New student in York? 20 insider tips that you won’t learn anywhere else

28 Sep 2015 @ 8.21 pm
| News

With freshers flocking to York this week what do they need to know about their new home?

It has come to the sad time where this third year York undergrad must pass on the vital knowledge that she has gained of life in the city…

1. Say no to the coffee chains

Coffee at the Brew And Brownie in York
Coffee at the Brew And Brownie in York

You’ve been drinking at every Costa and Starbucks going since you were 13. Now is the time to put down your loyalty card and enjoy what else the city has to offer. York is full of independent coffee shops that put the big brands to shame.

If you’re looking for something close to campus then try Bison on Heslington Road or if you are heading into town the pancakes at Brew and Brownie are fabulous.

2. Buses are your new best friend

Take the Unibus into town
Take the Unibus into town

You may already know this but buses are the student way of getting around. Cars are too expensive to run and the walk from campus into town is a lot further than you think.

The two main services for the University of York are the Yourbus 66 or the Unibus 44. Buy a saver card for whichever bus company you fancy as it will save you tonnes.

A sneaky tip from me here, the University’s official bus Yourbus is more expensive when it comes to their Yorkey Cards as opposed to Unibus’ Tripper cards. So go with Unibus! But you didn’t hear about that from me…

3. Even better… get on your bike!

Pedal power is cheap, and York is flat. Photograph: Re-cycle York
Pedal power is cheap, and York is flat. Photograph: Re-cycle York

Even if you can’t fit one in the car on move in day invest in a bike. York has lots of great shops for bikes and accessories. Bike rescue project and Re – cycle York have great second hand bikes or for something newer try Bici y mas.

4. Clubs are not the be all and end all

Photograph: Adam Bruderer on Flickr
Love speciality ales? Love The House of Trembling Madness. Photograph: Adam Bruderer on Flickr

Going out for a drink in York doesn’t have to mean clubbing. The city is full of pubs, sadly not 365 as is claimed, though more than enough for you to drink in completely different atmospheres and sceneries for your entire uni career.

Recommendations include the Charles XII in Heslington and The Hop on Fossgate or for more specialist beers try The House of Trembling Madness.

5. Be experimental with food.

Photograph: Carl Mueller on Flickr
If you want good Italian food head to Totos. Photograph: Carl Mueller on Flickr

If you find yourself in the enviable situation of having a bit of your loan left and fancy a meal out don’t immediately go for one of the chain restaurants.

York can cater for every taste going … and several you hadn’t considered yet.

I had never had Thai food before coming to York and would recommend Khao San Road on Walmgate or for a closer to campus option try Totos Italian.

6. Visit what is on your doorstep

Photograph: Pavlo Boyko on Flickr
What could be more relaxing than sitting in the Museum Gardens? Photograph: Pavlo Boyko on Flickr

As appealing as sitting in your bed all weekend is there is a lot of York to explore. Museums are plentiful and if you want to chill out then I would recommend the Museum Gardens as the perfect place to pass your time.

If you want to be more intellectual then try the York Castle Museum, the National Railway Museum or Clifford’s Tower for a stunning view of the city.

7. Join every society going… then go to a couple

Fancy joining Taylor Swift Soc? Photograph © Eva Rinaldi on Wikimedia Commons
Fancy joining Taylor Swift Soc? Photograph © Eva Rinaldi on Wikimedia Commons

Societies are there to cater for your every interest so make the most of them. You get the chance to meet new people, do new things and have a lot of fun.

The weirder the society the more fun you will have. Trust me; I’m the Secretary of Douglas Adams Society where having fun in the spirit of the Hitchhikers author is the order of the day.

Other unusual societies at the University of York include the Taylor Swift Society, SwiftSoc and the Fetish Society, FetSoc.

8. Get a railcard and then go everywhere.

Boats, Goths and a cracking castle – Whitby is well worth a visit. Photograph © Mark Minas
Boats, Goths and an awesome abbey – Whitby is well worth a visit. Photograph © Mark Minas

If you’ve seen all that York has to offer then spread your wings into the beautiful surrounding countryside.

The county itself has a lot to offer whether you head for the Moors or the Coast. Don’t let your stay in Yorkshire be a limited one.

A short trip to Thirsk or Northallerton gives you a good taste of Yorkshire life or why not head to the beaches at Whitby or Scarborough for a taste of your childhood.

9. Next day delivery or a new adventure?

One of Katy's favourites, the Minster Gate Bookshop. Photograph: YorkMix
One of Katy’s favourites, the Minster Gate Bookshop. Photograph: YorkMix

Don’t get me wrong you will be obsessed with Amazon as a student but if you are after books then you’ll often do a lot better if you look in the local bookshops.

Some of York’s resident bookshops are beauties to behold. They are well worth the trip out even if you don’t buy anything.

Personal highlights include the Minster Gate Bookshop and Fossgate Books.

10. Behold the library in all its glory

Photograph: Camera_phone_Iomo on Flickr
The JB Morrell stunning book lovers everywhere since 1963. Photograph: Camera_phone_Iomo on Flickr

If you are a humanities or arts student then welcome to your new home. If you study sciences or maths etc then you’ll probably never see the inside of it.

The University of York’s libraries are more than just a book lending service they have huge study spaces which are great for group work and a great café. Incidentally you can get takeaway delivered to there. Not that I’ve tried…

11. Seek out the campus food highlights

York University campus. Photograph © Bing Maps
York University campus. Photograph © Bing Maps

Campus is home to some pretty great food outlets as well as bars. The Courtyard has some ace paninis, for waffles head to the Ron Cooke Hub and for general eating Alcuin is the college king with the Kitchen and Alcuin Bistro.

12. Don’t get into the North vs South Debate

You're on the right track…
You’re on the right track…

The stereotypical York student comes from the south or worse the Midlands (we are a difficult bunch to define). If you want to lose friends – and the locals – quickly then definitely have an argument over which is better…

You’re in the north now. Learn quickly.

13. Find the cheapest bar deals

What will York's revellers do now?
Where can you go now the Willow’s gone?

Some of the bars and clubs in town do some great deals on drinks; Dusk do two for one cocktails most nights, Revolution do two for one cocktails if you buy one of their cards (well worth it if you are a fan of Revs like my house).

Also check out the university’s official club nights at Kuda, Salvation, Fibbers and of course Revs to get some of the better drinks options.

If you were looking for the ultimate in cheap drinks then I am afraid you have arrived too late my fresher friend. The sticky floored paradise that was Willow has gone. Now excuse me whilst I go cry a little…

14. Don’t ignore York’s smaller shops

Plenty for the discerning shopper on Fossgate
Plenty for the discerning shopper on Fossgate. Photograph: Richard McDougall

York has a great amount of big brands and chain stores but is also world renowned for its smaller shops.

Shambles and Stonegate in particular have some brilliant local shops and Yorkshire brands which will help you feel more at ease with the city.

If you want somewhere a little quieter (and who doesn’t on a Saturday) try Fossgate whose shops include the beautiful Give The Dog A Bone.

15. But if you need something bigger

Shoppers on Coney Street. Photograph: YorkMix
Shoppers on Coney Street. Photograph: YorkMix

Saying that if you need bigger, well known shops then Parliament Street really should be your destination.

With New Look, H&M and Next amongst other shops York has pretty much everything… apart from a Primark but we’re getting two of those soon.

16. Take in the atmosphere of the city

Even when the tourists are gone in winter, it's a friendly place
Even when the tourists are gone in winter, it’s a friendly place

York, like a lot of northern towns, is a pretty friendly place. After a while you stop feeling like a tourist and really get into the beat of the city.

So don’t go giving the locals a hard time or that atmosphere will sadly disappear.

17. Take up film as a hobby

Photograph: John Lord on Flickr
The Reel Cinema brings a touch of old world class to cinema going. Photograph © John Lord on Flickr

York is lucky to have several cinemas in and around the city. If you can get yourself a membership card then your best bet is Picturehouse in the centre of town.

It’s well located and shows the latest hits as well as classics. If you want a slightly older and grander cinema try The Reel Cinema by the train station, it’s a lot more reasonably priced.

And there’s loads of mini movies from across the globe during the Aesthetica Short Film Festival in November.

18. Try not to shop on campus

Aldi love York so much they set their advert here

I had flatmates who used to do their weekly food shops on campus. It’s an expensive exercise to say the least. Aldi isn’t too far away if you walk across the Stray.

The more energetic might make it to Morrisons (that used to be my weekly gym).

If you can’t do that do an online order as most places offer good deals for first time and repeat users. If you can’t reach the minimum spend, then club together.

19. Keep up to date with culture

Photograph: Chronotopian on Wikimedia Commons
York is transformed by light during the Illuminating York festival. Photograph © Chronotopian on Wikimedia Commons

York is home to a lot of festivals. The big festivals include The Great Yorkshire Fringe, York Literature Festival, York Food and Drink Festival, the Jorvik Viking Festival and Illuminating York.

Getting involved with some of the city’s biggest events allows you to explore what it and the surrounding area have to offer in greater depth. Keep checking in to YorkMix to see what’s going on!

20.Welcome to York

Inside the new Waterstones: the display of York books
Inside another place most students are likely to visit: Waterstones on Coney Street. Photograph: YorkMix

This is the start of the rest of your life but don’t let that get you down just make the most of it. They say that when you stay in York for a period of time you’ll never leave. I’m starting to realise what they mean.

Enjoy your time in York and follow the advice of this third year and you can’t go too far wrong.