Words By Bryony Rule
For whatever reasons you decided to come to Sussex, its proximity to the city of Brighton was likely a huge pull factor. Renowned for its diversity, vibrancy and anything-goes disposition, Brighton has captured countless of us under its spell.
At the advent of Spring term, another national lockdown has meant that many students have remained in their hometowns or countries, away from Brighton, the city they love and chose to spend (at least) three years of their life in. Whilst we may be presently unable to mooch through the eclectic lanes or devour salty chips on the pier, we can reflect on all the things we cherish about our wonderful city, and look forward to a time where we can enjoy it once more.
The perfect remedy to university and life stresses, Brighton seafront provides the backdrop for many a Sussex students’ time in the city. From the balmy summer sun drying saltwater into your skin as you enjoy tinnies with friends, to being swathed in a winter scarf and hat, watching the tumultuous waves crash against the west pier, the sea is a constant, reassuring presence for Brighton inhabitants. Countless evenings are spent on the pebbles waiting for the sky to be streaked orange, pink and golden, as the sun descends behind the iconic silhouetted ruins of the old pier. There is a comforting sense of unity at this time every evening, as people from all walks of life gather on the beach to watch day transition to night. In the autumn and winter months, faces tilted upwards, we watch in awe as thousands of starlings congregate around the pier to dart and swirl in elaborate patterns, seamlessly choreographed and coordinated as they dance against the dusk sky.
For Sussex students, weekends are invariably spent wandering the lanes, snooping for undiscovered treasures and feasting the senses on the hustle and bustle of the colourful cobbled streets. No two visits to the lanes are ever the same; new street art appears overnight, every mooch down the North Laine seems to offer a new independent shop filled with unique trinkets, and there is always a new alleyway to be found after taking a wrong turn – still so easy to do, even after three years of exploration.
Beach, shopping and charming architecture aside, Brighton would be nothing without its people, who enrich the fabric of everyday life in the city. From the buskers who inhabit every other street corner, to the barista at your local coffeeshop, barman at your preferred watering hole, and infamous characters of Brighton we all know and love, Brighton is brimming with diversity, community spirit and friendly faces. Brighton is progressive, exemplified by its Green Party political representation and frequent demonstrations for human and environmental justice. People you meet are always willing to chat, debate and educate; Brighton, for many, has been a place to expand horizons and outlooks, to introduce new ideas and see the world through fresh eyes. The multiplicity of identities and communities in the city offers something for everyone, permitting everybody to find their place and their people.
Brighton is flamboyant, electrifying and unique. For students, it is our home away from home, offering up friendship, independence and opportunity. Those beginning second term away from the city realise the strength of their affinity to Brighton when they start to wonder: am I even starting to miss the seagulls at this point?