Ormeau Park, studying at Common Grounds, and finding little reminders of home, even if its just a bag of Goldfish.

By Solyane Michaut, Undergraduate in Politics, Philosophy and Economics

Solyane Michaut: On the top of the world I first came in the city with my dad to visit Queen’s in February. It rained a lot, was very cold and extremely windy. And yet, I loved it. In fact I loved it so much that I decided to come here for three years! The first two weeks were dedicated to the visit of my room, the corridor, the living room and the kitchen. That’s on self-isolation… But as soon as I got out, I have been able to enjoy Belfast in its best autumn colours, and start to meet amazing people. From the castle to the MAC with a friend, strolling by cafe and bookstores, saying that I loved everything would be doing an affront to the way I really feel. I’m living a dream, my dream, and it can only get better.

By Mohaddeseh Ziyachi, PhD in Cognition and Culture

Mohaddeseh Ziyachi: Campus
I have fallen in love with this Campus since before coming to Belfast! Every day that I walk to the office, I find the Lanyon building and the graduate school more gorgeous than the day before!