We might as well cut to chase, drinking socially is one of the major bonding processes of student interaction. Over the first month or so you’ll be meeting hundreds of new people, whose faces will be a blur, and whose names will be on the tip of your tongue but you can’t quite recall. The Student Union is the obvious port of call, though there are plenty of other options out there. You will likely become familiar with the Otley run, running the gamut of up to nineteen drinking establishments from Woodies Ale House in Far Headingley to The Dry Dock on Woodhouse Lane, possibly dressed as a Smurf. Survive that and there’s the slew of bars in Leeds city centre at you feet.
Leeds has its fair share of big screens where you can stuff your face with popcorn and enjoy everything from Hollywood brain-junk to Italian neorealism. The Light in the city centre and Cardigan Fields on Kirkstall Road, between Burley and Armley, both have modern multiplexes. The Hyde Park Picturehouse (guess where that is) is the place to get your fix of art house cinema, and the Cottage Road Cinema in Headingley, open since 1912, shows a mix of old and new films. If you’ve never seen Casablanca on the big screen, that’s the place for it!
Don’t forget! Leeds International Film Festival runs from the 1st to the 18th of November showing films from around the globe at Leeds Town Hall, as well as two horror marathon specials at City Varieties and the Hyde Park Picturehouse.
Place to eat and relax
Your head will tell that the cheapest thing to do is to buy a bunch of ingredients and cook your own food, but eating out at a restaurant or relaxing in a cafe is deffo a good thing to do once in a while. There’s the chains you expect to find, like Cafe Nero and Starbucks, but there’s also a good choice of independent cafes like Mint Cafe, Cafe Lento, and Chichini, whose paninis reputedly cure hangovers. Worth investigating, no?
As for restaurants, take your pick: there are loads! Whether you want a Chinese, an Indian, a steak, or vegetarian meal, seek and you shall find. The takeaways, however, are very efficient at finding YOU.
Leeds has plenty of decent music venues including the Student Unions, the O2 Academy, The Cockpit, and The Well. The Library on Woodhouse Lane has a good live space upstairs, while the Royal Park has a small, dungeon-like room downstairs (it’s the smallest live music venue in Leeds with a capacity of 100). Next to it you can find the arguably more respectable Brudenell Social Club.
If clubbing is more your thing, Leeds delivers once again! It’s got Revolution on Kirkstall Road, Mission near the Dark Arches, Halo near Leeds Uni, a converted church, and loads more.
Leeds is a great shopping city, with its stunning arcades featuring shops such as Harvey Nichols and Vivienne Westwood, as well as loads of bargainiferous charity shops like the British Heart Foundation and the RSPCA shop. There are also plenty of vintage stores like Blue Rinse and Best Vintage. Leeds Kirkgate Market, both indoors and out, is a great place to grab cheap food, clothes, textiles, toys, sweets, and pretty much everything else you care to name.
A diet rich in beer, pizza and kebabs can take its toll on a body, which is why it’s fortunate that Leeds has a number of gyms where you can torture it back into shape. To name but a few, Leeds has the Pure Gym next to the Corn Exchange, The Gym at The Core, two Virgin Active Health Clubs, David Lloyd Gym, LA Fitness, and Fitness First. Search around for the best prices and be sure to check that the facilities are adequate for what you want to do before laying down the cash.
Being a student in Leeds is much like being a kid in a candy store; you want to try everything all at once! Relax and take things in one at a time, explore the city, find new friends, and don’t forget to show up to lectures. Welcome to Leeds, we hope you enjoy your stay!
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