Voilà, you are on course to Newcastle University, and soon you will be able to explore the magnificent city of Newcastle, or as locals call it – The Toon. Deemed as Britain’s most favourite student city and a prominent party destination, Newcastle is not only the heart of the North East, but it is also a hidden gem that captures the spirit of British culture in its most pure form.
As an international student, when I first came to The Toon, I had absolutely no idea what to expect from the city. I did not know much about Britain, either. So here are 5 things I wish I had known before I came to Newcastle:
Although, not exactly the set of Game of Thrones, Newcastle does have the tendency to get quite windy and chilly in the winter. Frequent rain showers are also not a myth, but rather the reality. On the bright side, heavy snow is a very rare occurrence and temperatures almost never drop below 0ºC. You do get to enjoy quite a lot of sunshine, especially in the spring. A quick tip from me: always carry a small umbrella in your bag (unless you enjoy the rain), and bring a warm coat, even if it appears sunny (it is probably still cold).
2. Wey aye, man! The Geordie accent is proper canny!
I admit. After studying English for more than 10 years, I was still shocked the first time I heard a local speaking in their Geordie dialect. It took me two whole weeks to get the knack of it, but now I love it!
So be prepared! At the beginning, you might not understand everything locals are saying, but do not let that discourage you! The Geordie accent is very unique and beautiful once you get accustomed to it. It’s like you’ve mastered a new language! That’s proper canny! (Geordie’s way to say “very good”)
Quick tip : Google videos of people speaking in Geordie accents and try to understand as much as possible. This trick helped me massively!
3. Newcastle IS the party capital of England
This one I did hear before I came to Newcastle University. But I did not necessarily believe it. Newcastle is the British Ibiza. Seriously?
Oh my, I should have never doubted this.
Believe me when I say, The Toon knows how to party! With a range of clubs and pubs, the city has something to offer to anyone who likes to move it, move it. Plus, it is extremely cheap, so let us give Newcastle extra points for that.
Tip: Order a cab at least an hour before you leave the club! The city tends to get massively busy on weekends, and you might find it impossible to find an available taxi at peak hours.
4. For the love of pastry and kebab
Fun fact : Did you know that Newcastle is the Greggs capital of the UK with more than three times as many stores as the national average?
Although not considered British food, Kebab is treated as a national treasure in the Toon and is specifically well worshipped after a night out, when combined with cheesy chips. If that is not enough to convince you that you are in for a delicious treat, the North East (and mainly nearby Teesside) also happens to be the home of parmo. A Chicken Parmesan dish, briefly pan-fried then baked or broiled cutlet served with a tomato-based sauce. Yum!
5.Home is where your heart is
Fun fact : Each year Newcastle welcomes more than 4,000 international students and offers remarkable cultural diversity.
From the unique Chinatown to the annual Turkish Bazaar, Newcastle offered me the opportunity to quench my thirst for cultural enrichment, as not only did I explore oriental belly dancing, but also cured my home sickness with some very tasty Balkan food that almost felt like home.
And so my heart has truly been captured by the Toon.