Orienting, Irish Style

I have been attending international student orientation at Queens the past three days. I can’t say that the sessions themselves are all that interesting, but I have learned a lot about how things ‘work’ around here based on how the whole thing is organized. Or not organized.

I’ve met students literally from all over the world: China, Malaysia, Iran, France, Germany, and Texas.

My biggest complaint about orientation is that all international students are lumped together, and we pretty much all have to sit through the same sessions, even though we may be entering with very different experiences. Just to give you an idea, among the ‘international’ population at Queens, you would have one semester or one year study abroads, students from the European Union, undergraduate students, masters students, and phd students. Some of us have been to Belfast before, and some haven’t. Some speak English well and some don’t. Yet a large majority of the content tried to cover all groups.

Just to give you one example of what I mean, ‘Accommodation at Queens’ was a session on, you guessed it, student accommodation at Queens. They do have services available for students who arrange private accommodations for themselves, but the guy who talked there rambled on about all the things that could go wrong leasing and how complicated it could be and then concluded saying he knew 90% of students who lived in private housing were fine but he only heard the bad cases, and really that Queens housing is a better value anyway.

Of course, nicely, they don’t make native English speakers sit through English classes, and only students who had visas had to sit through the session on the duties of the student & school in regards to the visa and the border agency.

The timing is strange to me. Many of the sessions are listed back to back, but we end up with 20 minutes of free time or more. Today we sat through one session (‘Accommodation at Queens’) and then had, yay, an hour an a half before the next session. Then another hour and a half. Free time is nice, but it has been a little hard to fill. Not enough time to do much, but too much time to not do anything. So I have been reading a bit, writing family, and wandering around the area. I’ve had 2 of my 3 lunches outside in the nearby Botanical Gardens, which has been nice.

All in all, it has been interesting, but more because of how things are run rather than the information we are given. Next week school orientation commences, so I’ll be getting more orientation from the School of History and Anthropology. Oh, interestingly enough, the school has apparently recently been ranked one of the top 20 history schools in the world, at least according to a fellow student. I’m sure I’ll learn more about that next week. Of course, I have no details on what the orientation schedule is.

I ride the bus every day. That is delightful; I, so far, really enjoy riding the bus.

I walk in to this everyday:
Main campus of Queens University in Belfast
It’s a high point, for sure.

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