The Roaring 20s

Semester one down! I’ve survived the first couple of months of the new post, thanks to the never-wavering cheerleading of the lovely people around me, to whom I am always grateful. Christmas is just around the corner, and it’ll be great to have some downtime to process all the big changes and recharge batteries ahead of the new year.

Shortly after I last posted, I spent a fantastic day with some staff and students at Tollymore Forest park, hosted by FSC Ireland. We did some orienteering and team building exercises, practiced some earthing and lit a fire – which provided charcoal for sketching and some toasted marshmallows to boot! It was such a good way to get to know everyone, and to see the students exploring a bit more of their new surroundings.

November was spent working with our September cohort to get their applications submitted to QUB. It’s a big job with the number of students, and all of the pathways open to them at the university. INTO Queen’s has pre-entry programmes from undergraduate right through to postgraduate research level, so I’m covering all bases now!

In between, we had our big 10th birthday celebration at the Queen’s Film Theatre. That involved performances and presentations from current students and alumni, and it was really inspiring to hear where their studies had taken them, and how their experiences at INTO had given them that springboard. It was also a good opportunity for me to get to know new colleagues from mainland UK who’d come over for the occasion. For some it was a first visit to Belfast, so I made sure they saw the best of our wee city and went home with a multipack of Tayto cheese and onion!

My own experience of Belfast recently has been mostly indoors due to the wintery weather setting in, with plenty of trips to the QFT and the Ormeau Community Cinema, and a few gigs thrown in for good measure; like the monthly Songbook night at Ulster Sports Club, and a bucket list experience of Foy Vance at the Waterfront!

After last week’s winter graduation ceremonies, the campus is eerily quiet and staff are wrapping up their last minute jobs before the place closes its doors. I’ve got one last Christmas party to attend this week before I head home to Scotland and get a big cuddle from Winston the boxer! Maybe my family, who I haven’t seen in months. But mostly Winston.

Have a happy and peaceful break, however you spend it, and here’s to a new year and decade!

Ciara

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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