It normally takes leaving to work out what you like about the place you left behind. For the last year Boaz Adelekan, a member of the Blueprint Collective, has been a student at the University of Warwick near Coventry. If you think someone from Brent might feel alienated in Coventry think again...
Coventry is a very interesting place, with and without its university students. It’s located in the West Midlands but is central to many lively events, a newly refurbished transport museum and it hosts two respectable universities. I’ve been studying at one of them, the University of Warwick, for the last year.
Wembley High Road looks quite different to the centre of Coventry, but although the streets look different, I haven’t felt like an outsider. Warwick University has lots of international students from across the world. My flatmates were from Oxford, Japan and China; everyday the kitchen played host to all kinds of cuisine. In general though, at university, similar people are magnetically drawn together.
There’s so many people to choose from and it’s easy to find a pool of like-minded people. I found myself appreciating my culture more as I met more Nigerians, some of whom were international students. My main highlight of first year was Afrofest which was an event that celebrated Afro-Caribbean culture. There were a variety of performers such Afro-B and Sona and I was able to do a collaborated spoken word performance with four other students. Brent had kick-started this appreciation of my own and other cultures but, going to university here has enabled me to explore this appreciation further.
You might think that that Coventry is the sort of place that would be unwelcoming to people of diverse cultures but this isn’t not always the case. Coventry during term time feels like a slightly less diverse version of Brent - the majority of people from ethnic minority backgrounds in the city are students. Walking down the streets of Far Gosford is similar to walking down the streets of Brent. The barber shop reminds me of Hospycare near Blackbird Hill, the Coventry market triggers my memory of John Line, the good old corner shop ensures I don’t forget my local Costcutter. Despite the fact you’re in Coventry, there’s so many avenues to lead you back to Brent.
Overall, I have loved my first-year experience. Despite going to a big Brexit voting place coming from a borough which had a big remain vote, I did not feel left out. Perhaps branching out has subconsciously made me do all I can to connect to my roots. Although it’s 100 miles away, I haven’t felt that far from home.