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Having lived my whole life in Sicily, I had only met a handful of people who were into rock music before I moved to Chester for my degree. Back home, the absence of rock on mainstream radio stations and the lack of places to perform in made it difficult for a local music scene to flourish. These were some of the main reasons that had me excited to be leaving Italy and moving to England, where I knew for a fact that the kind of music that so inspired me was an intrinsic part of the culture.

It became apparent that I was right from the get-go, as during the Freshers’ Fair I discovered that Chester Students' Union had a Rock society! This turned out to be everything I wanted it to be: a weekly meet-up with like-minded students where you can share your views on your favourite songs and artists over a few drinks.

This, however, was only the beginning of my musical journey, as a few months down the line I discovered the open mic nights going on all around Chester, which slowly became a regular feature of my social routine. Telford’s Warehouse every Sunday, Alexander’s every Tuesday, the University’s own Students' Union once a month, just to name a few of the venues, which means the city has virtually every day of the week covered! I’m still amazed to this day at just how many opportunities to perform or watch live music there are in a city as small as Chester. Performers of all ages and skill-sets can sign up to take part and there is the added bonus that the pubs offer a free drink to anyone who gets up on stage to perform, whether it’s to play, sing or tell a few jokes. In this sort of scenario, it is almost inevitable to meet someone who is on the same wavelength as you from a musical perspective. This may well lead to collaborations, some of which improvised, which in my experience have been some of the most memorable moments of my three years in Chester.

Chester isn't great just because of its open mic nights. Many pubs, including the ones I have already mentioned, set an evening aside each week to allow up-and-coming bands to perform in front of a live audience. A couple of times a year this takes place even in a festival-like setting! Through these events I’ve got to know many great musicians on a personal level, allowing me to feel part of the symbiotic network which is Chester’s music scene.

Less than a few hours away by train, Manchester, Liverpool and Birmingham do an amazing job at quenching your thirst for live music, when you feel like seeing what else is on offer. Some of the best shows I’ve been to have been in the smallest of venues, but just as enjoyable as the arena-scale concerts, and far cheaper.

As I move towards the end of my studies here, I realise that it’s thanks to all these experiences that I’ve felt more connected to my university, have improved my playing and singing, and broadened my tastes in music. Any student who’s passionate about music and still considering whether Chester could be the right choice for them, should look no further, in my opinion!

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