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.