What it’s like coming to uni from a small town

Don’t ask where I’m from unless you have an hour to kill


Coming to Brighton from a little old town is a big step. The new environment, new people, and don’t forget the seagulls. It’s an amazing place to explore and to make your own. But there are a few things you might not have anticipated.

‘So, where are you from?’

This might sound like an easy question, but when the answer is “in the middle of nowhere” and your hometown’s claim to fame is the length of the railway viaduct, it’s a bit of a struggle. You begin naming towns or cities that are 45 minutes away and you never even visit and start plotting them on an invisible map in the air. You feel exhausted by the end of the conversation, and the other person will politely nod their head, even though they clearly have no idea what you’ve been going on about for the last 10 minutes.

You miss the green

After a while in the hustle and bustle of the city centre, you may yearn for the patch of countryside right outside your window at home, used to spontaneous walks down country paths in your wellies. You’ll be used to the wildlife, while for others, rabbit sightings may seem more special. You may also be the resident bug-catcher in your flat. Thankfully, home to a national park, Sussex isn’t short of beautiful scenery.

You can escape when the city seems too much

You can escape when the city seems too much

You know where I live? Let’s be friends!

On the rare occasion that someone does know the name of your town, you feel overwhelming joy and a sudden connection, until your dreams are shattered because it was where their nan lived in 1998 and they can’t remember anything about it.

An abundance of buses

If you’ve grown up in a city or large town, public transport will likely be something you take for granted. However, when your hometown has two buses – one of which takes the elderly to Sainsbury’s – regular public transport will seem like a new-found wonder. The 25 comes every 15 minutes? Wow. There’s an app instead of bus tickets? We might as well have a hoverboard. On a visit to London with my flatmates, I had a Q&A session on what an Oyster card was and looked like a village idiot stood bewildered in the middle of Oxford Circus tube station.

We got there in the end

We got there in the end

There are so many shops

“Not even a Topshop?” asked a flatmate, open-mouthed. Nope, not even Topshop. In small towns, you’ll find that the shops mainly consist of quaint little cafés, phone shops and charity shops with the odd New Look and, of course, Poundland. Whereas studying in a city means you have a whole range of shops, let alone the Lanes. Coming back from Brighton, my purse is empty, but my heart is full.

You’ll learn new slang

Since arriving at university, I have had to learn a whole new vocabulary. With many of my uni friends coming from London, in the first week I felt like I was taking an extra-curricular in foreign languages. ‘Moist’, ‘clapped’, and ‘peak’ are my favourites (although I’m still struggling with the last one).

It’s different, but you love it

Studying in a city like Brighton is an educational experience, in more ways than one. I do miss the simple life back home but have found a new home at university too. I couldn’t have chosen a better place to be.

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Brighton, you are a beauty