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Living in Norwich
The University of East Anglia is in Norwich, Norfolk’s only city. That said, it’s a pretty good city. Students rate their experience of the city highly, due to its shops, night-life and the small-town-community-feel.
Norwich crams a lot of activity into a very manageable space, while still keeping the relaxed attitude you’d expect from a county that is half seaside.
In Norwich itself there are two big shopping complexes, Castle Mall and Chapelfield, and the buzzing pedestrianised area around them caters to the shopping needs of the entire county, including a large covered market that runs six days a week. There are several cinemas in the area, two good-sized theatres, and the Norwich Arts Centre holds exhibitions and smaller music and comedy gigs. Going up the slope between the two malls, you’ll pass the cathedral and the contrastingly modern Forum building, where the library and regional branch of the BBC is based. The big amphitheatre just outside often contains different types of performers, or public events.
The Tombland area (not nearly as creepy as it sounds) is a great hotspot for restaurants and bars of all kinds. It also backs onto Prince of Wales road where you’ll find a cluster of nightclubs, although there are a few more at the Waterfront. You might be interested to know that Norwich has the highest number of pubs per square mile in the country, so you’ll never have to worry about finding yourself short of a pint. For history buffs, Norwich Castle sits on a high mound near the main shopping area, and contains a museum full of bits and bobs that go back to Roman times and beyond, including one of the biggest stashes of Iron Age gold and silver jewellery in Europe.
Now, about that seaside we mentioned. The bottom half of Norfolk is up against it’s neighbour Suffolk, but the top edge is all coastline. The unique geography of the north Norfolk coast means that it gets a 70 mile stretch which is mainly soft sandy beaches (with the occasional gravelly one thrown in, just for variety). Holiday locations here range from tiny villages with relatively untouched beaches like Holkham and West Runton to more commercial towns like Cromer, Hunstanton and Great Yarmouth. These bigger ones have funfairs, piers and seafronts, but either make a good day out depending on your taste.
Norfolk is also famous for the Broads, a large network of man-made rivers dug out for farming. These lie between the city and the coat at Great Yarmouth. Even if you can’t drive a boat yourself, there are several tourist cruises that can take you through the amazing scenery. Or, if you’re not a swimmer, another great way to get around the county (and the city!) is by bicycle. Norfolk is ridiculously flat, to the point where finding a decent hill for sledding in winter is quite a challenge, and with such a busy city centre you’re probably better off taking the bus or making the trip by pedal power.
What about sport?
- Football: The local team are the Norwich Canaries. The city will turn an alarming combination of yellow and green on match days, and there’s a big rivalry between the Canaries and the Ipswich ‘Tractor Boys’ from neighbouring Suffolk.
- Hockey: It’s oddly popular here. Maybe it’s all that flat ground, but there are five field hockey teams, most of them pretty successful.
- Skiing/Swimming: This is one for you to try. Near the edge of the city is a big dry ski slope, and the broad that runs behind it is used for scuba diving.
- Bus: There are Park & Ride services running from points all around the city, all heading into the main bus stop at the city centre. The one you’ll probably use most is the 25/25A/X25 which go from campus to the city centre, then on to other locations.
- Taxi: ABC Taxis
- Train: Trains to London Liverpool Street run every 30mins, and the trip takes about 2hrs.