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What it’s really like arriving in Belfast as a GB student

Moving to a new city for uni can be daunting. Here, three Queen's students from other parts of the UK reveal their first impressions of their adopted city of Belfast.

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Meet our GB panel

Our panel: (Left to right) Gabbie, Maisie and Alice

Gabbie Dancer is a Criminology student from London.

Maisie Wilkinson is a History and Politics undergraduate from Lancashire.

Alice Poole is an Architecture student from Cheltenham.

You get used to walking everywhere

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Alice: Belfast is a really safe city. I’ve always felt really safe in Belfast, I’ve never felt uncomfortable.

Gabbie: I would never walk around London on my own after a night out, but here I am more than comfortable walking home on my own. I feel safer in Belfast because it is a small city.

Alice: It is very much a walking city. We do tend to walk most places and I’ve never felt weird or uncomfortable. Elms BT9 is great because you are a 20-minute walk max from the university and then it’s just another ten or twenty minutes into town. It’s so easy and you can get on the bus if you want to but most of the time we just walk it. We enjoy the walk. BT9 is such a great location.

Gabbie: Yeah, other unis I looked at before, most of them had random blocks throughout the city but in BT9, they have everyone together. It’s nice, everyone is in the same boat; no one knows what they are doing, no one has got any friends. Let’s get on with it!

Alice: As a matter of fact, for me to get to my lectures, it takes me 10/15 minutes walking.

It’s easy to get around

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Alice: Its great having an amazing city centre so close, like the Cathedral Quarter will all of the bars and the city centre with all of the shops, coming from a small town, it’s like, ‘oh, there’s a Zara!’

There is something happening every night

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Gabbie: There are so many different pubs and clubs around, they are everywhere, which is great because you are never far away from home. There are so many different types of bars, you’ve got traditional bars, cosmopolitan bars, so many different kinds…

Maisie: There is a different event every night of the week. You can go to a different thing every night.

Alice: There was one club in my hometown which is horrendous, but there are so many clubs here and they are so easy to get to and it’s so lovely being here. There are events for everyone. Like, there is a One Direction appreciation night next week!

There is the Student Union Bar and the Cathedral Quarter and then there are really, cool studenty restaurants in Botanic.

Gabbie: I like how most clubs have a student night so no matter what night you go out there is something different on and its nice and cheap. I went from a big capital city to a small capital city and I thought it would be less interesting in that way and it’s just not.

Student living is really affordable

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Maisie: I’m paying far less rent compared to my friends at home in England.

Alice: The student accommodation is really nice.

Gabbie: One of my friends said he was paying £300 a week to live in London. In my current place, my rent is £250 for a six-bed house a month. It’s crazy.

There is loads to see beyond the city

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Gabbie: What I like about Belfast over London, it is definitely a city, but you go 20 minutes outside the city and you’ve in mountains and hills and it is great. In 40 minutes on the train, you can be at the beach. That is great because in London, you are in London and it takes ages to get somewhere. I think Belfast is great. There is a surfer society and a mountaineering society.

There are so many places to go hiking and it’s so beautiful.

Alice: Belfast is surrounded by hills

Maisie: Even doing that casually, one of the people I knew had a car. We drove for a hike and to the beach for the weekend. You wouldn’t do that at home.

You’ll make instant friends in Queen’s Accommodation

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Maisie: There were loads of events happening in the Treehouse when I first arrived.

Alice: There are events happening all the time in the Treehouse. There’s pool tables and games. It’s so much fun.

Gabbie: When I moved in in my first year, there were so many international students. There were American girls, one Chinese lad, people from all over, it’s so nice. My parents thought I’d come over and just be with NI people, but that’s not the case. There are so many different people thrown in together.

Alice: In my flat, we have got a real mix. We have three from NI, two from the Republic, two English and a French and German, which is great. It’s been really inclusive.

There is plenty going on at the weekends

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Alice: I was a bit shocked when I first came here and everyone went home for weekend. In England, it’s kind of seen like you are a bit of a wimp, if you go home at weekend to have your laundry done. I have found I’ve formed such good friendships with people who stay up at weekend, you form a weekend club and you cook together and do your washing and it’s so much fun. You are definitely not alone. In my halls we still have six of us.

Gabbie: In the first few weeks, the NI students went home but then they ended up staying.

Gabbie: Even people who don’t make friends quite so easily, there are so many events. I know our Residential Assistant in first year came round and made sure everyone was settling in, you are not just dumped in accommodation. If that is something you struggle with there are people to push you in the right direction.

You’ll be guaranteed a great place to live

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Maisie: GB students are guaranteed accommodation at Queen’s.

Gabbie: There are so many student places. That has never been a worry for me that I wouldn’t find a place to live or I wouldn’t like where I live. There are so many options. The Elms are all so different. There are so many options, you can find one that is right for you. For me, living in BT9 was nice because the blocks were smaller, whereas the city centre suits others.

Alice: I got my first choice of accommodation. I put down BT9 and it was really easily sorted. I’ve barely met anyone who didn’t get their first choice.

Read Next: My Firm Choice: Why Queen's GB Scholarship Made All The Difference

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