Why should I choose Birmingham for my year abroad?
With four universities to its name, the town is thriving with students and young entrepreneurs, so you’ll find loads of places offering student discount. In terms of architecture, most buildings won’t float your boat, but you could head to Aston Hall for some Jacobean style and some pretty decent classical art to boot. Turrets included. The Barber Institute is an absolute must for all art fans, taking in Renaissance period works straight through to Modern art. The Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is equally popular, thanks to its impressive collection of art, including some pieces by Braque and Renoir, to name but a few. It’s also got a nice Edwardian tearoom, where you can munch on a scone or two, with some friends.
Chocaholics and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory fans unite in Birmingham to go to Cadbury World, the (now US-owned) British chocolatier’s factory. Here, you can look at the history, production and consumption of some of the finest chocolate to come out of the British Isles. Just make sure you don’t go overboad on the old cocoa bean, so you can manage a bite to eat later in one of the city’s many cafés and restaurants, whilst making the most of the shopping on offer. Because if there’s one thing Birmingham can offer, it’s got to be steady competition for London’s shopping title—just head to the Bullring to see what we mean! If you’re a little more interested in the scientific side of things, fret not, there’s something for you here too: Thinktank’s great, whatever your age and you can even enjoy a 3-D film in the IMAX on offer here.
Birmingham Botanical Gardens and Glasshouses is a nice bit of greenery found in such a concrete, industrial city. But that’s not it, Birmingham has also got something else up its sleeve: a theme park. Oh yes, Drayton Manor has no less than 35 rides to churn your stomach, just make sure you avoid it like the plague over school half-term.
One of the most famous Brum exports has to be the balti curry, so make sure you tuck into the dish at one of the many restaurants within the balti triangle (ask a cabbie to take you). You can also eat relatively cheaply at many establishments, but worth a particular mention are: Mr Egg (cheap egg dishes, some have to be tried to be believed!), The Green Room and The Kitchen Garden Café. Live music is a big thing here, make sure you visit Bar Fly, the Flapper and Firking and Symphony Hall (for something classical). Mainstream clubs like the Carling Academy, Oceana and Risa are forever popular, too. With such a large student population and such a booming nightlife, it comes as no surprise why so many choose Birmingham as their city of choice for studies, or work. Not the prettiest, but definitely one of the most multicultural places in Britain!