Why this Northern England city is an undiscovered gem.
When I told people that I was going to England on a semester abroad, I got the same response almost every single time: “Are you going to London?” Close, but not quite. I was going somewhere even better- Leeds.
When I corrected my friends and family by telling them that I was going to Leeds, which is about three hours north of London, their reactions made it clear that they thought poorly of Northern England. Simply saying the words, “Northern England” was enough to induce mental images of thick accents, awful weather, unappetizing food, and general misery. Reality could not have been farther from this- Leeds is a wonderful place that blows these perceptions out of the water.
Here is why you should consider a semester abroad at the University of Leeds and why I fell in love with the city:
The large international student population– The University of Leeds draws a large crowd of students into their study abroad program. My flatmates alone came from all over the world: Japan, Argentina, Australia, and New Zealand. A large international community is great because you get the chance to meet students who are in the same situation as you- living away from home in a new country, which means making friends is a breeze.
The student union– The University of Leeds was voted as having one of the best student unions in the U.K. Not only does it have 3 nightclubs, 4 restaurants, a rooftop terrace, and an award-winning dining centre, it also has over 300 clubs for students to participate in. My favourite? The quidditch club, where Leeds has a team that competes with other universities in the U.K. If quidditch isn’t up your alley, perhaps the tea-making society, Leeds student radio, horse-riding club, lishi tai chi, or the belly dance society will be.
Student nightlife– Leeds has a reputation for being one of the best cities in the U.K. to go out in, and with a student population of 65,000, it’s not hard to see why. Thanks to three sizeable universities that are located in the heart of the city, there are clubs and bars on just about every street corner. Boredom is not a concern in this city, where it is common to go out every day of the week.
Links to Europe– Leeds has an international airport, which makes travelling to other parts of the continent very easy. It is also a 40-minute train ride from the Manchester airport, which often has even cheaper flights than Leeds. Flying not your thing? Leeds has a train station that goes all over the U.K., and if you get a student rail card, you save 1/3 on all train tickets. If you still aren’t convinced, Leeds is also serviced by Megabus, which is a super economical bus company that goes to all major cities in the U.K.- I took it to London for 8 pounds return.
The campus– The University of Leeds has a large campus to facilitate its 30,000 students. Amongst many beautiful brick buildings you will find a park in the middle of campus, which in the springtime is filled with daffodils. It also has a state of the art gym, complete with a training pool, a rock climbing wall, squash courts, basketball courts, and a large weight room. Plus, it offers exercise classes which are free with your gym membership so you can bootcamp and bodypump yourself silly.
The University itself– The University of Leeds is one of the highest-ranked in the U.K., and it belongs to the Russell Group, which is the same group to which Cambridge, Oxford, and London School of Economics belong. No threat of receiving a subpar education here! For the most convincing argument, perhaps start with this one when telling your parents why you should go to Leeds.
by Kearan Meagher – University of Calgary – Canada