Life at university

New environment

Coming from a big city like London, adjusting to Lancaster was definitely a challenge. Being from London, it’s easy to think everywhere else in the United Kingdom is just like London, but this is not at all the case. A word a lot of people associate with London is diversity. Around 300 different languages are spoken in London and there are at least 14 different faiths practised there. Lancaster is not quite like London, although the university itself is quite diverse with almost 3000 international students.

London being the capital of England and the United Kingdom, it is expected that it would have certain features that other cities in the UK don’t. Apart from the obvious differences between London and Lancaster (population size etc.) there are subtle things I find myself noticing. Small things like the different transport system, for example all the main roads through Central Lancaster are one way. In London public transport is operated by Transport for London (TFL) and uses the oyster system.  However in Lancaster the cash system is still being used on buses, but there definitely is easy access to cash machines on campus with various ATM machines around Alexandra Square.

However, there are also good points to living in Lancaster, one being the beautiful scenery. For instance, living in Furness college I am able to enjoy amazing views and take great snapchat pictures through my window of the sunset and sunrise. In first year, around freshers week I had the opportunity to go on a trip to the world-famous Lake District National Park. Part of the trip was a boat ride on the actual lake, I really enjoyed this trip because it was a great way to bond more with my flatmates and discover the beauty of Nature from the boat. Unlike London, Lancaster provides the opportunity to enjoy the magnificence of the countryside.

Friendships

I think most people form friendship groups with people they gel with during fresher’s week, their flatmates in first year or people on their course. Once these friendship groups are formed, they basically stick together for the remaining duration of their degrees.

One of the common things people say about university is that you will make lifelong friends and make useful connections for your future career.  However,  at university people are still developing and finding out who they are so are. Also, most people only do a 3 year degree and 3 years go by so quickly, especially because it’s 3 academic years rather than 3 actual years.

I have met a lot of interesting people, studying a variety of degrees. I was surprised to find so many people from London as well, but I have also met people from all over the world which has been very educational for me. I met most of my friends through my course and joining societies like the African Caribbean society and the Pentecostal Gospel Choir.

In first year my flatmates and I would usual gather in the communal kitchen and use this time to learn about each others cultures and backgrounds.  I really appreciated that everyone I came across were very welcoming, especially the Freshers Representatives that we were had who were very helpful. Each flat were assigned student representatives, (who were usually 2nd year students) to help freshers settle in well.

Social life

There are so many events happening all over campus. Make the most of these even if it means going by yourself. A good way to improve your social life at university is by joining societies. Joining clubs and societies will give you lots of chances to meet other like-minded people, make friends and have fun. Social media is also a great way to keep in touch with what’s going on, for instance, Facebook is still used to invite people to events.

Last but not least, as simple as it may sound, just talk to people. Get to know your flatmates, people in your lectures, tutorials, seminars etc. because you never know what you could have in common. You could be in the same tutorial as someone and not know anything about them, this is why I like it when we have group or pair work during tutorials.

The simple fact that you study the same degree or study at the same university already creates so many things for you to talk about. I recently had an enlightening conversation with an international student in one of my tutorials, I learnt that we both share similar views and opinions on our modules. Also, these people can be very useful in terms of if you need help with assignments or revision.

Things To Do in Lancaster

Have you ever felt tired of all routines, assignments, never ending classes or group work? You feel like you need fresh air, yet you’re too lazy to go outside the city or do not want to spend too much money going out? Then… why don’t you explore our own city, Lancaster! Some of you might not realise that there are so many beautiful places that you can visit only 15 minutes from campus in 1 day!

Before you visit places around Lancaster, it might be good for you to know few facts about Lancaster. Some of you might probably know that Lancaster is the county town of Lancashire, England surrounding the River Lune. Lancaster, is a historic city in England with numerous buildings in Georgian architecture. You might realise when you’re going to the city center that there are many old buildings that you’ll never get tired of seeing!

Now, I will try to give you some ideas on what to do in Lancaster over the weekend. All you need to do is just to take a bus from campus and you’re good to go! 🙂

Lune Millennium Bridge

The first place that I would recommend is Lune Millennium Bridge. It is located near the Bus Station right behind Sainsbury’s. It spans the River Lune, Lancaster. The history of this bridge is that it was built to commemorate the millennium of 2000. It forms a “Y” shape and it is suitable for cyclists and pedestrians. Be ready for a surprise from this bridge as sometimes it will shake a bit when you’re walking on it 😀

Lancaster Castle

After you spend some time on Lune Millennium Bridge, you can take a walk to a hill right next to the bridge. 5-minutes-walk will bring you to one of the icons of our city, Lancaster Castle. You can see the stunning views of Lancaster from above. This castle may have been founded around the 11th century and it used to be a prison! Owned by The Duchy of Lancaster (Her Majesty the Queen is the Duke of Lancaster), the castle has witnessed significant historical and political impact in the thousand years of its existence. Until 2001 it was still functioning as prison, but now it is open for public and tourist activity. If you want to learn more about its history, you can join the guided tour that is available inside the castle. You can also enjoy a cup of tea in the café inside the castle.

Lancaster Canal

Another attraction that you can visit in Lancaster is the peaceful Lancaster Canal. You can walk 10 minutes from Lancaster Castle to this place. You can also grab your lunch in at the White Cross Restaurant by the river. You can enjoy a nice lunch with river and bridge view as well as seeing some cute ducks along the river 🙂

Ashton Memorial Park

This place might be my favorite place in Lancaster! It is reaaaalllllyyyyyyyy beautiful especially on a sunny day. You can take a walk here but it’s quite a distance from the canal or you can just take a bus whereas you still need to climb a bit to reach this place. Many people called Ashton Memorial Park “England’s grandest folly” and the “Taj Mahal of the North” because this iconic building was commissioned by Lord Ashton as a tribute to his late wife.

You will first be welcomed by Williamson Park, a pretty park with some small ponds and various kind of plants. After that, you will get this view.

When you are walking up to the building, you can see the city of Lancaster from above. It is breathtaking! This spot is also the highest point in Lancaster where you can see the whole city. There is a pretty dome that is also open to the public. Please note that the interior will be on renovation from November 21 2016 to April 2017 so you might not be able to go inside. But do not worry because the outdoor view of Ashton Memorial is already amazing!

So yeah, there are many things that we can do in Lancaster right? An important thing that you should note before going around the city is: CHECK THE WEATHER FORECAST! It won’t be as fun if the rain is pouring hard. In my case, I tend to go out when the sun is up with a clear and bright sky.

Now… Are you ready to go? 🙂

P.S photos are from writer’s personal collection