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My Experience of Being a Zambian Student at Queen’s

Global Health student Tililenji details her arrival experience to Belfast and why she decided to pursue postgraduate study in Northern Ireland.

The Lanyon Quad

I am a Zambian medical doctor, Russian trained, Captain in the Zambia Air Force who until recently was assigned as a medical officer at one of the Ministry of Defence Military Hospitals in Zambia. I am currently a Master's Global Health student. Being awarded a Commonwealth scholarship was like a dream come true experience because l had previously tried to apply for the same scholarship but fell short of the selection.

My interest in Western European culture

Having studied in Russia for 7 years and experienced that culture and education, l became enthralled by Western European culture and education as a result of research and my previous experience of having been at a Trust school in Zambia where most of the teachers were British.

St Patricks Day merchandise

St. Patrick's Day is celebrated as a bank holiday in NI

Therefore, when the news broke that l had been offered a scholarship, I was overly thrilled and immediately started the preparations to come over. I did not have a clue about what to expect, especially about the culture and education system itself, apart from the few movies l watched, a few British Teachers l experienced in primary school, and the impact of the Irish conflict and post-conflict context of Ireland. Needless to mention, l had a taste of Guinness due to St Patrick’s Day which was celebrated in Russia.

My journey to Belfast

This momentous expedition to Ireland was not bereft of variegated emotions.  On one side I was morose because I was leaving my young kids behind me, on the other hand, I was exuberating with excitement because I was finally responding to my dream.

The overarching factor that balanced all the emotions was the conviction that this experience would empower me academically to be able to make a difference in my community and the possibility that my kids would join me and accompany me during the period of my study will directly benefit them to experience a very nuanced and rich culture.  

Things every international student should know before coming to NI

Suffice it to mention at this juncture that the actual journey to Belfast was smooth but with some drama which came with a few glitches, especially as I was connecting at Heathrow. Coming from a small airport in Lusaka, I forgot my Moscow experience of properly reading the flight details on the display. It acted as a wake-up call, that I am back in Europe. I almost missed my flight but due to the English courtesy and professionalism of the airport staff, I was ably assisted, and I arrived at my destination on time.

Life at Queen’s

The onboarding experience both at the hostel and the University was phenomenal. Despite the apprehension that consumed me in the beginning of being alone, away from my kids and loved ones, I have smoothly managed to settle down and already feel like an Irish lady.

Students and Staff in the One Elmwood Students Union building

Find out more about Queen's Welcome and Orientation

All the relevant facilities were ready for me, be it at the hostel or university.  The personnel made me feel at home and in some cases went an extra mile in ensuring that I rapidly settled to enable me to focus on my studies. At the University, the Professors and relevant staff guaranteed that I had all that I needed and even offered extra support in areas where I had challenges.

The adventure is still ongoing and getting more interesting by day. I am still here exploring the Irish culture, deepening my academic credentials, and just trying to enjoy the experience. I am grateful to these amazing Irish and British people for according to me this rare opportunity and exposure. I can’t wait for my kids to arrive in a few months so that before I leave, they too can enjoy the experience.

Find out more

Zambia: Admissions Guide

Student life in Belfast

Support services at Queen's

Tililenji Mwanza

Global Health | Postgraduate Student | Zambia

I am currently a Master's student at Queen's University Belfast pursing a degree in Global Health. I am particularly interested in women and children's health and how agendas can be implemented to improve their health and wellbeing.

Tililenji Mwanza