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Why London for Graduates?

15th May 2013

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I will never forget the day before my 18th birthday. That particular time in your life is so important: the world is opening up to you as you progress little by little into adulthood. With four offers to study various forms of Language and Linguistics at university, this was certainly the case for me. I could finally leave the small city of Oxford for the North and beyond, and I could not wait to explore all that it had to offer.

That evening, I was in my last ballet performance, and fell into conversation with a retired couple in the foyer before the show. At first, I assumed form their accent that they were from the South, but when I mentioned that one of my university choices was in Edinburgh, they told me that they too were from there. I was baffled. All my Scottish family on my dad’s side have strong accents, but theirs had been bleached right out of them. This was totally new.

The next shock quickly followed when I mentioned my course choice. They replied, “So I suppose you’ll be looking to work in London then.” London, to me at that age, was the big, bustling centre of the rude and impersonal South that I so wished to leave. It was the last thing I ever wanted.

I ended up in Liverpool, studying English and German, all the while lapping up the unique Merseyside culture. I’d always wanted to be a teacher, which was handy, as there is no centre for that profession. Scotland had always been my ultimate goal but then I met my boyfriend, who has changed my life in more ways than one: as his course is three years long, he is currently seeking out jobs and internships for the end of his degree, the majority of which seeming to be in London. Any other placements in any other city don’t seem to cut it in his eyes. At the moment it looks like I, with the flexible career-choice, will be bound to follow.

Having spent my year abroad this year working in cold, brisk, and blunt Vienna, doing hour-long commutes from one side of the city to the other, I can safely say that Big City Life is not all it’s cracked up to be. Nevertheless, I am grateful for this opportunity attached to my degree, as with it I’ve been able to explore those unknown nooks and crannies of Eastern and Middle Europe - all of which have been more than worth it. They may not have the ‘fein’ (fine) grandiose of Vienna, but they too have a homely charm and a great heritage, and are well worth exploring.

So why is it that thousands of graduates flock to London in hopes of success, giving it their hearts, souls, and more energy than they possess, warping themselves into slaving work-machines when they need not necessarily do so? There are so many more interesting places out there, not even very far from our own doorsteps -why does the capital have such a draw? Surely spreading our workforce will alleviate the still very much prominent North-South divide, and help the regeneration of our once industrial areas like Liverpool?

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