Right so you know how great the English Department at York is by now; you’ve probably been on a visit day and all the statistics will have been tattooed onto your brain. “But Lewis,” I hear you cry, “all the other English departments sound good too!”, “I, as a discerning and incredibly good-looking potential student, wouldn’t have applied to the other universities if they didn’t offer great courses!” Well, I’d better tell you about the city you’ll be living in then.
York is lovely. That is the most important thing to know. It is safe, very pretty, and well stocked with shops to meet all your English student cable-knit needs. The city is very old, and used to be the second city of England, so despite its relatively small size, York has some impressive buildings. The railway station is extraordinary, with the huge vaulted ceiling and yellow brickwork making it ideal for the Harry Potter scenes filmed there. It is also a main hub in the North, so travel to and from the city is very easy, and buses from the station to campus run every 6 minutes at peak times.
“But Lewis,” you continue to cry even though we’re standing quite close and you don’t need to shout, “I don’t care about the train station – that’s for nerds and squares! Tell me about the nightlife.” Goodness very demanding, aren’t you? But fine. York has four main clubs, and while none of them are on the scale of the super-clubs with four dance floors and enough bars to build a jail, they are all a good size. The student union has deals with each club for a certain night of the week, so if you go out on a Thursday you can be pretty sure everyone you know will be in Fibbers with you, which always makes for a good night. When it comes to bars and pubs, York is spoilt for choice. I have heard that there are so many pubs in York you could go to a different one every night and not have to repeat for a year. For the record I don’t recommend going to a pub every night – one night off a week should be fine. We also have ‘Johnny Depp’s favourite bar’, Evil Eye. I don’t know how it got the reputation as his favourite, but it does, and it does do amazing cocktails.
York is a campus university, but unlike many campuses, it has not been forced out into the countryside like a leper colony. You can walk right to the centre of town from campus within half an hour, which makes a huge difference both for nights out and shopping. As I mentioned in a previous blog, I tend to buy my books second hand, so I was delighted with the number of charity and bookshops in the city. Many a lovely afternoon has been spent going from one to the next clutching a list of literature, and ending up buying loads I didn’t need because it was just too good a deal. With streets like The Shambles, York prides itself on its independent shops, and so I am always stumbling across some new little shop tucked away in the winding alleys. There are also lots of tourist attractions, which as a student you may not find the time to go to, but your family will certainly appreciate them if and when they come to see you. There’s the York Minster (which your student card will get you in to for free), one of the most awe-inspiring buildings I have ever seen, and its high towers make it a great geographic reference point when you are a bit lost. The Jorvik Viking Centre gives an interactive tour of the city’s Scandinavian history, and the Chocolate Story focuses on the Terry’s and Rowntree’s factories which began in the city. When the wind blows in the right direction the whole city smells of chocolate, and if that isn’t a reason to come here I don’t know what is.
Hopefully that gives you a bit more of an idea about the place you’ll be living, but if there’s anything else you want to know don’t hesitate to ask in the comments below!