OPINION: Welcome to Norwich! Simply the finest city for student life
- Credit: UEA
This weekend, Norwich will become the new home for thousands of young people.
Family cars groaning with duvets, saucepans, one-of-everything student starter crockery sets and fairy lights, will drop off freshers in the city for the start of the new university year.
Each and every one has chosen Norwich as the place they will spend what is likely to be the best three or four years of their lives. They will arrive full of hope and anticipation to make the most of what Norwich delivers.
They will come from Cornwall, Leeds, London, Belfast, Birmingham, California, Croatia, New York, Singapore, China, Malaysia – anywhere and everywhere from the UK and overseas – to the world-class University of East Anglia and Norwich University of the Arts.
All will be seeing Norwich and Norfolk for the first time. For a lot of them, this weekend will be the start of a lifetime in the city they fall in love with and never leave.
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It has this habit. People get hooked with Norwich and Norfolk and find it impossible to move away.
Last weekend, a WhatsApp message from an old university friend nudged me to look at our fine city through fresh eyes, just like all these shiny young people arriving for the first time.
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When you walk the same streets for half a century what others find stunning can be wallpaper backgrounds taken for granted.
He had messaged me to introduce an old school friend who was moving to East Anglia for a new job in Cambridge. Cambridge’s eye watering house prices had forced the couple to look further afield, and with only two days a week needed in the office, Norwich posed a possibility.
But, from their Sussex home, Norwich had never been anywhere they fancied or were remotely interested in visiting– until they did.
Then it was love at first sight. “Not at all what we were expecting!” she said.
We’ve heard that before.
“It’s lovely. Not remotely what we thought”
That too. Yes, we have electricity; we don’t walk round with straw hanging out of our mouths and string holding up our old tweeds.
Norwich packs a punch and can take your breath away when you least expect it. It comes with the wow factor around many turns.
Wandering around the city last weekend, the late summer sun bouncing off the river, it was looking its best to seduce its new dwellers.
Along the river to Cow Tower, along Upper St Giles, through The Close, the view over Norwich Market at sunset with the castle behind, spoilt for choice when it came to delicious independent restaurants, fantastic pubs, there is so much to drink in.
“What do you like about living there?” she asked. So I made a list, of what I did and didn’t like. Norfolk being so often the butt of jokes from people who had never been here was on the don’t like list.
The like list was long. It’s the perfect size, you can walk anywhere, the river walks, the independent vibe of cafes, bars, pubs, and restaurants, the buildings, mix of styles, the variety of arts and music venues, that you can be in stunning countryside in minutes and be standing on a beach paddling in the sea on a spectacular coast in half an hour.
The Broads on the doorstep, our market towns, the villages. There is something for everyone – a dry ski slope, Whitlingham Country Park, all the city parks, Mousehold Heath, countless places to escape for peace and quiet.
Someone told me this week how he regularly watched the sun come up on Caister beach walking his dog and watched sunset on Breydon Water on his evening walk. Where else can you say that?
Looking at Norwich and Norfolk’s rich pickings, and how every year it becomes first choice for three years for new students, we need to thank these young people for choosing our city.
They might be a bit boisterous and excitable sometimes, enjoy a party, roam exploring in groups and sometimes forget their bike lights, but we must open our arms to them and thank them for bringing new life – and hope they stay for decades to come
Welcome. We hope you appreciate what it has to offer as much as we do.
Standing up for our rights:
Too often we can’t be bothered to make a stand, challenge the unacceptable or fight for what’s right.
Linda Edwards’ five-year legal battle about a £1 parking ticket shows why we should.
The machine was broken when she tried to pay a £1 parking fee.
She phoned to report the fault and was told that someone would visit to repair it.
However, when she returned to her car in Manchester, she found an inspector issuing a £100 fine that increased to £250 and than £458 as she disputed it.
She refused to back down and has suffered three bereavements, including her mother, fighting “the bullies.”
She represented herself in court over a total of £458.75, which included the fine, interest and legal fees. Edwards won her case and her penalty was written off.
She said: “I don’t like to be taken advantage of. I had friends who said to ‘just pay the fine’ but I wasn’t going to be bullied.”
How we should all view life, and then there would be less being “taken advantage of.”