Nottingham city centre

April 24, 2024, by UoN School of English

Moving From a Small Town to a City for University: Why it’s Not as Daunting as it Might Seem

When starting university, it can feel like everyone you meet is from London or bigger cities around the UK. They’re used to the hustle and bustle of day-to-day life; they know the transport network systems and they don’t even bat an eyelid when it comes to having Uber at your disposal. Even though everyone gets nervous about starting university, coming from a small area and feeling like a tiny fish in a big pond almost seems like whole other challenge. You might feel like you have to adjust to an environment that can seem so different to what you are used to at home. However, as a third year now, I have found that there are more similarities to home than I first thought, that living in a city is actually an amazing opportunity and something I will sorely miss after graduating.

The first thing that helps the transition is the fact that Nottingham is a relatively small city in comparison to the likes of Birmingham, Manchester and obviously London. This isn’t to say at all that Nottingham doesn’t have excellent nightlife. There’s plenty of bars and restaurants as well as other things like mini golf, the cinema and an ice rink if drinking isn’t your thing. What I am saying, however, is that Nottingham shouldn’t feel too overwhelming. It’s the perfect stepping up point, so you don’t feel like you’re thrown into the deep end of city life. The fantastic thing is that everywhere in Nottingham is walkable and you’ll be familiar with the likes of Beeston, the city centre, campus and even Radford by the end of your first or second year. By the time you reach third year, you’ll know Nottingham like the back of your hand.

Coming from a small area, you tend to find that everyone knows everyone. Whilst this can have pros and cons, it contributes to the strong community feeling that emerges from living in a village or town, and university is no different. Within a few weeks at university, you’ll start to recognise people around campus, you’ll more than likely run into people in a club, and you’ll probably have familiar faces in your lectures too. This means the community spirit is still very much present, even in a city. From sports clubs to lectures to the Sainsbury’s local, you’ll always run into a familiar face. Even if you’re not particularly close with that person, it can be a comfort to know that you are not and will never be alone.

Trent Building seen from across University Park campus.University Park Campus is like a small town in itself, so you should hopefully feel settled almost immediately. It might even be better than what you have access to at home, I know this was the case for me! David Ross is a state-of-the-art gym, Portland has so many places to eat, and Hallward Library is great for when you (finally) start doing your work, to name just a few places.

Once you’ve settled, you’ll love that city life has loads to offer. There’s never a dull day in the city centre and there’s plenty of things to do. Nottingham has brilliant transport links, so you’ll never have to beg anyone for a lift again. From Uber to the tram to the 34 Bus (which will become your best friend in second and third year), it’s great having options. No more prebooking a taxi before a night out!Wollaton Hall.

I mentioned some things to do previously but I really mean it when I say you’ll be thrilled at all the choices thrown your way. At home I’m normally stuck between my three local pubs which I’ve been to a million times already, but here even as a third year, there are places I’ve still never ventured to yet. Nottingham Castle is full of rich history; Motorpoint Arena is great to see your favourite bands and you can’t miss the Christmas Market. Not to mention Wollaton Hall which was used as a set in the film The Dark Knight Rises!

So, navigating Nottingham isn’t something to fear. It’s perfectly normal to be nervous when moving to university, especially in an unfamiliar city, but once you arrive here, you’ll see the opportunities that await you are too good to miss.

— Amber Lord, 3rd year BA English and History  

Image credits: Ben Spray, vitou ream, and ian kelsall, all on Unsplash

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