Fatima is an international student from Pakistan, she is studying BEng (Hons) Biomedical Engineering here at The University of Bradford. She gives us her UK travel tips and highlights some of her favourite UK cities.
Fatima Hayat, BEng (Hons) Biomedical Engineering.
Being an international student, travelling to different cities in the UK has been a vital student enriching experience. Familiarise yourself with the culture and history of the UK by experiencing the landmarks first-hand. The ease of travel, the discounts I benefited from and the Student Railcard, which you can keep both physically and electronically in your phone, were among the opportunities I availed.
The Trainline app on your mobile device allows you to not only find out about the train and coach times but allows you to track your journey, while also giving you the option to get hold of an e-ticket which can be printed at the station or stored in the app.
Remember these essentials before travelling:
Carry an umbrella/ raincoat and a warm jumper: The weather in the UK is unpredictable! Even if it’s sunny, make sure you carry a warm sweater or hoodie to keep yourself warm in the evening.
Be alert: Although every stop is announced, always make sure you know when to get off; the Trainline App has a live train location, updating you with every stop.
Travel with a group of friends especially at night: Even if you travel solo, make sure you let your close ones know where you’re going and when you are expected to return. You can also send them your Uber location or Whatsapp live location.
Always arrive at the station at least 15 minutes before departure: It is best to arrive early so that you have ample time to check out the train platform, print tickets or just buy a coffee for the train ride.
Keep your ticket with you at all times: It is worth purchasing a ticket holder so you are reminded of where you’ve kept your ticket rather than chucking it in a bag- make sure you have it after your train journey as you will need to get it checked to exit the station.
Don’t hesitate to ask the staff any questions: The train staff are extremely helpful and are happy to answer any queries regarding tickets, timings and travel. They are easy to spot too! Just keep an eye out for bright green vests.
Places I had the chance to visit whilst at The University of Bradford:
Travel time (train): approximately 20 minutes
Travel time (bus): approximately 40 minutes
Probably the touristic town that is in the closest proximity to Bradford, I have been able to visit this town numerous times throughout the academic year, often to de-stress after exams and deadlines.
The German Christmas Market in Millennium Square has recently started from the 8th of November and will remain until the 22nd of December. It houses many stalls selling Christmas articles, pancakes, hot chocolates and many rides including carousels. The best time to experience this essence of Christmas is definitely after sunset as that’s the time all the lights turn on, mimicking the vibrant scenes I watched from my childhood Christmas movies as I walked down the street with a scarf wrapped around me and a cup of hot chocolate to warm my soul.
Other attractions include the arched marble infrastructure of Victoria’s Quarter that comprises of many high-end brands. The Trinity Kitchen in the Trinity Shopping Centre has great street food varieties including many Halal options, where I got to try the delicious chicken shawarma from Rola Wala. The Kitty Café, although pricey and requires prior reservation, was the perfect way to relieve all my stress by spending the afternoon with my favourite beings.
Travel time (train): approximately 1 hour
I walked to the city centre along the River Ouse, through the museum gardens to the first landmark: The Shambles. The Shambles is the inspiration for the iconic Diagon Alley from the Harry Potter movies and is one of the best-preserved streets in the whole of Europe, allowing you to experience the historical medieval streets first-hand. York is the must-visit destination for Harry Potter fans- “The shop that must not be named” features official HP merchandise.
The Shambles also houses a number of independent shops, cafés, bookshops, vintage clothing shops and tea rooms. I indulged myself with a rich “chocolate shot” at a chocolate shop and window shopped at the many vintage apparel shops. It was fascinating to see how the owners of all respective outlets made use of the little space in these shops.
Spark:York offers many street food options with a vibrant atmosphere- I tried some fried prawns and fries on the second floor which was affordable and flavourful. My evening was made ever merrier witnessing the street shows that happened along the way.
Travel time (train): approximately 2 hours 30 minutes
Travel time (coach): approximately 3-4 hours
A metropolitan port city with several attractions, second only to London.
The Liverpool Central Library, an award-winning library and the largest in the entire of Liverpool is free to visit for all students, with facilities including free wi-fi, IT and printing services and many study spaces. The library also has seasonal exhibitions; when I visited there was an exhibition celebrating the impact of the late 70’s Punk Rock music and as a fan of British rock music myself, I got to learn about the origins of the era that transformed the music scene.
Liverpool One is a massive open-air shopping complex, just a 15-minute walk from Liverpool Lime Street Station. It includes over 100 shopping brands and exquisite dining options; although the eating options were not within my budget as a student, I decided to retire to the Cow and Co Café where I enjoyed a halloumi sandwich and a cup of cappuccino. My day in Liverpool ended with a nice sunset by the riverside overlooking the whole city landscape.
Travel time (train): 1 hour
Travel time (coach): 1-2 hours
Known as the second capital of the UK, this city is worth visiting if you’re up for a more metropolitan feel of the UK. You can easily sit back with ease and enjoy the city views in the Manchester Metrolink trams; the largest tram system in the UK.
The Manchester Arena is right next to the Manchester Victoria station; although there are plenty of other smaller music venues if you like a more intimate concert experience. I had my first concert experience in the Manchester O2 Ritz, where I saw One Ok Rock, one of my childhood favourites. It also gave me the chance to meet many other fans of my favourite band and it was amazing to see music connecting us like this.
The Christmas festivities have also begun in this city and the Christmas market is much larger than the one in Leeds. Waffles wrapped with sweet fillings and chocolate drizzles made fresh from stalls is an absolute must!
Travel time (train): 3-4 hours
This breath-taking Scottish capital made me believe I was living on the set of Outlander, with almost the entire city retaining its gothic Victorian-era architecture. The perfect example is the Scott Monument overlooking the Princes Street Gardens, along with non-pretentious shops and pubs on cobbled streets as you walk along the narrow lanes of Old Town.
The Royal Mile, the busiest touristic street in the Old Town, is filled with street entertainers and buskers that make your mile-long walk even more enjoyable. This, along with the warm demeanour of the inhabitants, adds vibrancy to the city where the skies are always dark and cloudy.
Experience the exquisite interior and tranquillity of St. Giles Cathedral– there are guided tours that take you through the history of Scotland as well as choirs, art exhibitions, workshops and more. Just a silent sitting was cathartic as the (rare) sunlight loomed through the stained glass and the harmonies of the choir echoed through the cathedral.
Visit the student union website to find upcoming trips and more information! https://www.bradfordunisu.co.uk/day-trips