As graduation approaches and distant relatives incessantly ask us “well, what’s the plan then?” It’s easy to feel confused by the myriad of options on the path of our newly bought graduation shoes.
While career direction, company size, grad scheme or not are all relevant questions to ask, I started with this one; should I stay in Belfast or should I go back to London?
Since completing a one year industrial placement in London this question has haunted me. In the end it came down to a pros and cons list of the two cities.
The contenders: Belfast vs London.
The prize: my twenties.
• Cool sky line.
• Potential to feel like a ‘The Apprentice’ candidate at any given moment.
• Might spot some celebrities. (I shared a carriage on the district line with Sir Ian McKellen once, what a thrill!)
• A transport system envied around the world that runs all night long.
• The potential to live somewhere like this someday
• Sweating so profusely on the aforementioned transport system that you have to spend your entire weekly food allowance on a refreshment upon arrival in central London.
• After hanging up your tourist hat and becoming an official Londoner you will have to deal with real tourists. Constantly. Everywhere.
• You’ll have to invest in expensive skin care products because the air quality will age you 15 years during your 6 month probationary period.
• Having to live somewhere like this… only £700 per month! Bargain.
• With +253mm more rain per year and 30 minutes less sunshine per day on average, Belfast won’t gain any sun worshippers from London.
• The Translink bus timetable (also known as Belfast’s most read work of fiction).
• You won’t be able to get home after 11pm without shelling out a bomb on a taxi.
• Flights abroad are limited and you often have to choose a layover option to get to your destination.
• You will never feel the need to run up or down escalators and can enjoy a slower pace of life.
• The cost of property is considerably lower than in London and you might even be able to save up a deposit a few years before moving into a retirement home.
• These low costs are also appreciated by foreign businesses who are flocking to the Northern Irish capital to set up shop. This means lots of jobs for us fresh faced graduates!
• You can pop into a Belfast pub and pick up a pint for just over £4. You might get lucky and sit down beside a star of one of the many films produced in Northern Ireland.
After making my lists, weighing my options and still struggling to make up my mind I realised I forgot the best thing about Belfast. The people. People who work hard do well in Belfast and it isn’t just about who you know.
While you’re sipping a bargain pint in one of the city’s beautiful bars you’ll no doubt come across a character or two. You might miss the last bus home. You might get caught in a rain shower without an umbrella more than once. But you’ll make great friends, you’ll build strong professional relationships and if you really want them, you’ll find great opportunities.
That’s why I have decided to stay.
Article written by Radar Contributor Sophie Gaston, final year student at Ulster University.