I moved out to a city-based university last sept. My accommodation was placed in the heart of Bristol where all I was required to do was step outside and the city was beneath my feet.
I loved it.
I loved everything from the traffic that found itself outside my window, specifically during rush hour on a Friday night, to the late night wanderers screaming at each other after midnight. It was part of the city vibe and for that I loved it. It became background noise and eventually by the end of my 10 month stay during the university year, I hardly noticed it until family or friends stayed over and asked me how I slept with all the noise. I got used to it.
It became a comfort. When I first moved in, the noise of the city was all I had to take me away from the silence (and at first, accompanying isolation) of the room. A distraction of some sort. It filled the emptiness of the flat as I was one of the first people to move in.
The city is generally vibrant and busy, loud and eventful. It’s a happy city and I never felt like an outsider when I moved; which is great.
As pleasant as the vibrant city is, it’s difficult not the notice the number of homeless individuals sleeping on the streets. There’s an alarming amount. I found that the more I took a wander around the city, the more I saw them. It’s upsetting to see, and that too so many. There was one, and then two. As I turned corners and cut edges the few I saw became 5 maybe 6 in the space of 60ish minutes. It’s hard to see and even harder to just walk away.
There were several moments during my stay in the city where I helped people out when I could, from buying them food to giving them a simple smile of acknowledgement on the streets. It may not be much but to them, I assumed it would mean something. To feel less invisible. More recognised and seen. Most importantly – to feel seen.
What I undoubtedly love is how everything’s outside my doorstep. If I need to buy something from the shopping centre, I don’t have to endure a 20 bus ride, but simply walk around the corner and there I am.
Even for the most mundane (student) situations. Like running out of milk at 7 am (not that I ever got up that early ha) was easily fixed with a pyjama run to the nearest convenience store. Or the crisis of wanting chocolate at quarter to 12 at night. And I kid you not, there was a store next door – a few seconds away!
Despite the expense, after being located in the city for over a year I have to say I prefer it. You feel more present and involved. I can’t wait to go back for my second year!