You've been in Birmingham for a few weeks. You’ve settled in and made connections with other international students and Birmingham locals too. You’re comfortable in the city and you know your way around, but the excitement of moving to a new city is yet to fade. Your English is strong enough that you’re able to navigate through the city and engage in amusing and inspiring conversations with friends.
With 80,000 students, more canals than Venice and the home to Cadbury’s chocolate factory, Birmingham is a unique and inviting English city and you feel lucky that you get to experience living here as a student. But how do you spend a typical day when you don’t have any classes?
Morning coffee and a bite to eat
You wake up early without an alarm, tired from a fun night of hanging out with friends. You’re ready to start the day, but first it’s time for a coffee stop! Birmingham is filled with a variety of quaint and relaxing or trendy and buzzing coffee shops – to suit whatever mood you are in. The city is relatively easily to get around, which makes Birmingham great for students. Maybe you hop on a rentable scooter, or maybe you decide to go somewhere near your student accommodation to save time.
You might want to check out Boston Tea Party, a popular café that's part of a small, family-run chain. Guests can enjoy coffee, loose-leaf tea, all-day breakfasts and alcohol later in the day. Other popular coffee shops include Urban, an indie coffee shop that set the blueprint for Birmingham’s coffee culture. If you’re looking for somewhere that combines music and coffee, head down to Café Artum. Café Artum is a popular spot since it doubles as a record shop and bar and venue. Whether you want to hear soul DJs, browse some vinyl or enjoy a humble Sunday roast, this is a gem located in Birmingham’s Snow Hill business district. If you’re a cat lover, you may choose to visit the Kitty Café, where you can enjoy a meal deal or an afternoon deal with friends in the company of some friendly felines.
An afternoon with the books, gallery-browsing then shopping
After finishing your coffee and catching up with friends, you decide to take some time by yourself to study at Victoria Square. It’s a warm day and you sit on the steps while reading your notes and watching people pass by. The square is known as the centre of Birmingham and was named after Queen Victoria in 1901. Its pedestrianised with beautiful architecture and sculptures around the fountain, so after a short rest, you feel rejuvenated and ready to carry on with your day.
Birmingham’s Museum and Art Gallery is the next stop. Open since 1885, there’s over 40 galleries to explore including fine art, ceramics, metalwork and jewellery. It is known for extensively collecting paintings from the 14th-21st century and coins from ancient times to the Middle Ages. This is a great way to spend the afternoon, especially when Birmingham’s weather disappoints!
You fancy a look at Birmingham’s markets, so you head to the Bullring shopping centre. The building is famous for the Selfridges section which resembles a spaceship. You can also have a look at the bull, the symbol of Birmingham.
The 6-tonne sculpture was made by Laurence Broderick and there is always a queue of people waiting to take a picture with it. After taking your picture with the bull, you head to the market to check out the fresh fruit, vegetables and then head to the high-end shops in the Mailbox. There is something for everyone!
It’s time to eat!
After a busy day it’s time for some food! You ponder what you would like to eat, Vietnamese, Mexican, or maybe pizza. Birmingham has everything you are looking for.
Eat Vietnam, Stirchley
Located in Stirchley, Birmingham’s ‘craft beer neighbourhood’ Eat Vietnam is a delightful, independent restaurant that attracts locals and tourists alike. Eat Vietnam is fairly small so might not be the best option if you have a large group, but the pungent flavours and lively atmosphere makes it a favourite choice for many.
A La Mexicana, Smethwick
Enjoy the authentic taste of Mexican tradition – right in Birmingham’s Smethwick. The smells, flavours and colourful interiors make this much-loved neighbourhood restaurant a great option for your evening meal.
@Pizza, Grand Central
Maybe you are in the mood for a good old pizza. If this is the case, @Pizza has you covered. Enjoy a fresh and filling dinner, hand-crafted in front of your eyes with a choice of 53 ingredients to achieve your perfect combo.
After a bite to eat you’re recharged and ready to continue the night! What next?
Live music in Birmingham
Another element that makes Birmingham a great a city to study abroad is the vibrant and attractive cultural scene. As one of the youngest cities in Europe, it’s easy to fill your schedule with fun activities when you have time off studying. From the theatre, to live music, to going to the cinema, visiting museums and seeing some art – Birmingham student life is buzzing.
There is so much to see and do every day of the week, including live music, theatre and art. It’s easy to fill your days and evenings. Maybe on this particular evening you feel like visiting Digbeth Dining Club, one of England’s leading street food operators. Every Thursday, Friday and Saturday, the railway arches in Digbeth are filled with multiple street food vendors. This is a great spot for delicious food and local live music and DJs. On this evening, you decide to see a small indie band and enjoy a beverage with friends. A great end to a lovely day!
As you can see, there’s lots of elements that contribute to an exciting student life in Birmingham. If you’ve chosen to do an English course in Birmingham, your experience will be enhanced by the buzzing atmosphere and social life – and this means lots of chances to practise your English skills!