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Student Life

Making the Most of Queen’s as a Mature Student

You have real-world experience to draw from, but also real-world responsibilities and distractions to balance. BSc Nursing student Alex Clyde gives her top tips.

When I started my degree at Queen’s as a mature student, I was very set on being studious and focused on my goals. However, as time went on, I realised that the best part of being at university in Belfast was being a student and embracing all aspects of student life. So here is some advice if you are thinking of returning to uni as an older student:

Treat yo’self

Let yourself go on lunches with other students. I know it’s expensive and there are houses to run and children to look after, but the ability to unwind, rant and sometimes even cry with my uni friends over a lunch is vital to surviving exam stress - and life stress in general. 

Here, some recommendations for places near campus where you can have a nice lunch for no more than £10:

1. The Parlour

The food is great and the drinks are reasonably priced; a favourite when I’ve an hour or two to chill and for those momentous occasions, like making it through your first week. Find it

2. Clements

Great for a sandwich, and the Elmwood branch is always quiet, so I love it for a working lunch. Find it

3. Maggie Mays

Alex with some of her uni friends

Slightly more expensive and always busy, but it cannot be beaten for food. Find it. 

Meet and make friends (of all ages)

Honestly, the worst part of the first day is the sea of faces and having to awkwardly introduce yourself to the person sitting next to you. Worse yet, coming up with one interesting fact (I always go with the fact that I once met Clare Balding).


However, there is nothing better than meeting several like-minded individuals who save you a seat and will lend you a few quid when you’ve forgot your purse. While I love the ‘golden oldies’ I have been lucky enough to have as friends, I also highly recommend getting to know some of the younger students on your course.


Some of my favourite people on my course are younger than me. They add a new perspective to things I hadn’t even considered and, while sometimes they make me feel old, sometimes, they make me glad I’m old. I’m grateful for their friendship.

My expectation:

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My reality:

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Go to the pub

Yes, I know going for a drink makes you feel like you are almost cheating on all the hard work you are doing or all the sacrifices you and your family have made to be here, but you are a STUDENT. Regardless of age, you deserve to enjoy this part of the student experience that everyone keeps talking about. This might be the only time in your new life that you will have this much time off. Enjoy it. Start in the Student’s Union and make your way down Botanic on a pub crawl. Take all your new friends with you, let your hair down and celebrate every success, failure and minor life event possible.


I’ve been lucky enough to experience university as an 18 year old and as a mature student and I can say I’m enjoying it much more now. I know exactly what I want when I graduate, and I can pay for heating and food.

 Alex is loving student life

Alex on a night out with uni friends

Alex has made plenty of friends on her course

So, get out there and enjoy yourself, you can be both a student and a mature(-er) student!

Thinking of returning to education as a mature student?

Get back on course at Queen's. 

Discover Nursing at Queen's


Photo: Alex Clyde, BSc Nursing
Alex Clyde, BSc Nursing