Manchester Off-campus living Starting Uni Student-made

Transitions: Moving from the Yorkshire country to Manchester City for university

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For me, the biggest shock about moving back to university to study for my Master’s was moving from a life growing up in the Yorkshire countryside to a life living in the second biggest city in the UK.

I didn’t expect this, and thought I’d adjust just fine. I was excited, even, to live in a city and get out of the country. I had a very idealised view of everything and, whilst living in Manchester is great, it definitely wasn’t what I expected it to be.

Now, I’ve adjusted just fine, and I love my life in the city, but let’s reflect on what the actual reality of what city living is like – the good, the bad, and the ugly.

The Noise!

The first thing: Noise! I noticed this as soon as I moved in. I thought it was just day-time noise, but on my first night, wrapped up in bed, I couldn’t fall asleep because it was so loud from what I was used to. Living in the countryside, I fall asleep to dead silence, but now I was trying to sleep amongst car engines, ambulance sirens, traffic horns, music, drunk shouting and late-night conversations. When I finally did sleep, morning was another thing. I was used to waking up to birdsong and the odd car, but I woke up to the rush-hour traffic, shops opening and the streets full of people. I got used to it, though. Now, I find it peaceful to go to sleep to the hum of the city – it’s like white noise – and the late-night arguments and drunk shouting outside my window is a daily entertainment. I actually watch the drama unfold from my window ledge with a cup of tea in hand.

Finding the greenery

Another thing I noticed quite quickly was greenery. My green world suddenly turned grey. Back at home, I was surrounded by trees, woods, wildflowers, meadows, farming fields. Now, it was pavements, buildings, lampposts and shop shutters. This was quite hard at first and I was struggling without the green spaces. However, the longer I lived here, I figured out that in Manchester, the greenery is there: you just have to find it. In the country, nature and wildlife are everywhere, you don’t have to look for it. It’s different in an urban city. There are some truly beautiful nature spots, but they are a little more hidden. Now, I take a different route to work each morning by the river and through the woods where there is currently a nest of goslings growing up.

Culture, diversity… and acceptance

Perhaps one of my favourite things about living in a city is the level of culture and acceptance. When you live in a small town, the people can tend to be a little narrow-minded and have one-sided views of everything. Of course this isn’t true for everywhere, but it was where I grew up. In a multi-cultural city, there is a higher intersperse of different cultural backgrounds, so you get the opportunity to be exposed to all different kinds of life. Moving to the city also gave me a higher level of freedom and representation. As an LGBTQ+ person, I felt a lot safer and had a much larger community around me. People are a lot more accepting here.

Owing to that, the city is a much better place for creativity and the arts. Art and creative spaces were limited where I grew up, suffering under little funding and little public interest. However, in Manchester, creativity is ripe. The walls are lined with graffiti and art, there are dance and singing performances in the centre, there are galleries, exhibitions, theatres, museums, art shops. There are constant events and opportunities to get your work out there, and you get to meet so many more creative people. It’s a great place if you’re a creative person, as there is so much inspiration around you.

Taking care of yourself

However, on the flip side to a much more vibrant environment, there is also a lot more crime in cities. In quieter neighbourhoods, nothing really happens. You feel safer to leave doors unlocked and when walking around, don’t worry about who’s behind you. In Manchester, however, you have to adjust to a life being more vigilant. Theft, robberies, and even assaults are more frequent and you have to learn new safety measures. It’s a lot different from country living.

Job and job opportunities

Another thing that is a big difference is job opportunities. Beforehand, job opportunities were few and far between, especially part-time jobs, with the odd coffee shop job here and the odd waitressing job there. When moving to a city I found there were a lot more job opportunities. There was also much more range, with different jobs available in completely different sectors, there was a lot more to choose from. However, this also meant that there was a lot more competition. With such a higher population, it’s a lot harder for your application to stand out and you will end up receiving a lot of rejection letters. However, I stuck at it and tried hard, and now I work two jobs that I love: one here as a content creator and another working in an art shop. I’ve had many jobs since living here, and I have learnt so many new skills and trades I never thought I would have.

Overall, city living is a lot different from what I expected. It has its good parts, and its bad parts, just like everywhere you choose to live. You learn to love some parts, hate others, and find new experiences you never thought you’d encounter.

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