Meet the Study Abroad Team: Leeds Top Tips

This post marks the 1 whole year since we launched the LeedsUniBound blog, and to celebrate we thought we would provide you with some insight into members of the Study Abroad team, and some hints and tips on the best things to do and places to go on campus and across Leeds!

Study Abroad Fair 2017
Top row from left to right: Steph Binks, Liz Simpson, Lisa Beare, Adam Parkin, Ashleigh Walsh, Alison Hughes, Ciara Middleton. Bottom row from left to right: Sophie Hollins, Kate Petty, Lucia Fiordelmondo

Introducing the team:

Adam Parkin: Outgoing Study Abroad Assistant

How long have you worked at the University of Leeds, and how did you end up working here?

Just over a year. I previously worked at a different university in their International Office and jumped at the chance to get more involved in study abroad, which is a particular passion of mine.

When and where did you study/work abroad?

I studied abroad for a term in Lille, France and for a year in Bilbao, Spain. I have also undertaken an Erasmus staff training week in Valencia, Spain.

Ashleigh Walsh: Outgoing Study Abroad Adviser

How long have you worked at the University of Leeds, and how did you end up working here?

I have worked at the University for five years. When I finished my postgrad degree, I knew I wanted to work with study abroad students and so was on the lookout for a role at one of the Yorkshire universities, even if it was an unrelated admin role at first. I was lucky that the perfect role came up in the Leeds Study Abroad Office just at the right time.

When and where did you study/work abroad?

I studied abroad at the University of Oxford in autumn 2007 and at the CUEF Université Stendahl Grenoble III in spring 2008 (I’m American and I did my BA at a small college in Massachusetts, USA). I then went on to do a masters at Oxford and ended up staying on in the UK to live and work after my degree.

Lisa Beare: Summer Schools Study Abroad Manager

How long have you worked at the University of Leeds, and how did you end up working here?

I’ve worked at the University in various roles for seven years and before that I was a student here! I liked the University and the city of Leeds so decided to stick around after graduating.

When and where did you study/work abroad?

My degree was German and Music so I spent a semester studying abroad in Leipzig and then did a six-month work placement in Berlin.

Liz Simpson: Incoming Study Abroad Manager

How long have you worked at the University of Leeds, and how did you end up working here?

I’ve worked at the University since 2001. I was moving to the area due to a change in personal circumstances and Study Abroad seemed an interesting field to work in so I applied for the role of Study Abroad Assistant. I’ve not been proved wrong!

When and where did you study/work abroad?

I worked abroad in the Netherlands and Belgium for almost two years after I finished Higher Education.

Steph Binks: Incoming Study Abroad Adviser

How long have you worked at the University of Leeds, and how did you end up working here?

3 years. I was a former student and having studied abroad, working for the study abroad office seemed like a good way to contribute to future students having study abroad experiences.

When and where did you study/work abroad?

2013/14 – City University of Hong Kong

Greg Miller: Head of Student Placements

How long have you worked at the University of Leeds, and how did you end up working here?

16 years! The reason I ended up here was because I studied at Leeds, moved away and then came back because I loved the city.

When and where did you study/work abroad?

Embarrassingly I didn’t. It wasn’t such a popular activity when I was at University.

Ciara Middleton: Incoming Study Abroad Assistant

How long have you worked at the University of Leeds, and how did you end up working here?

I’ve worked at the university for 2.5 years, but only 1 year in the Study Abroad Office. I am from Leeds originally and returned to the city after uni, and ended up getting a job here!

When and where did you study/work abroad?

In 2013 I studied abroad at the University of Massachusetts at Amherst.

Kate Petty: Incoming Study Abroad Assistant

How long have you worked at the University of Leeds, and how did you end up working here?

3 months- I’m the newbie of the office! I knew I wanted to make the move to Leeds so I started researching for jobs in the area. The University of Leeds is one of the biggest employers in the city and I saw the role advertised in the Study Abroad department and I thought it fit my interests and skills well. I haven’t looked back!

When and where did you study/work abroad?

Unfortunately I didn’t… I would have loved to study abroad but it wasn’t really a big thing to do at my university unless you studied languages. I love travelling and exploring new places and after I graduated in 2016 I took some time out and travelled around Australia and New Zealand for a few months.

Laundon Parky

On Campus:

What is your favourite spot on campus?

Adam: When I was a student here, it was the lower levels of the Brotherton Library, where it felt like I was travelling back in time due to all the old books and layout.

Ashleigh: There is a green patch just behind LUU where it’s lovely to sit on a sunny day.

Lisa: On sunny days I like to sit on the benches by Beech Grove Plaza with views of the oldest part of campus: Great Hall, Clothworkers Gates as well as the modern public art in the centre of the Plaza.

Liz: The precinct outside of the Union. The flags make me smile and there’s a real buzz during term time with all the activity that takes place.

Steph: As a student I liked sitting in the Hidden Café (now called Common Ground) in LUU.

Greg: The Student Union is great because it is the centre of so much activity. In complete contrast I also like St George’s field which is quiet and peaceful.

Ciara: There is a really pretty café in the courtyard of Baines Wing that’s all tucked away, and it’s lovely to sit out there on a sunny day.

Kate: As someone who is relatively new to campus, I am still finding my way around! I really like the area surrounding the Great Hall, particularly now it’s autumn with all the leaves. But I think my favourite place is the area outside the Union with the multi coloured flags, that’s what first struck me when I arrived on campus. It creates such a lovely atmosphere!

Are you currently involved in any activities/clubs/societies on campus? (or if you were a student here, were you a member of any clubs or societies then?) 

Adam: When I was a student, I was an active member of the Leeds Rock Society and continued to be involved after graduation. Nowadays I leave the societies to the students, but I still go to gigs.

Lisa: When I was a student I was a member of the German Society. Also in my first year I joined a choir which I am still a member of today; it’s called the Clothworkers Consort of Leeds.

Steph: When I was a student I was a member and then local president of AIESEC Leeds, a student society at LUU.

Greg: When I was a student I was the sports secretary for my hall of residence and was part of the football and hockey teams

Ciara: When I was at university, I was heavily involved in Nightline, which was a night-time listening and information service run by students, for students.

Kate: Steph, Ciara and I are currently doing a Body Jam exercise class together… it’s certainly an experience! My background is in sport so whilst I was at university I played football and volleyball. I was captain of my football team in my third year!



What is your favourite place to eat in Leeds?

Adam: The Adelphi does amazing pub food and Hansa’s vegetarian Indian food has won awards, but my favourite is probably Trinity Kitchen for all the variety of street food on offer.

Ashleigh: I like to eat somewhere different just about every time I eat out in Leeds and I’ve had some really good meals! One of my favourites is Brown’s in the Light (despite it being a chain!) – the building is beautiful, the food is tasty and although it can feel like quite a treat, there is often a deal to be had. The Cross Keys pub and Ambiente Tapas at Calls Landing are also very good.

Lisa: My two favourites at the moment are Tharavadu (South Indian food) and My Thai (Thai food)!

Liz: There are too many places to choose!

Steph: Thai Aroy Dee – good food, good portions and BYOB!

Greg: I like the tiled café in the Art Gallery for lunch.

Ciara: As a lifelong veggie, I absolutely love Roots & Fruits in the Grand Arcade for lunch, and I can’t resist Bundobust near the train station, which serves amazing vegetarian Indian street food.

Kate: I enjoyed the pad thai I had at Jino’s restaurant in Headingley recently. I really want to try the Cat’s Pyjamas, I’ve heard great things!


Where would you recommend a study abroad student to visit?

Adam: Leeds City Museum, the Royal Armouries (especially when jousting is happening), Harewood House, Temple Newsam and Ilkley Moor.

Ashleigh: The Corn Exchange, the Grand Arcade, and Leeds City Museum. If you’re here in Semester 1, I would also highly recommend going to Light Night, which gives you access to parts of Leeds that you wouldn’t normally get to see particularly at night.

Lisa: The Corn Exchange is a beautiful historic building to visit in the city centre (which now houses independent shops) and you should also visit Kirkstall Abbey, a ruined Cistercian monastery in a suburb of Leeds. You should also do an escape room while you are in Leeds – there are three different companies in Leeds!

Liz: The Yorkshire Dales for its unique limestone scenery and beautiful countryside in close proximity of Leeds.

Steph: Getting the bus to Roundhay Park or Temple Newsam. Both have large open spaces so are lovely in the summer. You can go to Roundhay Park at Tropical World or inside the House at Temple Newsam.

Ciara: If you get the chance I would strongly recommend that you go and see a play at the Grand Theatre or West Yorkshire Playhouse. If you’re here in the summer, definitely go to the Leeds West Indian Carnival – it’s such a colourful and vibrant event and not one to be missed!

Kate: I’d recommend Saltaire for a day trip to escape the hustle and bustle of the city. Jump on a train and just 15 minutes later you will arrive in the model Victorian village full of beautiful architecture. If you’re into your walking, the Meanwood Valley Trail is a 7 mile walk which will show you a different side to the city. My family home is Harrogate and it’s a lovely spa town full of shops, bars and restaurants. Be sure to check out Valley Gardens, The Stray and the famous Bettys Café Tea Rooms! Knaresborough is also only one stop away on the train and the railway viaduct across the Nidd Gorge offers an impressive view as you arrive by train. I’d recommend wandering the castle ruins and on a warm day you can hire a rowing boat.


What do you love most about Leeds?

Adam: There is something for everyone here.

Ashleigh: Its relaxed atmosphere – there is a lot to do and see but the pace is slower and the people friendlier than in many other big cities. I also love that the city centre is quite compact and so completely walkable.

Lisa: I love the fact that there are always new places to eat and drink opening up all the time – it feels like a vibrant, ever-evolving city. Also I love the outdoors so the fact that Leeds is on the doorstep of the Yorkshire Dales and not too far from the Lake District is ideal.

Liz: There’s always something on and always somewhere new to eat out!

Steph: The diversity. It feels like there is something for everyone. Location wise, I don’t feel like I live in a large city and there are really good transport links to the rest of the UK for easy travelling.

Greg: It feels friendly and lively without being crowded. There is so much to do and see. What I love most is that it is so quick and easy to get from the city to the countryside. When I was younger it was the sports facilities and the nightlife!

Ciara: Despite being the third largest city in the UK, Leeds still has a small city feel, meaning the people of Leeds are friendly and accommodating but you will never get bored here because there is always something going on.

Kate: In Leeds you can enjoy the city and the countryside all in one. On the doorstep you have Ilkley Moor, Otley Chevin and Malham Cove to name a few. All of these are a short car journey away, so even in the city, the countryside is never far away. I also love how you can walk from one side of the city centre to the other within about half an hour, which is quite rare for a large city. Along the way you pass plenty of shops, museums, bars, theatres and music venues!

Thank you for reading. Next week, we will be posting another blog post all about our favourite places to travel in the UK!



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