With a massive 65,000 students at five different universities choosing to study here, it’s safe to say that Birmingham is a student friendly city. However, whether you’re thinking of going to the University of Birmingham, Birmingham City University, Aston University or one of Brum’s many other higher education institutions, there are some essential things you need to know about the UK’s second city before you move there.
You’ll develop a strong opinion in North-South debates
You’re in the Midlands now, at a university full of people from all over the UK, with varying definitions of what constitutes ‘north’ and ‘south’. Coming from Yorkshire myself, I am pretty confident that the Midlands are not northern (the clue is in the name), but Londoners seem to have different ideas. Basically, this will be a key part of freshers’ discussions, and you will develop a strong opinion on the topic, whether you like it or not.
You’ll learn that commuter trains cannot be trusted
So I’m not pinning this on any particular train company, but suffice to say, the ticket situation at the student-suburb Selly Oak station (where you can end up queuing for hours on weekends due to cancellations and because you can’t print out them in advance), leaves a lot to be desired. Being honest, you will probably end up relying on Uber more than you’d like to. But thankfully, when the trains are running on time, they are pretty affordable.
You’ll grow to enjoy the Brummie accent
In my experience, BCU and Aston tend to have more local students than UoB, but you will hear the much-mocked and imitated accent a great deal whichever uni you’re at. After living and studying in Birmingham for three years, I have to say I now really like the accent whenever I hear someone with it, and you will too. You’ll soon find yourself saying ‘bab’ with the best of them!
You’ll learn to be city-savvy
Birmingham is pretty massive, and like any big city, you need to be careful with your valuables. It sounds really obvious, but students can be a bit daft and leave doors unlocked while they’re at uni, and their laptops unattended in the library. Although Brum has a bit of a reputation (an unfair one if you ask me), it’s no dodgier than any other big city, so just have your head screwed on. Given how accident-prone freshers’ week often is, it might be worth insuring your MacBook just in case!
You’ll probably fall in love with Birmingham
If you explore the city, you will find your own personal spots which you’ll be desperate to show outsiders. Some personal highlights are the quirky independent shops at the Custard Factory in Digbeth, the amazing rooftop garden at the new library (which, admittedly, looks a bit like a cake in its design), and the view of the canal at Brindley Place when the sun sets.
When you arrive, you’ll notice that Birmingham city centre is being developed a great deal at the moment – just look how posh Birmingham New Street is now! – But you can also escape city life with a trip out to nearby Lickey Hills or Sutton Park.
Basically, there is so much to do and see in Birmingham, that you’re bound to have an amazing time, and there’s no way you’ll regret choosing it as your university city.
By Georgia Tindale