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Leaving Leeds

After five swift years, it’s almost time to say goodbye to my University experience and the city of Leeds. How have five years gone by so quickly?

It feels as if I’ve been in a time warped bubble since I came to Leeds in 2019, at the same time I feel so different to who I was when I first arrived. Leeds isn’t the same either. A strange, removed and dissociated feeling lingered as I took on my final year last September. I suddenly felt very old and removed from the Leeds I had left before my exchange year. With many of my friends having graduated and moved back home, new waves of trends, students and attitudes exhibited on campus. I felt lonely and bored of studying, I just wanted to be done with Uni. Just a few months later, despite the workload, I am enjoying myself every day and grappling with time, questioning how it all went by so quickly, wishing it would slow down!


I remember moving into first year halls, the nervous excitement I felt and the dust in my nose of the Tannery room I moved into. Looking back, it feels like a world away, yet strangely it also feels like yesterday. Each year has been so different and so instrumental for my personal growth. I can almost compare each year to a chapter in a book, although I don’t think it’s the same genre the entire way through (second and third year were giving horror due to my lockdown/ flop era). Along with these eras came the different characters, the wild and wholesome moments, the hangovers, the relationships and friendships that worked out and the ones that didn’t. They have all left their impressions on me. The places have too: the grotty sesh basements, the late night escapades and drunken summer days in Hyde Park, Eddy B library, Club Mission (for my 2019 oldies), and all their scenes and smells - beer stained carpets and scurrying rats. 


Inevitably, good and bad times have been had. Leeds has seen me at my absolute worst, when I was trying and when I had given up. It has also seen me through some interesting phases of hair dye and wearing coats 5 times too big for me. Nonetheless, I am wiser now. Everyone talks about how much Uni ‘changes you’, but I never understood that until now. The unprecedented amount of growth in confidence, ability, independence, resilience and patience for myself and others has really made this entire experience so worth it, although the insane amount of debt I am leaving with makes me question this… But that’s a conversation for another day!


At the end of the day, I am and have always been a part of Leeds, just as Leeds will always remain an important part in my journey for years to come. I’ll remember it as the city that nourished my early adult years and immense growth. I just wish I slowed down and appreciated where I was during each phase when it was happening, because maybe it would’ve gone a bit slower, (yeah, yeah, I know I’ve had five years, I shouldn’t complain).


But whether you have 3, 5 or 7 years of Uni, finally finishing feels surreal. Whether you hated or loved Uni, every memory and chapter compiles to that last moment. Despite all the ups and downs, I look back fondly and love Leeds for all the friends, memories and lessons it has given me.


Brb, crying that I have to enter full time employment and because I won’t ever get to be a Hyde Park rat ever again. 


Words by Demelza, she/her



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