Last year, during my first year of Uni, I lived in Whitworth Park. I was warned of many things: that it was quiet, small, and ugly. But, most frequently of all, I was told I was so far away from the other students that I’d die of boredom by week three.
Others always said that I needed to get myself into Fallowfield, a veritable student oasis – a cornucopia of perfect nights out and flat parties with queues stretching down the corridor. I got the impression that simply by not living in Oak House, there was so much of the student experience that I would miss out on.
But that simply, to me, just wasn’t the case. My flatmates were great, and I had a full social life. I left for my 9am lectures at 8:50 and was – mostly – on time. But when the time came to look at new houses, there was only one place to look. You’ve probably guessed that I, inevitably, found myself in Fallowfield for year two.
And so far? Honestly? I don’t get it.
Instead of waking up twenty minutes before my lecture, I have to walk ten minutes to a bus stop, where I wait about ten minutes for a bus that isn’t full by the time it gets to me. I had to get a bus pass and that alone cost me nearly a month’s rent. About half the time, I end up standing on that bus for 20 minutes. Cheap and cheerful Lidl has been replaced by the eyewatering prices of Sainsbury’s. Don’t try to tell me this is an upgrade.
I will give you this – the pubs are quite good. When you can get a seat that is. It hasn’t happened yet, but I’m excited for the day it does. I’m already having nightmares about finding somewhere to watch the World Cup when it starts.
I do like living in a house instead of last year’s breeze-block den, but, then again, there are houses everywhere. I wouldn’t need to live in Fallowfield for a house, so it gets no points for that. We have a mouse though – that’s fun. In fact, the house is split down the middle on whether to try to tame it or not.
These are fairly small problems. To be more serious, what strikes me most is the total disconnect you feel from ‘Manchester’ as a place. There is no interaction with people who aren’t students – people who aren’t in the same bubble as you. Last year, living by the university, you could get to Fallowfield without much effort, but you also were under half an hour from the city centre. At Big Hands (the best pub in Manchester – don’t @ me), I frequently met people who were local to the area, who lived lives so distinctly different to my own.
This isn’t to say I hate students – of course I don’t – but there was something quite unique about the intersection of these two communities. You bonded with someone over a pint, and you had a little glimpse of their life, and then moved on. Fallowfield is so introspective, so concerned with navel-gazing, that you no longer feel part of a city. You are part of Fallowfield, not a part of Manchester anymore – and I think that’s quite sad.
All in all, I don’t love Fallowfield.
That’s not to say I don’t mind it, but overall, it seems like the cons balance out the pros. Here’s the thing though, I’m going to live here again next year. The FOMO of not living in Fallowfield is real, and the people I’m living with are going to want to stay here.
But if you’re a first-year, and you didn’t get Oak House, or Unsworth, or wherever your heart was set on, then don’t stress about it. And, when it comes to find a house for next year, please don’t feel you need to limit yourself to just looking in Fallowfield. Look in Withington – look in Rusholme too. Mostly, you get more for your money, and getting into Fallowfield is hardly difficult to do.
I’m not saying don’t live here. What I am saying is, it’s not the be-all and end-all. Just live with people you like (and people who do their washing up).