Student blog by Bea Holland, BA French and Portuguese
I moved to Belfast four years ago, having never visited before and I barely even knew it existed. Moving to a new city or even a new country, if you’re like me, is a daunting experience. Here are my top tips, whether you just moved, you’re about to or you’re thinking about moving to a new city.
1. You’re Not Alone
Belfast itself is a really interesting city to move to because it’s still fairly uncommon for natives to move away, and that can make it a little harder for us newcomers. But it’s so important to know that you’re not the only person moving here from far away, and the people here are so friendly, so you’re going to be ok! The SU, university and accommodation know that a lot of their students are from the island, and so they put effort into helping newcomers through events.
Remember it’s probably going to be a big adjustment, but it is so worth it. But if it’s getting too hard there’s plenty of support within the SU and QUB Wellbeing as well.
2. Move Over Early
When I first moved over I made the most of the International Welcome Week. I opted for the slightly longer QUB Accommodation contract, as it meant I moved over the week before most of the locals did. This was such a good chance to take because it meant I got to meet other people who were completely new to the island and took advantage of lots of welcome events aimed at newcomers, such as accommodation trips to IKEA and city tours.
3. Join a Club or Society
People say it all the time but it really is a great way to get to meet other people.
Make the most of Freshers’ opportunities because you can try out so many new things with no commitment, and everyone is also fresh on the scene. But remember the people you meet in Freshers’ don’t have to be your lifelong friends. You will meet so many people throughout your time in uni, in fact, I didn’t meet my close friends until the second semester of 1st year, and I’m still making amazing friends in the last semester of my fourth and final year. So try and take the pressure off. It’ll come with time.
If you’re coming from another country be sure to check out the SU Clubs & Societies list because there may be a society for people from your background, to help you ease in.
4. Research Your New Home
Moving to a new city, even if it’s only down the motorway from your home, is a big move. Head over to youtube and watch some videos about the city, there’s always a student blogger or two who’ll show you what you’re in for.
You may even be able to find your course or accommodation has a group chat before you come over, so you can start chatting to some people there too.
5. Plan a Trip Home
If you’re someone who’s prone to being homesick that’s totally ok! Try and plan a trip in your reading weeks or at a weekend that’ll let you pop back home and realign yourself.
But I’d also advise against going home too often, or you might miss out on life here. My best recommendation is to go back at a weekend as you might find that a lot of the local students in Elms, BT1 or BT2 go home on Friday after class and come back Monday, in time for their first class. But don’t let that put you off, there’s plenty to keep you busy at the weekend!
6. Get to Know your Flatmates
One of your biggest opportunities to meet other people is your new flatmates. They’re also new to university and are looking to make new friends and they can also introduce you to all sorts of people.
Start by saying hi in the kitchen and go from there. There may not be an instant connection, maybe it’ll come with time or maybe it’s a stepping stone to finding your perfect society or best friend. Take your flatmates up on offers to go to events together or grab a drink.
7. Check out Some Events
There are so many events that happen throughout the year, from sports to gigs you’re spoilt for choice. Going to events allows you to try something new, have fun and even meet new people. They are one of my favourite ways to meet people, you’d be surprised how open to making new friends people are.
Even if you’re not an extrovert, try not to hide away in your room, do things you find fun and the rest will come. There are lots of SU Schemes such as SU Volunteer that are a great way to get involved and meet more people.
8. Don’t be Afraid to do Things Alone
I’m a strong believer in the fact that we are our own best friends. If you see something you want to do and you don’t have anyone to do it with, that’s such a great opportunity to spend time alone. Go and explore the city alone, go for a walk, grab a coffee. You don’t always need to have someone with you to do something. Strike the balance between being social and being alone.
9. Give yourself time and space
Moving anywhere new is stressful, you don’t have to do everything, it’s not possible. Make sure to take time for yourself and prioritise the things you like to do, that way you won’t burn out. It’s not possible to be social all the time, so make sure you’re looking after yourself first.
10. Visit Ahead of Time
I hadn’t originally applied to Queen’s and I came through the UCAS clearing system, which meant Belfast was never really on my radar. When you’re thinking about moving over or have even accepted an offer, try and visit the city if you can.
I flew over and visited for a total of 8 hours and I instantly fell in love with this city. The university was really accommodating and organised a tour of the uni and a chat with some of my potential tutors to help me make my decision.
You don’t need to visit for long but it can help set your mind at ease.
Moving city can be scary but it is so worthwhile and if you’re lucky like me you’ll find your home and plan never to leave! Trust in yourself, stick with it, you can do it.