20 Reasons I’m staying in Aber

Let’s face it. Aberystwyth is a beautiful place, if it didn’t have at least say… 20 things going for it, none of us would ever have repeatedly made the long arduous journey through the baron motorway-less highlands of Welshpool, Newtown and the bustling tourist trap that is Dovey Junction. With that in mind, I’ve racked my newly graduated pre-frontal cortex to come up with my 20 definitive reasons for sticking around in Aber, that anyone who’s been here for a few years, a few decades or even just five minutes will probably be able to relate to.*

 *Discounting the fact that I’m doing a Masters degree and that my girlfriend, mates and stuff are all still here.

Llandinam - Tomos Nolan

Llandinam – Tomos Nolan

1. Aber is small. As locations for universities go, it’s definitely in the lower end of the league tables for size, population and miles to walk between lectures… or anywhere for that matter. Sure we’re missing out on some retail opportunities, but there are enough 24 hours computer rooms, the Student/Staff ratio is good, (19:4) and there’s literally no need to get a taxi anywhere.

2. The same could be said about the pub though. Obviously, when I say “the pub”, I mean, any one of the apparent 52 in Aber – one for every week of the year. This means in a town the size of Aber, I can literally close my eyes, pick a direction and find myself two minutes later sipping down a cold one wondering what I was supposed to be doing with my day. This year I intend to have a few in a couple I’ve not even set foot in over all my time here, and that’s going to be a good day.

3. Which brings me to my next point. It’s cheap… and not in an ‘overly self tanned lycra mini skirt and a kebab’ kind of way, (for the most part) but for a genuinely good value night out. Granted, it has to be after three years in the same establishments, but it has the charm to just about not get too old or repetitive. Vodka Tuesdays and Gin Thursdays, Mad Fridays, Pound Parties, Premier League and football deals, £1.25 pint Wednesdays, 2-4-1 Thursdays, 2-4-1 Cocktails and a hell of a lot more to be found within spitting distance from each other. Tidy.

4. Which brings me to a cracking takeaway. I once spent a night out in Leeds and walked more than two miles to find a kebab. A problem nobody has ever had in Aberystwyth. With the beauty of almost every late night establishment within ten feet of a takeaway, I’m hard pressed to resist.

5. Sticking with the food, though not for long as I’m actively salivating; barbeques on the beach have been some of the best barbeques I’ve had. Summer evenings spent on a beach around a fire, chicken wings, burgers, sausages and some salad for your vegan friend and surrounded by mates is constantly a moment that makes me amazed I ever thought about applying to Sheffield or Sunderland. I’ll remember them when I’m crunching numbers in a cream Ikea furnished office I share with 20 colleagues for the next third of my life, so I’ll be sure to fit a few more in.

6. Meat is expensive though, as your vegan friend will no doubt tell you. And before we go into the heated debate concluding in agreement that The Smiths’ Meat is Murder album was at best an 8/10, I remind everybody that I in fact, got some amazing deals on burgers by visiting the local supermarket late in the day, because there are some amazing deals to be had there, and adding a cheap staple to your meal will make a big difference to your weekly budget… and in turn, your Saturday hangover.

7. That being said, Aberystwyth is home to some of the finest butchers, bakers, candlestick makers and other foodsmen of the like, and when I have the time to shop around them, (bearing in mind the first reason I’m staying) I do. You’ll get a better quality of produce and for some pretty good value.

8. It’s not hard to see why Aber is home to quality produce though. Finding yourself at university with an hour long break, a meal deal and the comfort of a picnic bench outside the library and Arts Centre; take one full 360 degree turn to have a look around, and appreciate the place you’ve chosen to come to University. As places of outstanding natural beauty go, it’s definitely closer to Yosemite and Peak District than Leeds or London are, at least visually anyway. The sun sets over the water every night and every night I could watch it. The starlings, though majorly responsible for the amount of shit icing the parked vehicles on the seafront, form a murmuration of absolute fucking wonder. Don a hat and watch them as the sun goes down.

Aberystwyth Seafront from Constitution Hill  - Tomos Nolan

Aberystwyth Seafront from Constitution Hill – Tomos Nolan

9. And I know it’s sticking with the beauty bandwagon, but Constitution Hill deserves it’s own number. A hill of cracking fortitude, and this comes from a man who arrived from the Peak District – Consti is a cracking walk, it’s got a working cliff railway, bowling, pool, various summer activities and it’s got one of the best views of town around. And if you ever get bored of Consti, Pen Dinas is only a short walk away too. Both serve as the perfect cliff edge for anxious key throwers and thrill seeking paragliders alike.

10. Throwing my keys or myself off the edge of a cliff isn’t exactly something I feel a great need to do. Thankfully, the majority of Aberystwyth agrees. In fact, I’d say the thrill seeking nutjobs were in the minority. Aber’s got everything it needs for a bustling student population. Starting high brow, and working our way down to the gutter: The Arts Centre. It’s one of the main attractions for Aberystwyth, and literally, the entirety of Wales too. It offers everything from a cinema showing not only blockbusters, but many art house and indie films, classics and even film festivals and live event screenings; it offers theatre from Shakespeare to dance and musicals, art galleries and exhibitions, music from the Kaiserchiefs to the Opera and the biggest comedians working today.

11. Comedy is huge in Aberystwyth, partly due to the allure of the Arts Centre which draws in names like Jimmy Carr and Milton Jones to name but two, but the Student’s Union also hosts a Comedy Works, picking some of the best upcoming talent, throwing it in our faces for cheap and then allowing us to four years later tell our friends we knew them before they were famous. Joe Lycett, Matt Richardson and Josie Long. Tell your friends.

12. The Commodore is the local cinema though. It offers student prices and extremely normal prices on popcorn and drinks. It even has a bar, so you can get a pint in for the next three terrible Star Wars films. I love it.

13. A nice quiz. I love a good quiz in a pub me. It’s a quiet night for the most part, and there’s nothing quite like walking into somewhere with your head held high, pint in hand ready to annihilate a quiz, because you’re a student of Aberystwyth University, and you KNOW YOUR SHIT… only to walk out with a mark which you’d barely scrape a third with on a module paper. Fun though! And on the odd occasion I do win, I’ll try not to rub it in too much.

14. Being blind drunk, whilst looked on by society as a thing to be demeaned… I feel is an acceptable position to be in a few times a year in Aberystwyth; especially if you’re wearing a mankini or golfing attire. Socials and nights out that go too far are something I won’t get to do much of after University, so whilst I wouldn’t wholeheartedly endorse a throbbing three day hangover in which I have no clue what happened after the third Admiral or Gaa… I’d certainly enjoy to have the memory… hazy as it is.

15. The amount of activities available in Aber is outrageous for a town of this size. Sports and Societies tend to flourish and being involved in them has made my years here so much more enjoyable. I’ve banged on about enough, but I’d never imagine sticking to academia on its own when Aber has this much to offer. I mean… Octopush?!

Varsity - Tomos Nolan

Varsity – Tomos Nolan

16. Aber actually does have a good enough alternative scene, if you know where to look. Sure Pier and Whynot have much of it covered, but the Union is looking to start some more alternative nights, the Angel is well known for hosting Buzz and 80s nights. Rummers and Varsity host good open mic nights and the Arts Centre has been known to host a good night once in a while too. I’m keeping my eyes peeled.

17.Freshers week. As somebody who was recently faced with the prospect of joining the real world but saved by a Masters degree, savouring a Freshers will be great. This is my last Freshers, and it’s always a good week. Everywhere is busy and the town has a great friendly atmosphere. Meet new people, have a beer and be generally optimistic about how the year will turn out, at least for a week.

18.Craft. I love a good trip around Craft. I try not to get too sucked in and just buy a mirror or a picture of a dog playing poker for no reason, but then, I do like to find a reason. It’s good cheap recycled furniture, pretty much from students, to students. And they do a student discount. Bosh.

19. One of the reasons I say number 14 is acceptable on occasion is Aber’s, and Dyfed-Powys’ crime statistics. You’re more likely to be carried home by a bunch of students or put on a nice comfortable bench until the morning than you are to be mugged and sodomized should you have had one too many. Try going to Leeds and playing that one.

20. Another reason I say it’s acceptable, is that once a year, an event presents itself that raises tensions to unbearable levels of raucousness and shouting. To an Englishman who had kept one eye on the Six Nations before coming to university in a welsh town with a sizable ratio of Englishmen, I was immediately drawn. Watching Wales vs England in an atmosphere with equal crowds is just about as good as it gets without being inside the Millenium/Twickenham. I wouldn’t want to watch it anywhere else.