Merry Christmas to all, and to all a good night!

How are we already halfway through the academic year?! The last few months have flown in; I’m sure staff and students alike are looking forward to a well-earned Christmas break after all their hard work. I’ll be flying home to Scotland on Thursday to spend some quality time with my family and our lovable lump of a boxer, Winston, eating lots of home cooked food and then walking it off on the beach!

It’s been a bit of a crazy term for me; I had two trips scheduled to Mexico and India, and ended up very ill both times! The job isn’t always as glamorous as my social media accounts would have you believe… Besides that, though, it was pretty productive and I learned a lot – especially in Mexico, as that was a first visit for me. Students there mostly go abroad for their postgraduate studies, and it’s often in line with government funding aimed at specific lines of research to help the country develop in different ways. I also really enjoyed getting to use my Spanish, and ticking cactus tacos off my culinary bucket list in between meetings!

Travel isn’t the only way to experience our international students’ local cultures, though. There are lots of international events on campus throughout the year, like the Oman National Day celebration on 22nd November. This event was hosted in the Graduate School and was open to all – it was a great opportunity to engage with the Omani community of Belfast, with lots of reading materials, stations to try clothing and henna, and a spread of food to bring everyone together. I was delighted to see such a great turn out, at what was a very heartwarming celebration of diversity on campus!

I’ve also spent a lot of time recently assessing applications for the International Student Ambassador programme. There was a lot of interest, and I genuinely enjoyed reading the motivations of students from around the globe who want to share their experiences and become role models for other young people in their home countries. I was excited to notify the successful applicants before they wrapped up for the Christmas break, and am so looking forward to meeting them in the new year!

For now, though, I’m signing off for 2018 – it’s been a good one but I’m ready to recharge my batteries.

Wishing everyone a safe and happy break, however you plan to spend it!



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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