Overseas university spotlight: Queen's University Belfast (UK)

Queens University Belfast was easily one of the best surprises out of all the universities abroad I've visited.


I really didn't know what to expect, having visited Belfast as a tourist 14 years ago.


Queen's University Belfast was easily one of the best surprises out of all the universities abroad I've visited..


Here are the highlights from my visit in June 2022!

The university design was based on Magdalen College at Oxford
The university's design was based on Magdalen College at Oxford

Belfast

Maybe it's because I'm a history nerd, super fan of the Titanic, have an eclectic music taste or because I'm someone who appreciates the natural environment, but Belfast is truly one of the most fascinating places out there.

Our group at the Titanic Museum (the building is the same height as the ship itself!)
Our group at the Titanic Museum (the building is the same height as the ship itself!)

Set in Northern Ireland, a country that is geographically part of Ireland but economically and politically part of the UK, Belfast has certainly seen its share of issues in years past between those who wanted a unified Ireland versus those who wanted to continue to be part of the UK.

Political murals
Political murals
The Peace Wall
The Peace Wall

Nowadays, however, it's the safest region in the UK (UK British Crime Surveys 2019/20), home to more than 50 parks and is a UNESCO City of Music, where artists like Van Morrison, Snow Patrol and Two Door Cinema Club (a personal favorite) hail from.


And it's one of the UK's most affordable cities -- truly!

Belfast City Hall with a Titanic Memorial
Belfast City Hall with a Titanic Memorial

If you like alleyways with cool pubs, street art and pop-up restaurants, you'll love the vibrant Cathedral Quarter (which I need to come back and explore further).

Cathedral Quarter is actually named after St. Anne's Cathedral nearby, which has a peculiar spikey spire sticking out of its roof (apparently it's sometimes called the 'rod to God'!).

St. Anne's Cathedral - and the rod
St. Anne's Cathedral - and the rod

With a population of around 350,000, Belfast is large enough but also compact at the same time, so much so that you could easily walk from one side of the city centre to the other within 20 minutes.


And when I asked one of the students what was the biggest difference between living here versus back in the U.S., her answer was just that: walkability.


But if you do happen to jump in the car, for those who love the outdoors, you're never more than a 20-minute drive from the beach or a hill walk (highly recommend checking out the Giant's Causeway, but I'm told Napoleon's Nose is also worth exploring, among so many others!).


My trip to Northern Ireland in 2009!
My trip to the Northern Ireland coast in 2009!
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge
Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge