Hometown: Omagh, Northern Ireland

Year of Course: 4th year (final)

About You

Tell us a little about yourself such as your hobbies/interests that are related or not related to your course of study

Hi, I’m Jess. I am 21 years old and come from a small town in Northern Ireland. I have a love for both eating and baking cakes. Actually, my favourite thing to do is head out with friends or my fiancé for a great meal in Edinburgh. Over the past few summers I have taught myself to wake board which has been really fun on warm summer nights. I work part time in retail which has given me a great passion for shopping too! I just love good nights with good friends, family, and my fiancé. I run a blog called Bright Red Wellies which has let me see some beautiful places and document my university years.

How did you come to choose this course and why QMU?

A few years ago I came to Edinburgh for a family wedding. After only a day here I fell in love with everything Edinburgh had to offer. I remember leaving and saying out loud “this is my city”. I wanted to stay in Northern Ireland, but Scotland was always my second choice. After getting one too many rejections from universities in Northern Ireland, I packed my bags and headed for Edinburgh.

I had always known I wanted to be in a job where I could change lives for the better. My mother is a Speech and Language Therapist so I decided to go on work experience with her. After a few days I felt this was definitely the career for me. Nothing felt more worthwhile than helping people in need learn to communicate in the most effective way.  

Living Away from Home

If you are living in halls what’s the best part?

The best part of living in halls was definitely the people. Moving in was quite scary as I didn’t know anyone in Edinburgh. However, I moved in with girls who had very different lives, studied different courses, and could make me laugh. It is great to meet such different people!

If you are NOT living at home (either in halls or independent flat), what are the top three items that you packed that you wouldn’t be without?

  1. My first and favourite item is my camera. It is in my handbag at all times so I can take pictures when I am with friends, food, anything slightly pretty.
  2. For my second item I definitely choose my favourite mug from home. After a long day, I love coming home to snuggle up with a movie and a cuppa. My mug right now is the floral Cath Kidston mug, it is massive! In the flat we got each other Secret Santa mugs a few Christmases ago, I bring it with me to every new flat now.
  3. Finally, a good recipe book will help you along as a student. My recommendations are Deliciously Ella, Save With Jamie, and Mary Berry 'Cook The Perfect...'. These keep me from a lot of burnt meals and starving flatmates. There are sadly still many cooking disasters though!

 Life in Edinburgh – what’s the best experience you’ve had so far in Edinburgh? Are there any hidden ‘gems’ you’d like to share?

There are so many to choose from! My flatmates and loved ones have given me wonderful memories to treasure since day one. I have loved going to the Grand Ball at the end of second semester each year. You get dressed up, have a great meal, dance the night away, and finally arrive home late to devour left over cake. What could be better?

My fondest memories all revolve around some kind of food. My hidden gems for food are the Lioness of Leith, Indigo Yard, Mary's Milk Bar, Holyrood 9A and Papii. With lots of lovely people I have had delicious cupcakes at Cuckoo’s bakery and mouth watering burgers at Burgers Meats Bun…there are just too many places to choose from. The best thing about Edinburgh is that there is always a new place to try!


"I only attended the Open Day once I had been accepted to the course and had to choose between Edinburgh and Glasgow. I loved Edinburgh because of its old, quaint streets and relaxed city lifestyle. QMU was so close to the centre and had new rooms to stay in – so I was sold!"
Jess Aiken, Northern Ireland

The Course

What’s been the highlight so far?

I have truly enjoyed my placements. I have had the privilege to see many new places across the centre of Scotland. Every single placement has been with different people and clients so you really see it all!

Any advice for students who might be interested in this course?

Be prepared to work hard and very early starts. Placement is great but brings with it very early cold mornings with buses and trains. However, grab yourself a coffee and you are good to go (maybe even a cheeky sausage roll if you are getting up extra early) Otherwise, just always remember what a worthwhile course you are doing because you are helping someone in need. This will help you get through every single deadline and late night study session!

Any future plans after graduation?

I am moving back to Northern Ireland in July before marrying a lovely farmer! After all the excitement of graduation and the wedding, I am going to start job hunting – the big bad world awaits!

Life as a Student at QMU

Are you a member of a QMU club or society? If so, what was the reason behind your choice and what do you enjoy most about it?

I have been part of the Christian Union since the beginning. It has been a fantastic journey with this society. I have been able to meet lots of people who have the same faith as me, join in with the same triumphs and struggles, and meet together. This was the most helpful during freshers when you get to go to grub crawls, ceilidhs, and acoustic nights. They truly helped me settle in and have kept me going over the years! 

What’s your ‘top tip’ for making the most of being a student?

Just get involved, don't sit back and wait for things to happen. Get to know your flatmates, get involved in campus life, and get yourself a job if you can as it helps you get to know people outside of the 'uni' circle.


Story published 2016-2017

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