This student life: `You can only do it when you're young'

Leaving student life behind doesn't necessarily mean leaving the city where you studied.
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Summer Term, week 6 at the Manchester Student House

THE STUDENTS are feeling good about their adoptive home town. Ian is currently in Leeds sorting out his holiday job. He's going to be working for the same pub chain back in his home town as he does in Manchester. "I'm going to miss being in Manchester," he says, "but it won't feel so weird to be back in my home town if I'm working for another branch of the pub."

Meanwhile, Tasha's happy because she's finished her exams. "They went fine," she explains, "but I've not had time to think about how they went or how I feel now that they're over. I'm trying to get a job now I've finished my exams," she says. "I'm still thinking about going back to college to study law eventually, but I'd much rather get a clerical job in a law firm in the meantime."

She's keen to stay in Manchester because she feels strongly about enjoying the city life before it's too late. "There is only a certain amount of time you can live in a city like Manchester and love the life it offers," she explains, "because you can only do it when you are young. I really like living here, but I rarely go to my favourite areas where all the great bars and restaurants are because of my lifestyle."

Tasha reckons being a student means that you can miss out on city life. "It's good fun being a student because there are so many people around you who are like-minded. But student life in Manchester is very artificial. Everyone gets so lazy here. You think `there's a pub across the road, we might as well go there', so no-one makes an effort to go beyond that. You're all doing the same things in the same places and you're not really seeing the city for what it really is.

"Manchester has so much to offer as a city," says this born-and-bred Londoner, "but my life here is so narrow. You could stay here for three years as a student and still not know what Manchester's really like, and I've tried to fight that. I wouldn't mind moving down to an area like Castlefield which is more towards the town centre. It's really great there. It's so frustrating to know that that part of the city exists but not be part of it."

So why does Tasha want to stay and work in Manchester? "You could have that London life up here," she explains. "But the people are nicer and you still have loads of posh places to go to. It's a cheaper city but in a smaller amount of space so it's easier to get around. I would love to get a job up here, but it would be weird because it would take so much longer to make friends. When you're a student you make friends quickly because you can go out and get drunk with them all afternoon."

Tasha has been revelling in the city's feel-good vibe since United came back home with their trophies, and even a flirt with danger hasn't put her off. "It was absolutely mental here over the two days of celebrating," she says. "When me and Leona were coming back from seeing the bus go through the city centre we couldn't get home because all the roads were jammed.

"Bus drivers were opening the emergency exits so that people could just get off the busses and walk, because the traffic had come to a stand-still. Everyone was in a good mood, and people were waving to people in the street. Then this little boy - he must have been about 14 - just kicked in one of the big windows on the buss and then everyone started doing it."

The students are planning one last bash before they all move out of the house and go their separate ways. "We're planning a party to celebrate the end of exams as so many of us are leaving Manchester at the end of term," explains Leona. "In fact, it will be the only proper party we've ever had here. That's strange, because when we first got the house we thought `what a great place for parties', but we haven't had a single one all the time we've been here."





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