Nothing can prepare you for the move from a small village to a big city for the first time. Except, perhaps, this article...
From the moment your parents unload your (one too many) suitcases and boxes out of the car and into your first room in halls, the rollercoaster ride of student life begins. Starting university can be a challenge, particularly if you’re in a completely new environment, miles away from home.
Many universities, like Birmingham City University, are located in the centre of the UK’s biggest cities. But what if your whole life up until this point has been centred around a small, rural area with all your friends and family just down the road? The comfort, security and sense of belonging that comes with such a place is something that plenty of students have to leave behind. But the transition to a big city doesn’t have to be difficult - there are so many exciting things to look forward to. So we’ve put together a helpful guide for if you’re feeling a bit overwhelmed with the transition into city life!
Make the most of the new opportunities open to you
City life is modern with lots of things going on every day and diverse, interesting people. Birmingham in particular has millions of people from all walks of life, race and religions. This may seem daunting at first but use this to your advantage. Meeting people from all walks of life opens you up to learn so much about the world and others cultures and experiences.
While there may have been one bus an hour in your town (ok we may be exaggerating but the struggle is real), unless you have a car, transport is difficult in villages. Cities may be big but they make up for it with so many quick, easy and cheap modes of transport such as metros, buses and trains. Most students can get where they need to be by train or bus in a big city. You may not need to splash the cash on a car and insurance, and an airport is nearby if you want to travel home for breaks and holidays.
Top Tip Get yourself a 16 to 25 rail card for third off your train travel.
One of the best advantages of city living is the access to culture. If you like cultural activities, cities always have plenty going on. Birmingham alone has many amazing theatres, cinemas, museums, art galleries, dances, talks and festivals. These don't have to be expensive either; many places offer low-cost tickets and discounts. There really is something for everyone.
Top Tip Cities also often have free festivals throughout the year. So make sure to check local listings online for upcoming activities.
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Homesick? You’re not alone
Homesickness can be common for some new students. Even if you’re enjoying your new city, it’s only natural that you will also be missing the familiarity of home. The important thing to remember is that you are definitely not alone in feeling this way, with many other students experiencing it too. Getting out and enjoying your new city and sharing these new experiences is likely to help everybody. Joining societies and getting involved in extra-curricular activities can help. Cities are a great place to meet new and like-minded people. In Birmingham for example, you can find a social gathering pretty much going on every weekend, where you'll connect with others while doing what you love!
Top Tip There are also plenty of ways you can keep in touch with family back home and involve them in your new adventure. You could take your parents on a Skype tour of your new room, or set up an Instagram account to document your new city life.
Jobs at your fingertips
Students in a big city typically have access to more internships, networking opportunities and other career-boosting experiences. Imagine having an internship at a top company in your field on your CV before you even graduate, this is all a reality for students in the city. Birmingham for example is home to many top businesses in the UK and we have excellent industry links.
Top Tip use the career services in the university and get yourself a part time job or an internship over Summer and boost your CV.
There’s a lot to do
Like, a lot more. There’s a really good variety of stores you can shop in - The Bullring, The Mail Box, Grand Central and The Fort just to name a few. There are restaurants, gyms and bars that fit everyone and anyone’s tastes. Cities provide you with so many more options than the small town so take advantage of this. Don’t fall into the all too common mistake of only exploring what’s within the mile radius of your halls. Student life can be busy—don’t let that be an excuse for not seeking new experiences.