Moving cities is not always easy and I would be lying if I said that it was easy for me. As an international student, I did not only move from one city to another but from one country to another. I come from Berlin and have lived there all my life. Berlin is a large city with about 3.7 million inhabitants. York with a population of roughly 200,000 people was thus a big change for me.
Moving from a big to a small city
Many people who grew up in big cities, including myself, wonder what there actually is that you can do in a small city. You may be scared that you will not have as many opportunities.
However, that really is not the case. All you need to do is shift your point of view slightly and you realise that there are so many opportunities that you never thought about before. Suddenly, everything is in reach and easy to access. For instance, East Campus, at the outskirts of York, and the city centre are only a 20-25 minutes cycle apart. In comparison, in Berlin, it would take me more than an hour to cycle from its outskirts to the city centre and I would be absolutely exhausted by the time I got there. In York, however, you are able to access everything without having to put in a lot of effort.
A historic and picturesque city
Despite its size, York is viewed as a nice tourist attraction by many people and for good reason. York provides fantastic scenery with its medieval walls and buildings. For me, it is not even surprising anymore to see a building from the 15th century, which you would doubt to exist in the heart of the city in places like Berlin. Exploring its historic background and influence over the last few centuries then passing by the same buildings the next day on a walk through the city centre is a unique experience. It is also what makes walks more entertaining. You think you have seen everything and the next time you go on a walk, you see something new again, even if it is just a new stand in the Shambles Market.
Additionally, the walls that surround the city centre provide you with a lovely view over the city. Everything is rather flat, making cycling, walking, and exploring more enjoyable.
Friendly people that make you feel at home
Furthermore, everyone I have met in my two years of studying at York has been really friendly and supportive. There has not been a day at which I went into the city and did not hear someone singing on the market square with people watching and listening from a distance. It is an atmosphere that you simply cannot have in larger cities. It is exactly that kind of atmosphere that makes you feel welcome. It’s as if you are part of a community, on and off campus.
However, it is not only the small roads, old buildings, and green space that makes York feel comfortable to live in. It is also the fact that there are students around everywhere. With two universities, the University of York and York St John University, you will meet fellow students from all sorts of places. This makes it more of a home and enjoyable to live and study in as a student. This is something that could never be the case for larger cities like Berlin.
One of the best decisions I ever made
I, personally, believe that it is not only the university at which you study that counts but also the city and whether or not you feel at home in it. For me, despite it having been a large switch between cities, York has been the right choice. It is comfortable to live in, has a lovely city centre, supermarkets that are easy to reach, and scenery like no other city.
Moving to York was one of the best decisions I ever made. I have not yet seen a city more beautiful and enjoyable than York. Despite all the changes that come with moving and worries that you have along the way, once you arrive, the city will become a part of you and you will not want to leave it again or at least I do not want to.