Making life-changing decisions are never easy. I always worry that I’m going to choose the wrong path, the wrong city, the wrong accommodation, the wrong job, all of it. I’m forever wishing I could time-travel to the future to see what decisions I should be making and especially to see what’s going to happen once I graduate this July.
Choosing what university to attend was probably the first life-changing decision I had to make. I was going to be moving to another country (or ‘nation’ if you want to get technical about it), a new city and living away from home for the first time. That’s a lot harder when you’re not twenty minutes down the road in Belfast, but instead the Irish Sea is in the way of you and your hometown.
A lot of factors were considered when it came to choosing which university I was going to attend. Four out of five of my UCAS choices were in England, so my number one priority was ‘the further away, the better’ but when it came down to choosing my top two, I buckled and chose Liverpool and Belfast. I decided to leave it to fate. If I wasn’t meant to move away from Ireland then I would get into my second choice, Belfast. If I was, then I’d be moving to Liverpool. And well, you all know how that story ended.
So why did Liverpool John Moores become my first choice? And out of the 130 universities in the UK and 7 in the Republic of Ireland, why did I choose to study at that particular one?
Is ‘Poaching’ the correct term? Probably not, but it does seem that three quarters of the students in Liverpool are Irish, so there has to be some sort of snatching involved.
In my A Level year, a team from LJMU gave a talk to my class about the prospect of studying at the university. At the time, I had heard of it and knew of a few people that attended there, but was it on my list? No, but after being given the talk and hearing that Brian May from Queen was the Chancellor, it miraculously appeared on aforementioned list.
Then there was an open day in Belfast for LJMU since they always have so much interest from Northern Ireland, it saved everyone flying over to see the university and lecturers so instead, brought the university to Belfast. I remember being in a small room where a talk was given about different courses available in the Business School. I was the only person in the room interested in studying Public Relations, which to me, didn’t look promising.
I’m not sure what it is, but I never really trust promotional videos. I mean, they’re there to promote, so they won’t show you the negative sides to the university or things that students complain about – that was research I had to conduct myself. But the university visiting my school and holding an open day in Belfast definitely influenced my decision on where to go.
2. The city of Liverpool
I was brought up a Liverpool fan, so that was definitely an added bonus. I’d never been to Liverpool before in my life (until the day that I moved in) but at the time of applying, had never actually been to England before either so had nothing really to go on. I’m still yet to visit Scotland or Wales – as you can tell, I’m well traveled.
I obviously did a lot of research into Liverpool and it was mainly the nightlife and social scene that was drawing me to choosing Liverpool. It clearly has so much music history and is known for being a place for hen parties and stag parties, but other things like the shops, Albert Docks and the Irish connection were all factors as well. I had just turned 18 and was ready to party my little socks off – forgive the naivety.
I took a trip to Newcastle as it was one of my top choices and I was really set on going there. However on the day of the open day, my flight was delayed by three hours meaning I missed the open day completely and never even got a chance to see the city itself. I’m a huge believer in signs and this, to me, couldn’t have been a bigger sign telling me not to go there.
There was something telling me that Liverpool seemed to be the place to go.
3. The course
Obviously I had to mention it as some point… LJMU offered a Business with Public Relations course and it sounded like everything I needed for a career in PR. The offer for a sandwich year also attracted me as I knew before joining the course that I wanted to do a placement year. The National Survey results were all very positive, and was something I really looked into before deciding on my course options.
The modules seemed interesting and I already knew someone that had taken that very course and who had gone on to work in music PR, which basically sealed the deal for me. All of my course options were for PR/Communications except for Belfast where I chose a Finance course. If I wasn’t for moving to England then I wasn’t for studying PR either. Thank God that didn’t happen.
If you would like to read why I chose to study Public Relations then you can read all about that here.
4. Familiar faces
One thing that majorly put me off Liverpool was the amount of people that I was going to know before I had even moved there. So many people from my school year had chosen Liverpool – whether it was LJMU, University of Liverpool, Liverpool Hope or Edgehill, I knew around twelve people that were headed for Merseyside.
I had chosen four of my university options to be in England because I wanted a fresh start, to go somewhere new and make a new life. I had chosen Salford in Manchester, Northumbria in Newcastle and Coventry University along with Liverpool and Belfast.
When I started my UCAS application, Liverpool and Belfast were probably the two on the bottom of my list. I didn’t want to go somewhere were I knew a lot of people. I wanted to see and experience new things with new people around me. But when it came down to the final decision, I caught myself on and thought that it would be a good thing to know people in this new city, especially as it was the first time I was moving away from home.
However, I did move in with complete strangers in my first year so didn’t often see anyone that I knew from home. As the years have went on, a few of us from home have drifted back together again and I spend a lot of my time with friends from home that live over here too. The majority of friends I have in Liverpool aren’t from Lurgan, but my closest friends are. You just can’t shake that Lurgan connection I guess.
5. Home from home
Now the reason I love Liverpool so much is because it’s just home from home. I can’t walk down the street without bumping into someone I know. Over the three years that I’ve lived here, I’ve built a little community for myself and I’ve really settled here, which makes it hard to even think about leaving in only a matter of months.
When I lived in London on placement year and would come back to visit, every time I stepped out of Lime Street Station, I felt like I’d finally come home. I think Liverpool will always feel like home to me and I won’t be waiting too long before I’m back for a visit, once I move away after graduation. I’ve adopted it and it’s adopted me and I’m going to leave with so many cherished memories of my time here.
I couldn’t imagine having gone to university anywhere else and I can’t imagine feeling so at home anywhere else in the future, but I hope someday that I do, wherever I come to end up.
Liverpool has been the best three years ever and it’s all because I chose Liverpool John Moores University. If you know this Irish song then you’ll get that it will be the leaving of Liverpool that grieves me. T’rah girl.