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Belfast and Northern Ireland

5 Culture Shock Moments that Indian Students Experience When they Arrive in Belfast

Living and studying at Queen’s University has been the best experience, but it’s not without a few surprises, says MBA student Shreya Mohal.

Indian students

1. The Belfast Accent

This was the first major culture shock that I encountered. I was pretty confident of my English language skills. However, the day I landed in Belfast and took a cab from Belfast city airport to my accommodation, I could not understand what the driver was talking about! I have to admit, it did freak me out after a long and obviously emotional journey! However, he was a typically friendly and chatty local gentleman who told me about my accommodation area and the landmarks nearby. Irish accents can be tricky and a ‘wee’ bit (do you see what I did there?) difficult to understand, so it’s better to watch some YouTube videos about it before coming here so that you’re prepared! 

2. The Weather

This shouldn’t have come as a surprise at all. I had Googled it and spoke to people about it and I thought I was prepared until I came here. It’s one thing to know something and another to experience it. In short, it will be cold and wet (as it can rain any time, not only in Belfast, but anywhere within the UK). So be prepared, invest in a good quality umbrella or a good quality water-resistant coat. 

3. The Amount of Walking

People in Belfast walk. A lot. Sometimes, I miss the auto-rickshaws and the cheap bus facility back in India. However, I’ve started to get used to walking everywhere and enjoying it as well (hey, it’s one way of exercising). In fact, it’s making me healthy, fit and happy that I’m doing some physical work. 

4. Converting pounds to rupees

I didn’t encounter this until I visited London. It was a nice city and yeah it is ‘London baby!’ but, it is expensive and makes you feel more broke than you already are as a student. Belfast, on the other hand, is genuinely one of the most affordable and safest places in the UK. Even then, do convert the currency for your own benefit, and tabulate your expenses so that you have a better idea of where your money is going and how much. 

5. The Indian Restaurants

Yes, you read that right! There are plenty of north Indian restaurants in this city and the food is grand (Belfast language alert), almost identical to what we eat in India. So, don’t worry about food one bit!


Photo: Shreya Mohal
Shreya Mohal