As long as I got you…there’s no place I’d rather be

ABER PROM FROM CONSTIAS YOU CAN tell, the top lists on Spotify have been played a bit too regularly of late. Well, with the latest influx of Freshers having had a chance to settle down, and probably currently debating whether Aberystwyth is really for them or not – I clearly remember a fair few people dropping out or changing uni in my first year – its seems worth putting the old question out there: is Aberystwyth a better place to study than a city? I’m not talking education-wise, I’m purely thinking in terms of location – whether the university is worth attending anymore due to low results on league tables is a debate that shouldn’t be touched with a 20 foot barge pole.

Some people would argue that Aberystwyth is their nightmare – a microcosm you can’t escape; even if you had enough money to, transport takes forever. But even though we’re riding the league tables disastrously low this year (93rd in The Times) the ‘Aber Bubble’ engulfs everyone into a huge university community that you don’t get anywhere else. Much as the pride that comes with attending a more prestigious university would be lovely, it would very likely lead to sick-up-the-ass-itus; in Aberystwyth it’s relatively difficult to remain pompous when the town itself is a breath of fresh air. Aberystwyth is a place where you can get away with relatively anything and, unless your degree demands it, you can remain oblivious of world affairs and get a decent degree without needing to know the innermost workings of life. Bliss. Conversely, if getting involved with the world is ‘your thing’, then Aber provides a good forum for expressing your views, such as the student paper or the various other media outlets in town.

Additionally, the Aberystwyth community is exceptionally close-knit, meaning your ideas will get spread around to far more people. Yes, okay, so private business will also get spread around, but that’s a learning curve that comes with any university experience – everyone messes up. Regarding transport, although many would love to be able to take washing home on a regular basis, that is not what shipping off to university and being independent is about. If you were possibly able to get home faster than the ‘bullet train’ to Shrewsbury (two and a half hours, if you’re lucky) then growing as a person would be next to impossible – relying on parents too much is never a good thing.

Alumni have, for many years, sought to return to Aberystwyth to relive glory days, settle down or to visit. One of the many reasons behind this is the seaside, and although the weather has been less than BBQ worthy of late, it remains a peaceful place to live and study; where troubles wash away with the tide. Romanticism seeps out of Aberystwyth all year round (yes, even when there’s a ‘storm’ raging on) from the beautiful sea, to the views from the tops of the Welsh hills and beyond. Seaside towns have been drawing people in for hundreds of years and it’s no surprise Aberystwyth has 4/5 stars on whatuni.com.

There are a thousand and one reasons to choose Aberystwyth as a place to study over a city university but there just would not be room for them all. Cost immediately springs to mind – maybe we get short changed on things like library fines and occasionally food, but overall Aberystwyth is one of the cheapest places to study. Last year we saw rent skyrocket and my year got the worst of every deal it seems, but this year rent has dropped since the latest addition to the flock of residential halls, meaning cheap and cheerful is back on the menu. If loans seem stretched at present, just look to city students where rent leaves little behind to enjoy the night with – let alone survive off of more than Heinz and Super Noodles. London students rarely have massive nights out – it’s just way too expensive – meanwhile in Aberystwyth £5 has created many a messy student. Plus nowhere is too far from home. Speaking of never being too far away, for those in town the university is twenty minutes walk (albeit uphill) and shops are ten at most. Transport around Aberystwyth is fairly decent considering how small the town is, and getting the bus to avoid rain will cost the same as a weekday VK. Having all the necessary amenities so close is often taken for granted. Let’s not forget that since so many students are crammed into a small town with limited places to drink going out is something you can do alone (you’ll always bump into someone familiar) or with any number of people.

Aberystwyth's sunset  Photo - Rebecca James

Aberystwyth’s sunset
Photo – Rebecca James

Having very little to do is often the focus of conversations about Aberystwyth, yet very few students aren’t involved in a university club or society. With such a broad range of activities or social groups it is hard to say where alone time could possibly factor into uni life. For example, as a seaside town there’s never a great distance to travel for various activities such as surfing, rock climbing, hiking, caving, kayaking, rowing, sailing…the list is endless, and not just for seaside activities.

Aberystwyth holds the hearts of many graduates, students and locals; not just because it’s blocked off from the real world, but because small town blues never stick around for too long.