Your journey to the University

Leeds alumni share their memories

Parkinson Building with a bus pulling up before it

As a new term starts in Leeds, alumni look back on their journey to the University.

At the start of the autumn term, thousands of new students descend on Yorkshire to begin life as a Leeds student. By car, by bus, by train, even by plane, they travel from across the globe for their first taste of life in Yorkshire.

Read on, as Leeds alumni share their own memories of their journeys to University.

And it's not too late to share your own memories using our form, or join the discussion on our Facebook post.

How did you get to Leeds?

Tram runs by the Parkinson steps

Les Humphreys (Physics 1962)

Black and white photo of three men riding bikes and leaning on eachother

I cycled from my home in North London following the A1 all the way to Pontefract, taking the A639 through Castleford and on into Leeds.

I set out early, at 5am, to make sure I got there before dark. I probably stopped at least twice, at transport cafes, to get something to eat. arriving at my digs on Cardigan Rd at 6:30, having completed 200 miles. My luggage had been sent ahead, so all I had to carry was enough clothing to stay warm and dry. The weather was good, so no need for raingear.

Helen Smedley (Russian 1976)

We drove in the car, and we broke down on the M1!

Purity Koima (MSc Environment and Development 2016)

I flew to Leeds Bradford from Heathrow, which I'd flown to from Kenya. I finished the journey with a taxi ride. It was my first time leaving my home country of Kenya, and I didn't know that there was a tram to use at Heathrow Airport to get to the gate for my Leeds flight. I missed my flight which caused a lot of worry!

Anthony Ingham (Economics 1961)

I took the train and bus. I remember my journey when I came for interview the most. It was foggy and the train was late so I was very concerned I might miss the interview. I needn't have worried: a notice chalked on to a blackboard outside the Economics Department on Cavendish Road (this was 1957) said interviews were running late due to a broken down boiler! How times have changed in 66 years.

Najmi Shamim (Hospital Management Planning and Policy 1989)

I travelled from Pakistan to London by plane, then from London to Leeds by train.

Deepa Ellepola (Education 2013)

I flew from Sri Lanka to Manchester and took a train from there. I had expected someone from the British Council at the airport as I was a Hornby scholar, but as it was a Sunday no one was there to welcome me. One Bangladeshi guy helped me get to the train station. There I met another girl from China and we both came to Leeds and took a taxi to Headingley.

Today I saw a post on FB that my Chinese friend is back. Now I am in Headingley and doing my PhD at Leeds. Thank you to the University of Leeds for everything. I have loved my journey since 2013.  

Stacey Meakin (European Union Studies with Law 2004, LLM 2006)

I travelled by boat and car. I remember a packed car and being excited.

Helen Insley (Arabic and French 1993)

My journey involved car, boat, train and taxi.

A strange man sat next to me on the train and talked to me all the way to Leeds. He took my address and by the next day he had managed to find the phone number of my accommodation and he began calling intermittently and occasionally sending me letters with strange symbols in them. This was a life lesson in not to talk to strangers.

Arindam Basu (Textile Engineering 1991)

I travelled from India (Delhi) to London by air and then from London airport to Leeds by coach.           

I arrived quite late in December and found the department closed by the time I got there. There were no cell phones then (1987). I approached Union office and they guided me to nearest B&B and I stayed there that night. The next morning I came to University and everything got settled (on 22nd December).

Louise Janis (Textile Management 1979)

My dad drove from London to Leeds, taking me and my silver trunk full of clothes, bedding and all necessary equipment the first time and at the beginning of each of year, coming at the end of the year to take it all home again. In between I took the train from Kings Cross. The morning I awoke to leave home for the first time, Chicago were playing on the radio, "If you leave me now".  This tune always has a very special significance.

Ian Miller (Physics 1983)

I remember taking the train and not being sure where to go or what to do when I got there. It seemed a long way from the train station to Lupton Flats. Lots of other new students were wandering about with little idea what to do either.

I had some stuff with me on the train and my parents followed a few days later with the rest by car.

Thelma Sharman (History 1957)

I travelled by train and tram. At the tram stop I met Sheila Hopson and together we travelled to Westwood Hall. We became best friends and are still in regular touch 70 years later.

Andrew Edwards (PGCE Sciences 1988)

My train took five hours from Somerset. But Headingley was a great place to stay when I arrived.

Karen Zyck (English Literature 2001)

I arrived by plane from the US, and I remember being excited and nervous.

Philip Wade (Civil Engineering 1983)

I came with my parents in their self-converted Motorcaravan.   I remember feeling amazement with a bit of excitement that I was going to University, and being the first in the family to go and feeling trepidation as to what lay ahead.

Chris Watson (Chemistry 1974)

I used the train and bus. I had to carry a very heavy suitcase full of all my worldly possessions from Waterloo tube station to Kings Cross as I couldn't afford a taxi.

Witthawat Kasayapanant (Food Quantity and Innovation 2011)

I arrived by plane, and it felt a long way to the UK. I remember Leeds station.

Keith Dench (Education and Physical Education 1973)

I came by car. We hired a van to transport what belongings we had and camped in a field beside the A1 while we looked for somewhere to live. 

Fran Summers (Geography 2007)

We came by car. I remember pulling up to Boddington and recognising it, feeling nervous but excited.

Chris Seymour (Zoology 1980)

I came by train. I remember meeting a student who asked to borrow my copy of Sounds, and whose belongings seemed to be kept in several carrier bags. And being nervous.

Meera Davidson (Material Science and Engineering 2020)

I travelled in my parent's car. I was nervous and scared to begin the next stages of my life in a new place and get used to living away from supportive network I established.

Don Macleod (Electrical and Electronic Engineering 1982)

I visited the Electrical Engineering department, the things I saw there impressed me enough that I decided to do a PhD and spent the next 4 years at Leeds.

Pauline Dillworth (English 1975)

I travelled by train all on my own. I remember my mother saying "you have a good Scots tongue in your head" if I encountered anything I needed advice on. It was a big step for me as I had not been away from home totally alone, ever!

I was excited and nervous in equal measures. I remember seeing the big cooling towers and industrial plants which were all new, threatening and alien. I was used to the soft south but was making this journey from Edinburgh, where we had recently moved. I had never been to Yorkshire. I remember thinking that the bridge at Leeds station was dark and strange and I wasn't used to all the traffic. But I needn't have worried as no major problems arose and everyone I met was really, really helpful and friendly - which is still the same of Leeds decades later. The people are amazing!

I had to make sure my huge black trunk (containing teddy bear and record collection as well as essential clothes) was safely delivered.  Then I made my way by taxi to the University and the imposing Parkinson building. Eventually I made it to the University flat in Clarendon Place. I was to share this with a textile design student I had never met. I had never shared a room before either. She rocked up a day or so later wearing a long velvet maxi coat, a Juliet cap and a guitar slung over her shoulder - having not long been on a trip to India!

Richard Savory (German and French 1976)

I took the train from Oxford, changing at Birmingham New Street. My dad took me to Oxford station with two heavy suitcases, sufficient for my first year at Leeds. I struggled over platforms at New Street for the Leeds connection. When I arrived at Leeds, I found a taxi to take me to Bodington Hall.

"Alright love, where to?" said the driver. It was my first time north of Birmingham and I wasn't prepared for a man calling me "love"!

Michael Day (English 1974)

We came in my mum's Ford Cortina Estate. I remember she cried when we said goodbye.

Juan Vasquez (Management Studies 2007)

I took a plane from Peru, not knowing anything about the city or about the UK. It was my first time in the country and I took a train from London to Leeds.                        

Christina Emery (French with German 2002)

We drove. I was extremely excited. Before the drive over, we'd just gone shopping in Wilkinsons to buy basics for the kitchen (I would be in self catering halls - Devonshire). I couldn't wait to move in!

Nur Thalib (Chemistry 2013)

I arrived by plane, and I remember everything seemed extremely green.

Witoon Keoma (MSc Construction Engineering 1981)

Jo, an engineer from Oxford who I was working with in Hull, gave me a lift from Hull to James Bailey.

Mary Fisk (nee Seeley) (History 1988)

I took a train from London. I had far too many suitcases. When we got to Leeds station, there were minibuses to take groups of students to various halls of residence - everyone squeezed in, plus bags, plus assorted parents.    

Marie Pastoret (English 2008)

It was an awfully long journey because we had to fly to London and then take the National Express to Leeds            

Helen Jones (English Language and Literature 1979)

I came by train from Gidea Park, Essex. I was very pleased to find the welcome stall in the station having travelled alone. As a Londoner I was bewildered to be told to catch the bus past Woodhouse 'Moor' and 'Hyde Park Corner', but I was relieved that my five heavy bags were delivered by the welcoming party.

Angela Cliffe (Music 1995)

I travelled in my dad’s car. I remember talking about a motorway where there was a farmhouse in the central reservation - 10 seconds later we drive past it on M62!

Rafael Donnelly (Law 1980)

We travelled by car from Weybridge (Surrey) to Leeds via Liverpool. My parents drove me and my brother up to our respective universities. We called in at a Liverpool University Hall of Residence first, to drop my brother off, and I was then driven to my Leeds University Hall of Residence (Cliff House - no longer in existence). It was very nice accommodation and I remember meeting the friendly bunch of "northeners" that shared my corridor, and thinking I am going to be alright here.

Ruben Gonzalez (PhD Communication Studies 2012)

I came by coach from my hometown, then took a plane to London and then another flight to Leeds. It was a very long trip from Mexico to the UK, but I was really excited.

Carla Ross (Music 2018)

I arrive by plane with a lot of nervous excitement. I remember the feeling of being able to be independent. I loved learning music in a different setting where it is valued.

Martin Gill  (Medicine 1984)

I sent a trunk ahead to Sadler Hall. I then travelled by myself: Dover to Charing Cross by train;  across London by Underground; Euston to Leeds by train; Leeds station to Sadler Hall by bus. I carried a big rucksack, small rucksack and my violin. That took all day. Trains were much slower in 1978.

Maggy Chatterley (Textile Design 1970)

I was excited as I travelled by train. I'd got in through Clearing system and all Halls were full so no idea where I would sleep!

Karen Madacsi (English & Theatre Studies 1994)

I was driven by my mum and her partner. I remember feeling nervous and excited, and like Leeds was a million miles away from... Birmingham!!!

Andrew Loughran (Medicine 1963)

I came by bicycle. There were three difficult climbs on the ride from Huddersfield.

Catherine Trees (Geography 1981)

My parents drove me. I was impressed with the squirrels in the garden at Tetley Hall when my Dad parked the car!

Martin Clark (English Language and Literature 1985)

We drove in along York Road on the east side of the city. I remember the run down nature of city centre in 1982, and the way it gave way to the leafy suburb of Headingley where my accommodation was.

Colin Nugent (Botany then Bacteriology and Food science 1972)

I travelled by car. I remember going up the M6 and then across the Pennines via Skipton. The M62 didn't exist in 1967!

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