Ashlynne: Things To Do Around Leeds

So a couple of days I officially hit two months of living in Leeds. So I thought this would be a good time to talk about some things to do in Leeds and also in the Yorkshire region in general. The Yorkshire region is general is a super gorgeous part of the UK that I’d definitely recommend visiting, the cities here are pretty diverse but there is a tonne of green space and lovely walks to do in this region that I really enjoy (especially when I’m missing home!).

So Leeds where I’m currently living isn’t a very touristy city, but despite this it is an incredibly beautiful city with lots of things to do! Throughout my couple of months here I have spent a lot of time exploring the city and so here are my top recommendations of things to do in Leeds.

Head into one of the historic buildings (or just stand outside and enjoy the architecture) – Leeds has quite a few old buildings that have recently been converted into museums, art galleries and libraries. If going inside isn’t really your thing though spend half an hour wandering through the centre of town and just enjoy all the architecture of the buildings.

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Have a coffee and enjoy the view (or sunshine) – so despite the United Kingdom’s reputation for having terrible coffee, Leeds has quite a few of independent cafes which actually sell very coffee (they don’t however do Christmas themed coffee sadly, I still need to go to Starbucks for that). My friends and I often head down to a café to talk, enjoy the view and often sit out in the sunshine!

Shopping – Leeds is a fairly new and industrial city, and so a couple of years ago they built a massive shopping mall called Trinity. This place has absolutely everything from cafes to restaurants to designer stores to primark. It’s a great way to spend a day.

Kirkstall Abbey – Kirkstall Abbey is an old ruined abbey that lies just outside the city centre of Leeds, it’s a super nice place to go on a picnic for lunch and the old ruins of the abbey are incredible!

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Harewood house – this is one of the many old estate houses that exist in England, after visiting a few I think it’s one of the nicer ones! It’s about a half an hour bus ride from Leeds and its definitely worthy of a day trip. The house itself is nice and very grand, however my favourite part was the outside area that includes a small farm and many Instagram worthy places to take photos.

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Thanks for reading!

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Ashlynne: First Impressions of the University of Leeds

Hello! Since this is my first blog I’d figured I should introduce myself. My name is Ashlynne, I’m a third year BA/BCom student who is studying in Leeds for the semester. I have lived in Auckland my entire life so moving out of home to the literal other side of the world was an exciting but scary step for me!

Preparing for Leeds

The best piece of advice I can give about going on an exchange, regardless of where you are going, is to start early. I spent hours going through different universities, and hours trying to finalise my papers for Leeds, and then hours packing and preparing for life away from home. So make sure you start early so that you have plenty of time, and realise that no matter what you’re probably going to forget something anyway!

Leeds

My first few days in Leeds were some of the weirdest days that I’ve had so far. I was hit with the very sudden realisation that I was all the way in England completely alone in a city where I knew absolutely no one which was pretty terrifying. The best way I found to deal with this was to get out and adventure around town! Leeds is a pretty big city with 800,000 people so there’s always something to do here and because it’s such a student based city there are so many events for students which are great places to meet new people!

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This is just one of the many amazing places I found in Leeds while exploring the first few days

University of Leeds

One of the biggest differences I’ve noticed during my time in Leeds is the differences between universities. Despite the fact that Leeds and Auckland are fairly close together in international rankings there are so many differences between the two. Back in Auckland I do 5 papers a semester and so had about 25 hours of classes a week, in Leeds I’m doing the equivalent of 4 papers but have 7 hours of class a week. The focus here is on more individual learning, so we have to do a tonne of readings, rather than on teaching.

Another difference between the two universities is the classes. I do fairly popular papers back at Auckland and so I’m used to classes with 200 people at least. Here in Leeds my biggest class has just under a hundred people and my smallest class has 30 which is so bizarre to me! Also here classes are compulsory so during seminars and some lectures a roll is passed around that we all have to sign, and if you have too many missed classes you have to have a meeting with your faculty – which seems so weird to me because I haven’t filled out a roll since I left high school three years ago.

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This is a photo of the business school where I have most of my classes! The university itself is made of so many old buildings I absolutely love it!

Culture Shock

Something that I think is really important to talk about is the cultural differences between NZ and the UK. The UK is a super attractive place to do an exchange because although it’s in Europe the culture is perceived as quite similar to NZ, despite this there are quite a few differences between the two. The one I find quite difficult is smoking, smoking is a lot more culturally acceptable here than it is in NZ and so you have to get used to the smell of smoke in the air quite a lot. Another big one for me is homelessness. Homelessness and beggars here are a lot more prominent than in New Zealand, its still taking me time to get used to this one, and here people often come into bars and pubs and will come up to your table and ask you for money which I still can’t really believe.

Travel

So when culture shock gets the best of you (which at some point it definitely will) my best recommendation is get out of the city and travel. I found the university here runs a lot of trips to places around Yorkshire but I’ve done some trips by myself too. In the bit over a month I’ve been in the UK I’ve managed to see some of Southern England, Wales, York, the East Coast, and explore lots around Yorkshire too.

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At Kirkstall Abbey; one of the (many) very old things around Leeds
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Harewood house gardens. Which is the most visited manor house in Yorkshire
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Snowdonia in Wales. It was absolutely incredible!

If you have any questions about Leeds or studying in the UK in general feel free to email me ajur709@aucklanduni.ac.nz or find me on Instagram @ashlynne.jury

Until next time,

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