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    I chose a smaller city over London when I moved to the UK. Here’s why it was the right decision.

    Tanushree Srivastava moved to England from India as an international student.

    Tanushree Srivastava/BI

    Tanushree Srivastava moved to Nottingham, England, in 2021 to pursue her master’s degree. Srivastava was surprised by how much she enjoyed living in the smaller, student city.She eventually relocated to London for better job opportunities after graduating.  

    I moved to Nottingham in 2021 from India to pursue my master’s degree at Nottingham Trent University. I’d dreamed of studying in London and didn’t expect much from the smaller English city.

    I thought Nottingham would just be one stop on my career journey, but it became my home away from home.

    City center in Nottingham, England.

    Tanushree Srivastava/BI

    Beginning life in the UK

    I arrived in the UK for the first time in 2021 as an international student. England felt so different from home. The weather in September was chilly, and lush green parks were everywhere around my accommodation.

    I had pre-booked a studio apartment in Nottingham city center with my friend, another international student at Nottingham Trent University.

    This studio was part of private student accommodation located in the city center and was cheaper and more spacious than the university’s offering. We viewed and booked the accommodation remotely through an online student rental agency.

    Our shared studio cost around £197 a week, about $1,000 a month, including bills. My friend and I split the expenses, so it was a good deal.

    When I successfully moved all my stuff to my studio, we had to quarantine according to the UK’s COVID-19 protocols.

    One of the many green spaces in Nottingham.

    Tanushree Srivastava/BI

    Differences living in Nottingham compared to India

    My first visit outside my accommodation was to a grocery store. I was shocked by the prices as I mentally converted them into my home country’s currency. Everything was very expensive.

    I bought an ice cream for £6 or 600 rupees, the most expensive I’d ever purchased.

    I didn’t experience a cultural shock when I moved to the UK, as I have always watched movies and documentaries about life abroad. But I loved absorbing the new experiences.

    Back in my home country, I was affected by the extra-busy lifestyle of a metropolitan city, including the crowds, pollution, and other factors. I always craved fresh air and open spaces.

    Nottingham is a bustling city, but there is always easy access to green spaces.

    There are many parks and gardens and a path near the River Trent. Even universities like Nottingham Trent and the University of Nottingham have huge gardens and greenery for students.

    Srivastava enjoyed the British classic fish and chips by the Nottingham canalside.

    Tanushree Srivastava/BI

    I’m a big foodie and struggled to find good Indian food options, as the dishes and cuisines were very different from what I was accustomed to. After days of exploration and research, I found some amazing spots for my favorite Indian dishes.

    Another difference I noticed was how multicultural Nottingham was. During orientation, I met so many people from countries all over. Everything from their language to their food preferences varied.

    Nottingham is charmingly historic and artsy

    Despite arriving in the city during the COVID and staying in quarantine for the first 10 days, I quickly found myself enchanted by the city’s charm.

    On my first stroll around the “Old Market Square,” or the city center, I bought some clothes from White Rose, a vintage chain people in Nottingham love. Then, I had a coffee break at Cafe Nero and further explored the Lace Market, one of Nottingham’s oldest areas, and its history.

    The Old Market Square in Nottingham, England.

    Tanushree Srivastava/BI

    Walking around the city and visiting various artsy shops, thrift stores, and exhibitions became my favorite activity.

    One of the best parts of living in Nottingham was the commitment to its status as a “student city.” Museums, cafés, shops, and markets often had student discounts. On arrival as a university student, you’re introduced to many apps and offers by student ambassadors or advertisements posted around. I loved the apps Unidays and Student Beans. They had discounts on almost everything.

    The city has a youthful energy. There was a big venue called Rock City for clubbing and the Nottingham Bowl for bowling and arcade games, which were £4 per game for students on Thursdays.

    Caffé Nero is a beloved coffee shop chain in England.

    Tanushree Srivastava/BI

    Moving to London

    As much as I adored Nottingham, I eventually faced a harsh reality: its limited job market.

    As a student in Nottingham, I gained many life experiences, including buying groceries, managing my budget, and making new friends. But while the city provided ample opportunities for personal growth and exploration, it couldn’t compete with London’s career prospects.

    I started a part time job as a warehouse operative at a luxury brand while I was a student and took a few internships to enhance my résumé.

    After graduating in September 2022, I applied for a post-study work visa, which allows international students to work or apply for jobs for two more years after finishing their courses.

    I applied for the graduate visa in December 2022, which cost me around £2,000. This extension allowed me to work toward my dream of settling in the UK.

    Finding a full-time job in the creative industry in Nottingham was hard. My income from part-time roles was insufficient and didn’t help me pursue my career goals in writing and editing.

    The decision to move to London was tough as I had no definite job position lined up, but I felt there were no more opportunities to pursue in Nottingham. Even though my cost of living doubled, moving to London was worth a chance.

    The risk paid off and I landed a journalism internship based in London.

    Tanushree Srivastava moved to England from India as an international student.

    Tanushree Srivastava/BI

    Nottingham will always be special to me

    My time in Nottingham was transformative. I will always love the city and consider it home. I still love visiting my friends back there and cherish a weekend’s worth of bowling and great food.

    Read the original article on Business Insider

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