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Queen’s will be the best thing to ever happen to you, an open letter to my 17-year-old self

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Dear Larisa,

As you are nervously preparing to take your first steps on your life-changing journey to Queen’s, I wanted to reassure you that adventure, excitement and happiness are waiting for you. The first stage of your Queen’s journey will be at INTO – a centre that helps foreign language students progress into degree programmes at Queen’s. And all I can say that your time here will be one of the happiest of your life.


I know you’re scared, but INTO offers a great transition stage between high school and university. You’ll do a lot of growing up at INTO as you prepare for adult life, but you’ll also get plenty of support to make the change comfortable and enjoyable. I know you’re worried about making friends, but you needn’t be: you’ll make friends from all over the world. And the friendships you make at INTO will continue throughout your university life.


Right now, you are second-guessing whether Belfast is the right place for you. Don’t. I know, it’s a long way from your home in Russia, but the more you live in Northern Ireland, the more you will fall in love with it. You’ll be energised discovering the breath-taking natural beauty of places like the Giants Causeway and the Mourne Mountains.


However, you’ll soon learn that one’s destination is never a place, but a way of seeing things.

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When you get to Belfast, be brave. Go out, attend events and take the opportunity to join in activities. It might sound daunting, but it’s the best way to socialise and you’ll make new friends in no time. In fact, you’ll be surprised at how quickly you make new friends. Even when you are just sitting chilling in the Treehouse in Elms Village or in the Student’s Union. Yes, I know, talking to strangers is difficult and way outside your comfort zone, but if you give yourself the chance you will experience something great.


The best and most beautiful things in the world can’t be seen or touched, they must be felt with the heart.

Love Larisa (20)