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10 things I wish I knew before starting Queen's

Yi Kang Choo tells us what advice he'd give himself before starting his first year at Queen's University.

Audience with graduate school Dublin

I rarely regret life decisions because I strongly believe that everything happens for a reason. I wouldn’t be who I am today without all these experiences. 

I had a lot of great experiences during my time at Queen’s. If I could go back in time to tell my first-year self how to get the most out of my experience, I would give these 10 tips.

1. Explore more of the beautiful places in Northern Ireland

Choo visits the Giant's Causeway

I have loved exploring Northern Ireland and I’ve visited beautiful places like the Giants Causeway and Portrush. But I would love to have explored even more – especially as I didn’t have a pandemic to worry about in first year!

There are also lots of lively bars and bands around the city that I would love to have seen!

2. It's never too early to start thinking about your career

Like most freshers, I wasn’t thinking about a career plan when I first started university. However, I realised in second and third year that it’s important to have some relevant experience.

 If I were given a second chance, I would have gotten in touch with a Queen’s career consultant earlier. I also would have applied to more first year insight programmes at different companies.

3. Attend more society and club events

 

In my last year at Queen’s, most events took place virtually. I definitely missed the times when we could meet and have fun in person.

That’s why I would recommend definitely try to join and attend as many clubs and society events on campus as possible.

4. Spend more time with my friends

 

 I could get quite stressed with my studies in first year, so sometimes I missed the chance to visit or check up on my friends.

 University is about more than just studying – it’s important to stay connected with good friends.

5. Make more use of the Language Centre

Students at Queen’s get a discount for classes in the Language Centre. I wish I made full use of my free time in first year to pick up one or many languages! Especially before things became more hectic in second and third year.

6. Attend more Development Week events 

Every year, Queen’s hosts a Development Week for students. This programme allows you to learn skills and topics outside of your undergraduate degree. If I could speak to my younger self, I’d tell him to make the most of these Development Weeks.

7. Be more budget-conscious!

I really learned how to budget in my second and third years. I wish I could have applied this discipline to my budgeting in first year. For example, I would recommend cooking for myself more often to save money to explore Belfast and Northern Ireland more.

8. Take advantage of the sports facilities

I had free access to Queen’s Sport (PEC) because I lived in QUB accommodation. I think I should have spent more time exploring the programmes and facilities.

For example, there are really good facilities and training programmes for squash and rock-climbing and I wish I’d fully taken advantage of these!

 9. Know that it’s ok to relax and enjoy yourself

Choo at Pride

It’s important not to be too strict. Reward yourself with good food or just anything that can improve my quality of living here in Belfast!

I often feel that I was too hard on myself in first year. I definitely could have enjoyed myself a little bit more!

10. Push yourself out of your comfort zone!

Choo, standing in front of the Lanyon, is a brand ambassador for Linklaters

If I could go back to first year, I would try to venture out of my comfort zone more. When you try new things, you find rewards you don’t expect. I would go back and attend even more events (especially when social distancing wasn’t a consideration) to meet new friends.

 

I am incredibly grateful for all of my experiences during my time at Queen’s. I don’t have any regrets but hopefully this will be a useful guide for any future students who want to make the most of their student life.  

Have fun, and I believe you’ll enjoy and learn so much!

 

Find out more:

Living in Belfast and Northern Ireland

Queen’s careers, employability and skills

Language Centre

Queen’s Sport

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