As UK gears up to deal with the aftermath of Brexit, British Universities too are going through a change of unprecedented scale. They are faced with the prospect of having to explain the number of seats they offer to foreign students. Times are tough and I have been receiving regular updates from my Alma Mater, Newcastle University, about how they are planning to keep going with the same guiding principles for as long as they can.
These are tumultuous times throughout the world, and one can just wait and watch the extent of the fallout. Anyways, these emails from the university and updates from my UK friends have evoked nostalgia. I remember I joined the University at around this time in 2010. Not only did the University capture my fancy, the town of Newcastle too became very dear to me. The warm and welcoming Geordies, their accents, the fact that we (a group of foreigners from various countries in the world) attracted so much curiosity - people bought drinks for us, shared our table to chat with us. We never really felt like outsiders. The fact that all this might be changing soon is very disappointing. And that makes this the perfect time to relive some of my experiences of Newcastle.
Newcastle University always feels like home and I still frequently write to some of my professors. It's various schools were housed in various buildings of various types of Architecture. From the 19th century Armstrong building to the fairly modern Robinson Library (Now Phillip Robinson) building, a student can spend hours and hours trying to understand the history behind each of these buildings. It is an intriguing space. You do not feel like leaving it once you are addicted to its charm.
The city of Newcastle is famoust as the Students' City. Wherever you go at whatever time, night or day, you will find youngsters hanging out, having fun. Theme parties were the craze when I was there and I once walked into a group that included every superhero in the world. They were happy to pose with us too.
The City sits on the bank of the river Tyne, across which is the city of Gateshead. Several interesting bridges connect the two cities. The newest of the these bridges is the Gateshead Millennium Bridge that was inaugurated in the year 2001 and dedicated to Queen Elizabeth. What is interesting about this bridge is the way it tilts to let ships pass. At night it is lit up by multicolored lights and looks simply spectacular. I once wrote a dedicated post about the bridges across Newcastle. Click here to read it.
The City's many pubs and bars serve some interesting concoctions. Our favorite was one called Screaming Orgasm, (an evil mixture of vodka, Irish cream (Bailey's), and coffee liqueur). It was deadly. I remember The Charles Grey often used to have great offers on this particular cocktail. We took good advantage of those.
The City has a beautiful park called the Leazes Park. Though it was a longer route to the University, I preferred to take that. On the way I watched swans, ducks, ducklings, and cormorants. The park was almost magical. Beautiful flowers would pop out of the earth, various types of birds would hold a conference chirping wildly at each other. There was always a debate going on in there. I would often stop there for a few minutes and end up getting late for my classes.
The house I stayed in was in Fenham, one of the not-so-nice but inexpensive areas of Newcastle. It was here that I experienced my first snow. I remember going crazy when the first flake fell on my skylight. I remember the sky would light up eerily just before snowfall. I remember the snowman we made, that ended up becoming a landmark for everyone till it did not melt away.
On the whole, it was an interesting place - the City of Newcastle. I hope the University manages to keep its doors open to foreign students. The place simply would not be the same without the diversity. This time-turner was straight from my heart. I miss that one year that made me a lot more independent that I was. That was the year that taught me the most.