I’ve lived in Lancaster for nearly three years now. When I first encountered the city through the prospectus for the university, it was love at first sight. I knew that this was where I wanted to be, that there was something special about the university and something even more special about the city and surrounding area.

In the time I’ve been here, that much and so much more has been proven to me. I’ve experienced Lancaster as a home, Manchester as a near-by cosmopolitan metropolis, the lake district as a near-by place to escape, and none of it could be more perfect.

Lancaster has a reputation of never letting go. Many people who come here for whatever reason, be it university, work, family ties, or other possibilities, never leave. It’s comfortable, safe and easy here. Everything is within walking distance of everything else. Due to the university, there is a huge selection of different past times available, from role-playing to archery to lacrosse. There really is something for whatever takes your fancy. And if Lancaster itself doesn’t have it, you’re sure to be able to find it not too far away.

As a 20 year old who’s slowly recovering from depression and serious anxiety issues and getting over the fact that I tried and failed at something I was expecting to do since I was old enough to understand the word ‘university’, Lancaster is fantastic. I have never felt as accepted and welcome as I do here. I have real friends who I can’t wait to see every day, and my options are open with regard to my love life. The social group as a whole that I consider myself lucky enough to be a part of has a 100% tolerance policy of ‘do what feels good’.

However, as is the way of the world, sometimes I wonder if Lancaster is the best place for me to be. I know it’s better than living in Wales with my parents. As much as I adore my mum and step-dad, since my brother moved out, the family home has become their home, and having their grown up daughter pottering about the house wouldn’t be ideal, I’m sure. Also, as I’ve stated already, my friends are in Lancaster. The few friends I did make in Wales are scattered across the country doing their own various things.

There are times when I’m walking around Lancaster, and I take stock of the limited number of shops, the poor selection of leisure activities that aren’t student-centric, the poor library, and a multitude of other things, and I panic. My chest tightens and an overwhelming feeling of claustrophobia descends upon me like a net. More than once this has caused me to stop in my tracks in the city centre, gasping for breath. Alkaline Trio have an excellent lyric in their song ‘Dead End Road’ which sums it up:

“Turns out that you were choking

On a town you couldn’t leave

You knew you’d never leave”

This is how I feel about Lancaster. I know I’m settled here, but I don’t know if that’s such a good thing after all.


3 thoughts on “Love-Hate-Lancaster

  1. Nowhere has to be suffocatingly forever and everywhere may be home for a while. Opression can pass through one like a lazy wind and we are wont to wonder what if?

  2. I remember when we spoke about this in wetherspoons, and it was brought to mind again just today when I went to the Morecambe citizens advice bureau.

    As a quick side, if you find Lancaster a bit of a dead-end place sometimes try and avoid Morecambe, the suicide talk on Saturday was less depressing.

    Anyway, as I entered the CAB my attention was quickly drawn to how many opportunities there actually are in this area. The bureau itself was full of people talking about various policies and benefit laws, I was even told of someone who was head-hunted for a job in London after running a successful campaign.

    And then I turned my mind to realising that there are loads of small communities everywhere, there’s the Dukes, Dalton Rooms, numerous clubs and activities, even each of the bars has a small group of locals.

    Lancaster may not be the most thrilling of places, especially in the early 20’s when you may feel the need to be somewhere else where there is more happening. (I know that I do) You need to remember that there is plenty out there, you just have to go find it.

    I’ll finish by saying this (because it’s late and I’m rambling a bit); you’re still young, plenty of time to move on at some point but enjoy it for what it is now. 🙂

  3. I know plenty of ex-students that love Lancaster, and plenty of locals raised here that hate it, but it is gifted with a very wide range of cultural events for its size and is in striking distance of so much.

    I’m used to London as a metropolis, and find Manchester a bit pokey, but the funny thing about London is that it’s not like New York or something. Once out of the very middle it’s made of lots of wee places smaller than Lancaster, and people have to make an effort to head out and unearth things, or they can easily find themselves stuck in a grey little small town zone.

    Or, to put it another way, the world outside is the world outside, but what you make of it is mostly inside your head! … ;o)

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