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A Starter Guide for International Students at Queen's: Navigating Your First Steps

This guide aims to provide international students with practical tips and essential information to settle smoothly in Belfast and make the most of your experience at Queen's University Belfast.

Three students looking at the Lanyon

Embarking on an academic journey in a new country is thrilling yet challenging, especially in a vibrant city like Belfast. 

Initial steps upon arrival (Day 1)

Transportation from the Airport: Upon your arrival at either Belfast International Airport or George Best Belfast City Airport, you'll find a variety of convenient transportation options to get you to your accommodation. For those landing at Belfast International, the Airport Express 300 service offers regular trips directly to the city centre. If you're arriving via George Best Airport, the Metro 600 service is your best bet. Additionally, taxis and ride-sharing services are readily available at both airports, providing a more direct route to your destination.

Airport arrival information

Helpful Tip: Often, student assistants are available at the airport to welcome new students. Make sure to have all your luggage and essential documents with you. Their assistance can be particularly beneficial if you're unfamiliar with the area or need guidance on reaching your accommodation.

Personal Experience: When I travelled from Belfast City Airport to Elms BT1, the taxi cost was around 15 GBP. This can be a practical choice if you're carrying a lot of luggage or prefer a straightforward journey to your accommodation.

Student presenting in One Elmwood

Interested in becoming a student assistant?

Initial Accommodation Arrangements: It's crucial to secure your permanent accommodation prior to your arrival. Queen's University Accommodation Team provides an array of student housing options for long-term stays, which you can conveniently reserve.

For those considering options outside university-provided housing, such as private rentals or homestays, resources like SpareRoom and local Facebook groups can be extremely helpful. These platforms offer a wide range of choices to suit different preferences and budgets, ensuring you find a comfortable and suitable place to call home during your studies.

Check out a student tour of Elms BT1 accommodation

Important Note: Don't wait until you physically arrive to sort out your accommodation details. Ensure that you collect your arrival pass beforehand from the accommodation website. It's advisable to download or print this pass and keep it on you. This is particularly crucial if your flight (e.g., from Heathrow) is delayed and you find yourself arriving at an odd hour, like midnight. Having your arrival pass readily accessible will make it easier for the staff at the reception to provide you with your keys, ensuring a smooth check-in process.

Registration at Queen's University (Day 2)

As you continue your journey as a new student at Queen's University, the second day is primarily focused on completing your registration process. This important step involves several key activities such as collecting your student ID, enrolling in your courses, and participating in various orientation activities. It's crucial to keep an eye on your university email for all the necessary information, including the induction schedule and any documents you need to bring with you.

Biometric Residence Permit (BRP) Collection: One vital aspect of your registration is the collection of your Biometric Residence Permit (BRP). You should apply for BRP collection from your home country before departing. Upon arrival, your BRP will be available for pickup at the Students' Union.

One Elmwood exterior

One Elmwood Student Centre

To collect your BRP, make sure to book an appointment through the Eventbrite application, which can be downloaded from the app store. If the app is not available in your region's app store, remember that many apps are region-specific, so you might need to change the store's region settings.

SIM Card Tips for International Students: A crucial tip for international students is regarding SIM cards. It's advisable not to purchase a SIM card immediately upon arrival. Instead, visit the information point located on the first floor of the Students’ Union, where you can get a free SIM card. This is an excellent opportunity to choose a network provider that best suits your needs. Additionally, be sure to check out any special offers that certain cellular providers might have for students. Often, these offers include extra data or other benefits and can be availed through the SIM card applications.

READ: What to Pack for University

Course and Subject Registration: As a new student, it's imperative to ensure that you're properly registered in your course and have selected your preferred subjects. This process is not just about enrolling in the university but also involves choosing the specific classes and modules you'll be taking. Make sure to attend all the orientation sessions provided by your department, as these will often include valuable information on how to navigate course selections and academic requirements.

Teaching room in the Graduate School

Make sure to attend relevant orientation sessions

Registering with a GP Practice:

  • Obtaining a Confirmation of Attendance Form: To register with a GP, you first need to file a form online to acquire a confirmation of student status letter. This form is crucial for your GP registration.
  • GP Practice Registration Form: Once you have your confirmation of student status letter, attach it to the GP registration form available at the Students’ Union reception. Filling out this form accurately is vital to ensure you have access to healthcare services during your stay in Belfast.

READ: The University Health Centre at Queen’s – The How, What, Why, and When Answered

These initial steps are designed to help you settle into your new life as a student at Queen's University Belfast seamlessly. Remember, these processes are in place to ensure your safety, health, and well-being while you embark on this exciting educational journey.

Integration into Local and University Life

Joining University Clubs and Societies

Queen's University boasts a vibrant array of clubs and societies, catering to a wide range of interests from sports and arts to cultural groups. These organisations offer more than just hobbies; they are gateways to meeting new people, enhancing your university experience, and fostering personal growth. To explore the diverse options available, attend club fairs and introductory meetings at the start of the semester. For a comprehensive list of clubs and societies at Queen's University and details on how to join, visit their official webpage for more information. This resource is invaluable for finding a group that aligns with your interests and getting involved in the university community.

Our Life at the Lanyon podcast discusses Clubs and Societies at Queen's

Participating in Social Events

The university's event calendar is a treasure trove of opportunities, featuring a wide array of social events, workshops, seminars, and more. Engaging in these activities is an excellent way to immerse yourself in university life. But these events offer more than just socialisation; they are platforms for valuable learning experiences, insightful guest lectures, and networking opportunities that can significantly benefit your academic and professional journey.

For a detailed look at the upcoming events and to plan your participation effectively, be sure to visit Queen's University's event calendar. This resource will keep you updated on the latest happenings and ensure you don't miss out on these enriching experiences.

Tasting event at the Graduate School

Taster session at the Graduate School

Engaging with the Local Community

Volunteering is a deeply rewarding way to engage with the local Belfast community. At Queen's University, Volunteer SU stands as an excellent resource for finding volunteering opportunities that align with your interests and passions. This form of engagement goes beyond contributing positively to the community; it also aids in honing interpersonal skills, deepening your understanding of the local culture, and can even provide work experience relevant to your field of study.

Volunteering is not just about giving back; it's about forging a deeper connection with Belfast and its people. For more information on how to get involved and find opportunities that suit your interests, check out Volunteer SU's website. Here, you can explore a range of options and start your journey towards making a meaningful impact while enriching your own life.

Handy Helpers logo

Handy Helpers is a Queen's volunteering scheme

In conclusion, embarking on your journey at Queen's University Belfast as an international student is the beginning of an enriching adventure. From your initial steps in transportation and accommodation to university registration and beyond, each phase offers unique learning experiences.

Engaging in university clubs, societies, and local community volunteering will further enrich your journey, ensuring a well-rounded and memorable academic experience in Belfast. This guide is your gateway to an exciting and fulfilling start.

Find out more

India: Admissions Guide

International student: Applying to Queen's

Welcome and Orientation at Queen's

Queen's School of Law

Rushikesh Mahajan

LLM Law and Technology | Postgraduate Student | India

I am a Postgraduate student specialising in LLM Law and Technology at Queen’s University Belfast. I have a strong interest in digital services and technology. I come from a legal background where majority of emphasis was given on reading. I like to cook, play video games and talk to people. As a solicitor I like to learn about people and provide them solution.

 Rushikesh Mahajan