A Very Warm (Sometimes Rainy) Welcome to Belfast!

I’ve pretty much spent the first half of term welcoming international students to Belfast! QUB and Ulster University teamed up with Invest NI and the British Council to welcome all the new international arrivals to Belfast City Hall, QUB delivered its own International Welcome & Orientation on campus, our Faculty of Engineering & Physical Sciences hosted a dinner and the INTO pathway centre held an afternoon tea! It’s so exciting for me to finally meet students I’ve been supporting throughout their application journey (and even a few I’d already met in their home countries!) and to share their enthusiasm for Belfast and everything it has to offer.

Introducing the new INTO students to the EPS Faculty

Another group I was glad to welcome back was my team of international ambassadors. We had a lovely meal at Darcy’s catching up on their summer placements and trips home, and brainstorming about our year ahead. Our first activity was a media training session delivered by TJ in the School of Electronics, Electrical Engineering & Computer Science where we learned “how to make a video that doesn’t suck”! If you’re eligible and would like to join, applications are open until 2nd November.

I recently moved back into the city, and have really been enjoying soaking up all the culture on my doorstep. From small events like Focal Festival to large scale ones like Culture Night, I’ve got to see some of my favourite local musicians such as The Emerald Armada and Nathan O’Regan and discovered some new artists along the way. Culture night is one of my favourite events of the year, because people from all backgrounds come to celebrate the talent and diversity in the city through food, sport and the arts. Every imaginable venue, from a street corner to a barber shop, is taken over for performances, and you can either create your own personalised schedule of back-to-back entertainment or just improvise it and enjoy the atmosphere.

Back at work, I’ve been doing a lot of planning for the new academic year, which involves getting dates locked down for travel and making sure I’ve got everything prepared for each trip (before Christmas I’ll have been to Mexico and India, so there’s no waiting around!). I also need to make sure I’m up to date with the courses on offer, and how to talk about them. So I’ve been attending events like open days, and Faculty tasters such as the Planning School’s Dawn Til Dusk trip, in order to hear the academics talk about their courses and the students ask them questions. A happy bonus was being mistaken for a school leaver rather than a staff member! On Tuesdays I’m attending Mandarin classes at the Language Centre, too, so that I can talk to prospective and current students in their mother tongue. It’s difficult to master all the tones when one word can mean four different things depending on your pitch, but it is fun trying, and if I can even master a few key phrases I’ll have achieved something. Wish me luck!


Learning about the development of the Belfast Docks

Rocking the brightest poncho possible in the rain!

Ciara Murray

Ciara Murray is an International Officer at Queen's University Belfast, managing student progression from INTO pathways onto Queen's degree programmes. Her blog aims to share her personal experiences living in Northern Ireland, working at QUB and travelling the globe.

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