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Exploring Northern Irish Culture: Insights from an American Student

Moving to Belfast gives international students the opportunity to immerse themselves in a unique and vibrant culture. American PG student Sami looks back on what she has experienced during her time in Northern Ireland.

Map of Ireland

After a year of living in Northern Ireland, I can honestly say that the culture is completely different than anything I had expected before moving here. Even though I had studied abroad in London, England for a month my senior year and was excited to return to the UK, the cultures within England, Wales, Scotland, and Northern Ireland are drastically different. The cultures differ in the same way if visiting American North and then visiting the American South. Although I am by no means an expert in this topic, I have found that the culture here is extremely unique and I can’t wait to tell you a bit about it in my blog!  

Aerial view of Belfast City Centre

You will always receive a warm welcome in Belfast


When coming to university, I never thought that spelling would confuse me as much as it has. British English and American English have a lot of words that are spelled differently. I cannot tell you the number of times that my computer (set to American English) has autocorrected words that were spelled correctly in British English. Some examples include colour/color, labour/labor, and neighbour/neighbor.  

To make matters more confusing, Northern Ireland has its own unique vocabulary. For example, wee, eejit, melter, and scundered are just some of the many words that you might hear on the street. You can read about more words in a blog that I wrote back in March. 

Sign saying craic it up

Northern Ireland has a very unique vocabulary

I’ll never forget the confused look my dog gave me when I told her to have a ‘wee sit’ when I was back in America for the holidays.    

Additionally, Northern Ireland uses the metric system, not the imperial system. Therefore, feet and inches are measured in metres, and pounds and ounces are measured in grams.  


From my experience, Northern Ireland has some of the nicest and friendliest people that I’ve ever met! I have found that whenever I need directions, someone is keen to help! Furthermore, I have found that just as much as I have enjoyed listening to the Northern Irish accent, people are really interested in my accent as well (I have found that accents are a big part of the culture and if you have a good ear, you can pinpoint what country someone is from).  

Group of three students talking in the Quad

People from Belfast and beyond are known for their friendliness and helpfulness


Pubs are a part of the Irish culture. They are places where groups come together, drink, and listen to music. I have found that I love visiting pubs and listening to live music. The songs played vary depending on what type of pub you visit! For example, The Points play Irish music and also has Irish dancers. Pubs are a great place to learn more about the culture of Northern Ireland!  

The song "Belle of Belfast City" is one of the most played songs in Belfast (both at pubs and sports games) and it will be one of those songs that will forever be stuck in my head!  

Band performing Northern Bar Belfast

A buzzing bar scene - Picture courtesy of NI Tourist Board

Talking about the weather is also a surprising part of the culture. I had been in Ireland for one week of what felt like nonstop rain. I have also enjoyed the cool summer nights that Belfast offers, however I have found that I have had significantly more conversations about the weather here than I ever would have in America.  

All in all, my time in Northern Ireland has been amazing and when I leave, there will be part of my heart left in Northern Ireland!   

Find out more

More student blogs about Belfast and Northern Ireland

Read more about the Student Experience

What's the Craic? NI Vocab Guide

Sami Koitz

Conflict Transformation & Social Justice | Postgraduate Student | Maryland USA

I've always been interested in the Middle East, specifically the Israeli-Palestinian conflict and non-profits that work towards building bridges between divided societies.

I am from Maryland, USA (about a nine-hour flight from Queens) and graduated in 2022 from Susquehanna University with a double major in Communication Studies & International Studies.

Outside of academics, I am a member of the equestrian team, Jewish Society, and wakeboarding club. I love meeting new people and I look forward to chatting with you.

Sami Koitz