A year abroad in Hull
One thing they always tell you when you go to live in the UK: national health care is horrible so don’t get ill.
When I arrived in Hull, the town in North Yorkshire that would be my university hometown for the forthcoming year, my plan was to stay out of trouble. Unfortunately, I did get myself landed into hospital in the first week I was on campus. A stomach bug caused me to feel so under the weather that my new flatmate thought it smart to call an ambulance. This resulted in two sleepless nights in hospital, and a good story to tell the other freshers on Monday. Because of my hospital visit I completely missed the international-student welcome week, which seemed a big deal at the time, but which turned out to be only mildly important. In the end everything worked out, the student office helped me sort out my courses and I was (finally) officially enrolled in the university. And then, a week later, all the British students arrived and the whole town turned into one big late-night beer-fest.
The university in Hull works very differently from the RUG. For most courses I only have classes once every two weeks. This gives me a lot of free time, which should be used for reading, but is mainly used up by the societies here. The universities in the UK offer societies for literally everything; in Hull there’s a Harry Potter society (quidditch practice every Thursday), an ale tasting society, a musical society, a video game society and of course a Doctor Who society. Even though a lot of them are based around going to the pub and just drinking and hanging out, it’s good fun once you found a group of people who share your interest. There’s also many more sports-societies than I’m used to in the Netherlands (but this may be because they are very noticeable here: every Wednesday is sports soc day, and all the athletes, footballers and lacrosse players just hang out in the university bar and get incredibly pissed).
The city of Hull itself is great; I couldn’t have found a better city to live on my own for the first time in my life. To be fair, I live in Cottingham just outside of Hull (a 15-minute-drive away), but the student complex is very cosy, even if there’s 950 students living here. Compared to other university cities (and so far I’ve only visited Manchester and York during my stay here) Hull is quite a bit smaller and dare I say more rural. It’s right next to the river Humber and very close to the sea, which makes me feel far less homesick, coming from a small harbour town myself. I was expecting to dislike the Yorkshire area and especially the local accent (because I’m a major accent freak!) but I got used to it rather quick and the whole place is just very welcoming and friendly.
I would absolutely recommend anyone considering a (half-)year abroad to come to Hull, because it is indeed very, very student-friendly, and far less intimidating than the big cities sometimes are. And to top it all off: in the city centre, directly opposite the train station is a real Dutch pancake house where they also sell pindakaas, hagelslag and fristy. If that doesn’t make you feel at home, I don’t know what does!