Things the English don’t know about Norn Iron

For an English student coming to QUB, there’s an awful lot we won’t understand about Belfast. Is it Row-sheen? Roy-sin? Raisin?

national noad

The word ‘Craic’

“Waz da craic?” The most common phrase of our Belfastian people, in fact the Irish in general. But it means “what’s happening/up?” as opposed to the slang for cocaine. Believe me, the craic is everywhere over here.

Tea is the answer to everything

The English sure do drink a lot of tea. But for the Irish, a cup o’ tea is a work of art. It takes training and ambition to achieve the perfect brew. Prepare yourself, your tea making skills will be judged.

Nothing better than a fresh cup of Punjana

Nothing better than a fresh cup of Punjana

There’s apparently a big difference between Protestants and Catholics

In England most people don’t even know where their nearest church is, let alone what religion it even belongs to. Whereas over here…don’t even.

Taxi drivers can talk – AND you can sit in the front

Taxi drivers know the craic the best and when you have to put up with drunken students it’s a necessary job requirement. Our local drivers do the job to a great standard, mainly because they chat away and might even whack out a compliment here or there.

Although the black cabs (the only ones you can flag down) are a bit of a rip off when it comes to taxi fares, you will certainly have a good natter in the front seat.

One of the many taxi companies in Belfast – ensuring a safe and cheery ride home

One of the many taxi companies in Belfast – ensuring a safe and cheery ride home

Champ has scallions in it

Scallions? None other than spring onions. As students we may think the brown ones do a good enough job but over here scallions are a regular member of the fridge. Champ? Simply mashed potato with spring onions and sometimes bacon. Sounds fairly basic but the random combination is just delicious.

The Ulster Fry

Sticking with food. You may think the full English is good but wait until you discover the delights of soda and potato bread. The fry will never be the same again without them.

The places to eat

When you discover your first ever Maggie Mays or Boojum you will realise food is a big deal over here. The massive portions offered are delicious and so worth the fiver they cost. It will be the thing you miss the most when you return home for the holidays.

No better place to recover from a St Paddy's hangover than  Maggie May's with a Full Fry

No better place to recover from a St Paddy’s hangover than Maggie May’s with a Full Fry


Over here you are guaranteed to meet a Sean, Patrick and James. But sometimes you’ll come across the following.

Don’t panic, they are just pronounced COMPLETELY different to the way they are written.

Niamh (Neve), Saoirse (Seersha), Roisin (Rowsheen), Deaghlan (Declan), Sinead (Shinaid), Aisling (Ashleen), will be just a few of the ones you’ll come across. Just another tip – Sinn Fein-  it’s Shin Fain not Sin Fin.

Carry out

When you’re preparing for a night out and then hear the phrase “carry out”, don’t worry. It doesn’t mean you have to have a massive “feed” before partying the night away, this is the Irish call for “more drink”.

Prime place to stop off on your way to a swol

Prime place to stop off on your way to a swol

The accent

Perhaps the biggest surprise when I came to Belfast was not everyone sounds like Gerard Butler out of P.S. I Love You. To be honest, the Belfast accent won’t be voted the sexiest accent any time soon, but will sure be up there amongst the least understandable.

Students from “down south” (refers to people from the Republic of Ireland) really do sound as beautiful as you imagine, but none of my friends have yet to appreciate being called “you’re like a wee leprechaun”.

And be aware those with an English accent will be mocked, constantly.