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What I learned studying at the University of York

Loving the spaceship and hating Marmite: what I discovered at the University of York

During my time at the University of York, I felt like part of both the campus and the city community, but the aggressive geese showed me that students don’t rule the roost here.

The city looks pretty but the campus looks…functional

The university was established in 1963, so most of the buildings look like they were built to be practical rather than pretty. However, I found a place in my heart for the strange modernist creation that is Central Hall, having spent evenings walking from the library and watching the lights illuminate ‘the spaceship’ and flash on the lake around it. It’s certainly not the York Minster, but it’s got character.

Whatever you do, DON’T look at the geese

In case you weren’t sold by the 1960s architecture, the campus has Europe’s largest plastic-bottomed lake. This has led to an abundance of wildfowl – there’s even a dedicated Twitter account and website that posts ‘daily duck delights from the University of York campus’.

There might be a lot of ducks, but supremacy lies with the geese. By my third year I was lulled into a false sense of security, taking the tales of anti-social geese to be attempts to impress a room full of pre-drinking students rather than honest accounts. Then came the day I peeped over at a gosling and my foot was attacked by an overprotective mother goose.

You can be cheesy

And I’m not talking about the free toasties the Christian Union bring to your door every Tuesday if you live on campus. One of the student bars regularly holds a ‘Marmite’ event, so called because you’ll either love it or hate it. Singing along to tunes from Hairspray wasn’t my thing, but if you do love Marmite then the chances are you’ll also be a fan of York’s Popworld and its spinning dancefloor-less sister, Flares.

…Or indie

There’s a student night every day of the week and the favourite in my first-year house was Fibbers on a Thursday, where we could chant away to all the basic indie classics in the bierkeller room. Fibbers also hosts some great live music; one of the best artists I saw there was Sam Fender when he was a support act. Stone Roses bar will also fill you with Britpop as you play a few pool games.

…Or even a techno fan

If Marmite isn’t to your taste, maybe Mansion’s the place for you. Get your trainers and sports jumper on, join your edgy friends and move unenthusiastically to techno and house music. With a licence to be open until 5.00 am every day of the week, will the distant thudding ever stop? Or will the beat ever drop?

When battle commences, remember: roses are white!

Forget the Olympics. When you're a York student the sporting event of the year is the Roses Tournament, held against our bitter rival Lancaster University and named after the 15th-century Wars of the Roses. If you're into sport, there's sure to be an event you can enter – even if you normally lack a competitive streak, you'll find it impossible to resist cheering from the sidelines while waving a 'roses are white' flag.

A year’s supply of pizzas and pubs

Legend has it that York has one pub for every day of the year so, whether you’re focused on finding a nice meal or the perfect pint, there will be a pub or bar for you. For somewhere to enjoy a drink and freshly-made pizza, I’d recommend The Hop. If you’re looking for authentic Italian pizza, though, nowhere in York beats Il Paradiso Del Cibo restaurant on Walmgate.

You’ll leave feeling like a local

Your feet will have gotten used to the cobbled streets and your arms will be hardened to the nippy northern wind. Acting as tour guide to family or friends, you’ll probably have learned the name of every shop in The Shambles – the medieval street said to have been the inspiration for Diagon Alley in Harry Potter.

…But you won’t have a northern accent

The university probably has an equal number of students from the south of the country as from the north, not to mention the international students. So, unless you had a northern accent when you started, you won’t have it by the time you leave. Don’t be the student from London who started ‘slipping into a northern accent’ at the end of freshers’ week.

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