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Exploring Chester
Exploring the City of Chester
Before moving to Chester, I had spent my whole life living in a town. A small seaside town to be exact, on the south coast of Devon, where everyone seemed to know everyone. I was 19 years old when I decided to go to university and almost immediately, the first thing that began to play on my mind was the idea of moving to a city. Obviously, throughout the UK, we have a multitude of cities - all shapes and sizes - so like most people, I visited open days and attended online events to get a feel for different universities. It became apparent very quickly that I was not going to feel comfortable in a big city such as Manchester or Leeds… but then I found Chester.

It was one of my college tutors who had originally suggested considering the University of Chester. I did some digging online and booked myself onto an open day to look around the campus and meet some of my prospective lecturers. I distinctly remember making the decision, there and then, that this would be my place of study. Everyone seemed so welcoming and there was an immediate sense of comfort whilst walking around the University. The city itself had a homely feel, not too big but not too small, everything seemed to be so accessible. All the accommodation surrounded the campus that I would be studying on. The city centre and supermarkets were no more than a 15 minute walk away. What more could you want?

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Exploring the City of Chester
Exploring the City of Chester

Despite this, I still knew that moving to university and a city, even Chester, was going to be a big change for me - I had never lived away from home. So, although I was extremely excited for this next chapter, ‘terrified’ is also another word I would use to describe my feelings at the time.

As I sit and write this, I have just come to the end of my degree, which I cannot believe. Reflecting on how I felt before coming to university, it’s a completely understandable emotion. Nobody really knows what to expect. Though if it’s any comfort to anyone, looking back, the transition of going from a comfortable home life with my family to a completely new city was, dare I say, easy?

I remember both the day I arrived at my first student house and my first day of university, meeting my course mates, as if it was yesterday. Obviously, I was a bag of nerves but I knew, as I think we all do, that the first thing to help with getting yourself settled into a new place is to make friends. I remember my now infamous first words to everyone were “are you as nervous as I am?”, followed by a laugh, trying to sound ever so slightly confident. Whether it worked, I’m unsure, but it did seem to lead to conversation. Three years on and I’m now surrounded by some of the best people I’ve known, some of whom I met on those first few days. It’s easy saying “don’t be afraid to put yourself out there”, but a key thing to remember is that everyone is in the same boat. You could be the friendly face someone needs to ease those first day nerves. 

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Helping out in Grosvenor Park, a local green space
Helping out in Grosvenor Park, a local green space

Probably the most difficult thing for me to adjust to was the living situation. A shock to the system was having to buy food, cook, clean and repeat, EVERY DAY. This definitely took a bit of getting used to but I do have some top tips. Firstly, plan your food shops. Then get on top of meal prepping and bulk cooking. You’ll be thankful for those extra meals if you become under the weather or lose motivation after a long day. Finally, have someone who can cook on speed dial or identify the most chef-like one of the household – this will come in handy.

Something I also found to be of big help when adjusting was getting myself involved. The University offers a variety of opportunities to engage with like-minded people – through sports, social activities and societies, and even volunteering. By getting stuck into extracurricular activities, I began to grow my support network which made my transition into living a student's life, a breeze. It helped push me out of my comfort zone and try new things that I would never have thought about. If you had told me three years ago that I would now be running my own volunteering conservation group, I would have laughed… but here I am. (Shameless plug, go follow @wellywednesday_uoc on Instagram!)

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Volunteering and leading Welly Wednesdays, a student led volunteering conservation group
Volunteering and leading Welly Wednesdays, a student led volunteering conservation group

As for moving to the city, I solemnly believe that Chester is one of the best places to adjust to city life. There’s an abundance of amazing areas to be explored without the intimidating and overwhelming feeling of getting lost. Whether that be green spaces, pubs and bars, or social activity hubs like the cinema or shopping centres – Chester has it all, meaning it has something for everyone! I discovered there were similarities between my home town and Chester, including some of my favourite things, like cute coffee shops and quieter parks where I could meet the locals (and their dogs of course!). This made Chester feel even more homely and comfortable to me. So much so, that I now consider Chester my home away from home.

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Breakfast at my favourite café, The Flower Cup
Breakfast at my favourite café, The Flower Cup

Finally, I just want to add my biggest recommendation to anyone going to university, whether that be Chester or elsewhere, just have fun. It’s easy to get caught up in the planning and the worrying over what it will be like. However, once you’re settled, just let all of that go. The great thing about university is that you’re in charge of your time. Work hard towards your degree because that’s ultimately why you’re here, but don’t forget to live and celebrate. Some of my best memories have been made through last minute decisions and unscheduled events with my friends.

Above all else, just remember to make the most of all the opportunities available to you as a student. These years won’t last forever but the memories sure will!

If you're interested in studying at the University of Chester, take a look at our full course list on our website. We also have our friendly student ambassadors available online for you to chat to at any time, so you can get all of your questions answered.

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