When I initially made Queen’s my first choice for studying English and Linguistics I thought it was because I loved the course and thought the city was brilliant, but I suppose the idea of £2,500 off my fees every year provided I got the grades was quite enticing too. My mum, on the other hand, said something quite different; she thought that I had a “romantic notion” about moving across the water. It had always been my intention to move away for university, with my insurance choice being University of Edinburgh. There are few places in the UK that feel further from rural Cheshire than Edinburgh and Belfast. That being said, it certainly wasn’t easy. While I had made friends with my flat mates in Elms and got to know some of the girls on my course, it wasn’t until I reluctantly came back to Belfast after Christmas in my first year that things started to pick up. I hadn’t hated my first semester exactly, but at the same time it hadn’t been the experience that I had heard about from so many people who claimed they had found life long best friends, been on adventures and experienced uni life to the full. That being the case, I decided to do something about it.
Upon returning in January I found the best group of friends I could have asked for at the time, the consequence of a post-exam celebration in Cuckoo. However, people develop and can drift apart, so while the original group may not be together anymore, I truly value them all because at that time they were a part of so many memories, our first night out together being one of my favourites. The next month I found a fabulous group of people and together we started a new society. One thing to be said about Musical Theatre folk is that they certainly don’t do things by halves, and we embarked on a whirlwind journey that I would not change for the world. It was by throwing myself into so much more than just my course that I really started to live the university experience I had dreamed of.
As far as I’m concerned, and as long as you aren’t failing your course, this is the time to be partying until 6am, befriending strangers, falling in love and doing things you only ever dreamed before. But I also think it is very important to remember that there is a country outside of Belfast. It wasn’t until I had nearly finished my first year that I actually ventured outside the city on a road trip to Portrush and an overnight stay in Dublin but they were by far some of my favourite days and my only regret would be not having done it sooner. University is what you make of it so don’t let anything hold you back.