Oscar and his friends
A Colombian in Leicester
By Oscar Palma, Guest Contributor
Oscar Palma is studying at the University of Leicester and he's from the Colombian Capital of Bogota. Read his account of enjoying Leicester's pubs, learning from its multiculturalism and discovering kebabs!
From the perspective of a Colombian student coming from a developing country half way around the world, the logical options when choosing a city in England to live in would have usually been London, Manchester, Liverpool or Birmingham.
There the size, life, rhythm and variety of the cities might reflect the lifestyle of a seven million inhabitants monster like Bogotá, our capital.
This is the mentality of immigrants for whom the 'East Midlands' is an unknown concept, and Leicester - a blurry name at some random point in the map.
A Perfect Choice
However, once on English soil, I discovered Leicester could not be a better place for life as a student.
The size of the city is ideal; from the centre to the University it is only a 12 minute walk of distance, which radically contrasts with the stressful 90 minutes by bus, single way, it took me from the North of Bogotá to my University.
Friends' houses are generally at short distances, which is rarely the case in Bogotá where the use of cars, especially at nights, tends to be necessary.
Leicester's a multicultural city
Multiculturalism and Kebabs
Although a small city, the multicultural variety offered by Leicester is an incredible advantage for students.
It is possible to get more types of food here than anywhere in Colombia, where the word 'kebab' may be meaningless for the majority.
In a single course of 20 people at Leicester University, at least nine different nationalities were represented. This is extremely difficult to achieve in Bogotá, which ironically is 25 times bigger.
Trying out the nightlife in the city is one of the most enriching experiences of life in the Midlands, and probably one of the most contrasting with life in Colombia.
I was surprised to find a seven day per week tradition of going out. In the conservative Bogotá, partying from Thursday to Saturday would be seen by older generations as outrageous.
Although electronic music is growing in Colombia, it is still not common to enjoy a whole night of rock and chart songs, without dancing Salsa, Merengue or Vallenato; but the experience is motivating.
Oscar and his friends enjoying the beer
Pubs and Beers
Leicester also becomes relevant in an English experience for a Colombian because of the variety and activity of its pubs.
Although traditionally our society views itself as a beer consuming nation, only after being in Leicester have I realised how far behind we are in this matter.
We produce only four major brands of lager, all from the same brewery, with a virtual absence of ales.
By contrast, excellent pubs in Leicester with frequent festivals, offer an amazingly wide variety of lagers, ales, stouts, and ciders.
Stuck In the Middle
A final advantage of Leicester is its centrality. Close to every point in the country, good for catching all type of activities in the North and the South, perfect for a foreigner as a base for a conquest of all Britain.
Only one aspect I would change, the shops should be open until 20:00 or 21:00 like in Bogotá, not only until 17:00. where even some days they are opened all night, making life for customers easier.
last updated: 27/03/2008 at 11:49