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A Snapshot of My Recent Travels from Belfast

A look into the opportunities for travelling from Queen’s as a first-year student.

London bridge
London Bridge

My name is Max and I’m a first-year international student from California studying Psychology. One of the main reasons I picked Queen’s is because I've always wanted to travel, and Belfast is an amazing city to do it from. Not only is Belfast a great travel hub but Queen’s offers so many trips and opportunities to travel through Ireland and experience all of its beauty.

Giant’s Causeway

During my first week here, I was able to go to the Giant’s Causeway for free which the university helped to set up. We took a bus through the beautiful countryside of Ireland, passing through the cozy towns along the way. Once there, I got to enjoy a lovely hike along the cliffs with an amazing view. Then I had my lunch on the ocean side rocks, feeling the breeze along the famous rock formations. In only one week of being at Queen’s I was already given the chance to travel through more of Ireland, which was just the beginning.

Giant's Causeway

The scenic Giant's Causeway


My next adventure was at the end of October 2023 when I was lucky enough to have my mom visit, so of course we had to explore a new place which landed us in England.

We flew to Liverpool where we spent the next few days seeing what the city had to offer and as a Beatles lover, the city did not disappoint.  The nicest part of travelling from Belfast was that the flight was less than an hour and cost less than £100 round trip per person.

The first day was spent wandering through the grand shopping centre, Liverpool One, which has a shop for everything. The second day was aimed toward museums, and I know what you’re thinking, not the most fun, but it really is a great time if you’re someone like me who doesn’t know much history. We started off at the world museum with so many fascinating artefacts and fun exhibits.

Beatles costumes on mannequins in museum

Replicas of The Beatles' outfits

As we went on, we made our way to Matthew Street where we found the Beatles museum with fun objects from their lives like Lennon’s glasses and replicas of their outfits from different albums. Since we didn’t get enough of the Beatles, we found the Beatles experience down on Albert dock. Albert dock is a cute area with small souvenir and art shops with lovely cafes that you can walk around while looking at the breathtaking ocean.

The Beatles experience was even cooler than the museum with replica rooms of different aspects of the Beatles’ story like the the yellow submarine and their recording studio. Liverpool was an awesome city with so much to do, I feel like I barely scratched the surface and with such a short flight from Belfast I’m sure I will be back. And of course, once you’ve gotten a taste for how easy and fun it is to travel, you can’t stop.

Yellow submarine interior in Beatles museum

We all live in a yellow submarine...


Two weeks later I was itching to travel again so with the friends I had made less than a month ago, we purchased our £43 round trip tickets and flew to London for the weekend. It still amazes me how quick and cheap it is to fly from Belfast to all these different places.

We left early Friday morning and started the weekend off right with coffee and all the touristy things we could think of. We started with the London tower and as cliched as it is we walked the London Bridge, but when in London etc. After that we checked out the famous Borough Market and it did not let us down with the delicious food and sweet treats, one of my top recommendations.

"It still amazes me how quick and cheap it is to fly from Belfast to all these different places."

Saturday was spent mostly at the Camden market which had some great food, but it was the fun little shops that were the coolest like small artists, vintage clothes, vintage cameras, hats, jewellery, and pretty much anything you can think of was being sold there. Although we didn’t plan to spend the whole day there, we didn’t end up leaving until it was dark - we then decided it was the perfect time to go see the city centre area lit up, which was so fun.

Students together in London Eye

Taking in the views from the top of the London Eye

To end our fantastic trip and say goodbye to London, we went on the London eye late Saturday night where you could see all of London beaming with city lights. Another adventure was over and still I could not get enough of travelling. Now with England under my belt, the next place to see was Scotland.


My most recent and final excursion of my first semester was late November when my friends and I found another £40 round trip ticket to Edinburgh for the weekend, and clearly, we couldn’t say no to that price. It was an early flight Friday to an evening flight Sunday which meant we even had most of Sunday.

The best part of Edinburgh is the astounding scenic views of the city. Our first day was spent exploring the royal mile which had all kinds of independent shops and talented musicians along the mile. Saturday, we explored the views of the castle and jaw dropping cathedral down the street with a nice short hike up a hill to watch the sunset.

"Being a student at Queen’s has given me a new perspective, allowing me to delve into cultures all around Europe."

What better way to end the night than with a Frankenstein themed pub full of spooky cocktails and movie memorabilia, creating an epic night out. Our last day there was spent on a Harry Potter walking tour!  I have always liked Harry Potter, but I must admit I have never been a Potter-head level fan, so I never knew that J.K. Rowling lived in Edinburgh and based many aspects of her books on details of this city.

Students posing for photo in Edinburgh

The city that inspired Harry Potter!

This tour showed us where she found names of characters from gravestones throughout the cemetery of Edinburgh and how she based Hogwarts off of how the castle looks; and the houses after the ones found in a primary school for orphans. It was crazy seeing how much inspiration for the wizarding world came from the beauty of Edinburgh which was a great way to end our trip. 

Being a student at Queen’s has given me a new perspective, allowing me to delve into cultures all around Europe. In such a short period of time I have travelled to more new places than many people ever get the chance to and I’m so grateful. With a location like Queen’s, you can travel through Europe on a budget while also enjoying a great education and the lowest cost of living in the UK. 

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Maxwell Higginbotham

Psychology | Undergraduate Student | California, USA

My name is Max and I’m a first year psychology undergraduate student. I’m from California in America and I love socialising, playing board games, and being out in nature.

In my first semester at Queen’s I have gotten to travel around not just Ireland but all of the UK as well as make great friends from my course and in my flat.

I came to Queen’s because I wanted to study psychology but more specifically Forensic psychology which is usually not offered at an undergraduate level; however, Queen’s offers classes in my third year where I can choose to focus on forensic psychology specifically.

My biggest advice to anyone considering Queen’s is to take the leap and apply because it is an astounding school that offers so much for its students.

Maxwell Higginbotham