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Life as a Malaysian Student at Queen’s

Medicine student Abi sheds some light on the Malaysian student experience at Queen's!

The Lanyon Building, facade of Queen's University Belfast

Selamat sejahtera! I’m Abi and I’m currently a third year studying Medicine in Belfast! I remember spending hours Googling about student life in Belfast, eager to prepare for my new life here. Now, as I write this blog, I hope to offer you peace of mind by sharing a bit about student life in this welcoming city.

Victoria Square entrance

Entrance to Victoria Square

Dressing for the weather

I arrived in Belfast in mid-to-late September which meant facing temperatures hovering in the teens, a stark contrast to our average 32-degree weather back home but also a relief from our hot and humid tropical weather and a great opportunity to stock up on cute, cozy fits. Top tip from me: Uniqlo heat-tech is a must.

Given Malaysia’s tropical climate, acquiring winter clothing posed a challenge. If you find yourself lacking a fall/winter wardrobe, head to the city centre. There, you’ll find standalone shops along the streets or opt for the familiar mall experience at Victoria Square or Castle Court Shopping centre, similar to what we’re accustomed to in Malaysia. And if you’re lost and Google Maps fails, don’t hesitate to ask locals for directions. Belfast is incredibly friendly – I’ve yet to meet anyone who wasn’t happy to guide me (trust me, I get lost often).

Shops along Donegall Place

Shops along Donegall Place

Getting around

You’ll probably be making your way to campus for your course orientation in the first few weeks of coming here. There are 2 main modes of transport: walking or the bus. While I recommend walking to campus and familiarising yourself with the area, sometimes the weather isn’t co-operative.

At these times, the bus is amazing. Purchasing a bus ticket is easy – either through the Translink app or manually tapping upon boarding. If you’re aged 16-23, consider applying for a yLink card for discounted fares. Several buses drop you near the picturesque Lanyon Building. 

Metro bus in Belfast

Pink metro bus

Get involved with Malaysian student societies!

Once you’ve taken a photo by the gates, explore the nearby McClay Library and the Botanic Gardens. Don’t miss the new One Elmwood Student Centre opposite Lanyon – a huge space to meet up with friends and colleagues, it’s also where our Freshers Fair highlighting our societies is held.

Some societies that I have joined in the past are, MSSNI (Malaysian Students’ Society NI) where I got to meet other Malaysians and honestly felt as if I was back in Malaysia; and QISS (Queen’s International Student Society), a great society to meet other internationals.

The McClay Library from Botanic Gardens

Walk through Botanic Gardens before a study session in the McClay

Queen's accommodation

Let’s talk accommodation. My experience revolves around Elms BT1, just steps away from the city centre. I loved student accommodation, it’s a great way to meet other freshers and build a social circle. Making friends in your shared apartments is a good way to start but don’t overlook the unique events in the common room to expand your social connections.

One thing I miss most about BT1 is the gym as it’s well-equipped and located within the building itself - hard to skip a workout, especially during winter.  Beyond BT1 there are other accommodations like BT2, BT9, Swanston, John Bell and Willow Walk, to name a few.

Running machines in the gym at Elms BT1

Membership is free for those staying in Elms BT1 accommodation

Change is difficult and scary but often necessary for personal growth to occur. The past 3 years of academic diversity, social engagements, support from the friends I’ve met through Queen’s and multicultural exposure have contributed significantly to my development and enriched my perspective in many ways.

To any prospective students, whether you’re from Malaysia or not, I hope this has been able to shed some light on life in Belfast and I’ll see you in campus soon!

Find out more

Malaysia: Admissions Guide

Student life in Belfast

Welcome and Orientation at Queen's

More blogs by Malaysian students at Queen's

Abigail Hee Xue Zhen

Medicine | Undergraduate student | Malaysia

Hey, my name is Abigail, and I'm from Malaysia. I'm currently in my 3rd year of Medicine and when I'm not studying I love to cafe-hunt and restaurant-review in Belfast! (so if anyone needs a recommendation, I'm your person!). I'm also quite an active person, I love to gym, hike and find nearby trail walks in parks and nearby forests.

I've also been involved in QISS (Queen's International Student Society) for two years as part of the committee and as a performer. Through it I've been able to meet students of diverse cultural backgrounds and it has broadened my perspectives and made me more culturally aware.

This is my 5th year living in the UK as an international student and I would love to use my experience to help and guide incoming students, so don't hesitate to reach out!

Abigail Hee