“You’re so lucky! You get to go to London!”
“Bye Jasmine, have fun in London.”
“How are you enjoying London?”
I heard all these sentences from well-meaning friends back home whenever I said I was studying abroad in England. I usually corrected them and said I’m actually studying in Leeds, another English city that starts with an L, which is located two hours north of the UK’s cultural and political capital. Some people accepted this; others wondered why a Southern California girl would voluntarily move to Northern England for five months. If you’re wondering the same thing, here are the initial reasons why I chose Leeds, which are also some of the same reasons why I’ve enjoyed my time here so much:
- Cool module (class) choices
The online application for Leeds listed twenty empty slots for potential module choices, and I mistakenly chose twenty potential modules because I thought I was supposed to fill each slot. To be fair, I really wanted to take modules like “The Dynamic Environment of Mallorca,” which involved a class trip to the island of Mallorca, or “Travel and Journalistic Writing,” which would have taught me how to document my travels across the UK and continental Europe. I didn’t enrol in either module, but I did take “Sustainable Consumption,” which studied how people could alter their daily consumption patterns to have less negative environmental consequences. Several of my friends took “Traditional Alcoholic Beverages,” which involved brewing their own beer and having an end-of-term beer tasting fair.
- Great location
As mentioned earlier, Leeds is only a two hour train ride from London. Just twenty minutes east is York, a medieval city famous for its cathedral and city walls. Edinburgh, Liverpool, and Manchester are easily accessible by train. There’s even a train that goes to Manchester airport, which is convenient for flying to continental Europe. I still remember making the questionably wise decision to ride a 3 AM train from Leeds to Manchester airport so I could catch a 7 AM flight to Brussels. I’ve also gone on multiple hiking trips to the Yorkshire Dales and the Lake District.
- Exciting city
Leeds might not be a very touristy city, but that doesn’t mean it’s boring. In addition to an endless amount of restaurants, shops, and nightclubs, Leeds offers other activities to keep people entertained. Some of my best nights out include playing an escape room game for my friend’s birthday, and going to a city fair that sold unlimited ride tickets for just £6. Leeds University Union also hosts Fruity, a weekly club night in the student union building. Some people complain about Fruity being too crowded, but my friends and I have fun whenever we go.
As my time at Leeds nears its end, I know I made the right university choice for my semester abroad. If you’re considering studying abroad in the UK, you can’t go wrong with Leeds.
by Jasmine Mah – University of California at Davis – USA