When I was younger, I dreamed about traveling the world. While there’s still so many places that I want to go, I’ve been lucky to have been able to travel quite a bit during my time in medical school. My program allowed me to complete my first year of medical school in Newcastle Upon Tyne, England. For those who haven’t heard of Newcastle – don’t worry, I hadn’t heard of it before either – it’s a city about 3 hours north of London and 3 hours south of Scotland by train. It’s a vibrant university city with a lot of great restaurants, nightlife, and it’s the land of the Geordies. The term Geordies refers to the locals living in Newcastle, who love to party and who’s accents are nothing like that heard in the rest of England. Think of a mix of a British and Scottish accent and that’s what the Geordie accent sounds like. For those of you who are curious, you can hear the accent by googling and watching a clip of Geordie Shore (the Newcastle equivalent of Jersey Shore haha).
There is, in fact, a shore in Newcastle! In the area of Tynemouth you can find Long Sands Beach; it may be windy and a little chilly (it is England after all), but it sure is a sight for sore eyes and a great place to escape the busyness of downtown.
There’s also a market located in Tynemouth that’s fun to stroll around in and peruse through the variety of knick knacks and produce.
I lived closer to the city centre of Newcastle, right in the middle of all the action. Located within walking distance was Eldon Square Shopping Centre, Grainger Market (with booths selling fresh meat, fish, produce, as well as specialty stores and places to grab a quick bite), and Grey’s Monument (as seen in the image below). During November, they also have a Christmas Market that they hold on Grey Street by Grey’s Monument. The market sells homemade goods and various cultural foods. The paella was a big hit among my friends and I, as well as the fudge – my friend Emi actually spend a whole 10 pounds on fudge one day!
Restaurants and nightlife were easily accessible from the city centre too and options for places to go were abundant. One of my favourite places was The Botanist, a rather inconspicuous place from the outside (basically just a door without much indication of what was behind it). The inside, however, was magical. The bar was built around a tree, which stood tall under a domed glass ceiling. The drinks were good there, but I think the ambiance of the bar is what really made it one of my favourite places to go to.Some other places that my friends and I loved to go while we lived there were Za Za Bazaar, a restaurant buffet that served food from all around the world, and Tiger Tiger, a bar and club that had several different themed rooms – there was a room for whatever type of music, style of dancing, or mood you were in!
While we definitely partied like the Geordies, I also made sure I got the full English experience by going for afternoon tea at the Jesmond Dene House. Located a short cab ride away from the city centre, this place really embodied the charm of the English countryside. The afternoon tea there was very good. I remember really enjoying the sandwiches that came out on the fancy little trays, which is saying a lot considering that I’m not much of a sandwich person haha. Afternoon tea is such a fun outing and definitely something I recommend doing if you’re ever in England.
Another thing that’s big in England is football…and not the American type with the pigskin! During my year there, I went to two games. The first was at St. James Park, the stadium in Newcastle. For the second game, some friends and I had rented a car and driven to Sunderland. Newcastle’s team, Newcastle United, has had a longstanding rivalry with Sunderland’s team and it was very evident by the electricity at this game! When we first arrived, we were greeted by police on horseback who were prepared for potential riots (apparently this has happened in the past). While thankfully nothing bad happened during this game, the crowds were still wild. We were definitely outnumbered by Sunderland fans, but it was so much fun to feel the energy of the crowd and to hear the cheers fill the air. Some of them we’re so catchy, my friends and I would join in regardless of what team they were supporting haha.
I loved my time in Newcastle. The city was so alive and there was so much to do there. The best part, though, was the friends that I made. I lived in residence while I was there and I’m so thankful for the flatmates that I was placed with and the people in my program. These people have become my lifelong friends and confidants. I look back on my time in Newcastle with so much fondness and nostalgia (and I’ll definitely go back one day!) but they’re probably the best things that Newcastle could have given me <3