I’ve been living in Leicester, England for five weeks now. Five weeks to explore and discover the city of Leicester – a city in the midlands, about a two hour drive from London, with a diverse population, and a lot of Subway restaurants.
These past few weeks have been up and down. At some points I’ve been homesick and other times I can’t believe what a beautiful place this is and how much I enjoy being with the people I’ve met so far. Study abroad is basically one long string of mood swings. I’ve laughed so hard I’ve almost peed myself and cried after discovering the oven temperatures were in Celsius instead of Fahrenheit (yes, seriously – it was a down day – no judging).
But, I’ve made a deal with myself to stay present in the moment. That means appreciating the time that I have here and, not sulking once I am home. We cannot mourn what we can’t change.
Regardless, here are a few of the things I have come to love about Leicester.
1. The history of the city. It’s amazing to walk down the street and be surrounded by these beautiful buildings that house all kinds of businesses, offices, restaurants, and the like. It gives the city so much character.
2. Primark. WHY DOES PRIMARK NOT EXIST IN THE UNITED STATES? Honestly, I cannot believe how cheap Primark is. Even with my conversion rate (£1 = $1.61), I can buy clothes cheaper here than I could in the US. I don’t know how it’s possible. I will mourn the loss of Primark when I go home in December.
3. Leicester Market. Just like with Primark, I can buy fruits and vegetables cheaper at Leicester Market than I can in a US supermarket. You can buy one pounds of tomatoes for £1 ($1.60). After working in a grocery store for three years, I can safely say you cannot buy a pound of tomatoes for a $1.60…anywhere. The food quality is amazing too, even better than the US.
4. Cafés. I am not a big coffee drinker, but here in Leicester, there are so many good cafés to choose from. More than once, I’ve found myself sitting at a café writing, reading, or just people watching. It’s a little surreal. It’s the ultimate fantasy – sitting in a foreign café, writing, and watching the world go by.
5. When the sun comes out, Leicester is transformed. Honestly, after a few days of English rain, it’s amazing how wonderful it is to see the sun. It seems like everyone in Leicester has a little pep in their step when the sun comes out. It’s nice to see.
6. Dedication to baked potatoes (or “jacket potatoes”). I love baked potatoes. They are delicious and amazing, and well, enough said. The fact that there are several restaurants dedicated just to baked potatoes in Leicester – major selling point.
7. Pub life. The English are a lot more relaxed about alcohol than we are in the US. Even though I don’t drink, I think I prefer the attitude concerning drinking here rather than in the US. Drinking in the US always seems like such a big production – here it’s just a part of life. And the thing is, hanging out in pubs is fun. It’s like being in a fishbowl – seeing the different people, young and old, talking and relaxing while enjoying a few.
Where’s your favorite place to go/thing about your town?