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American Applying to UK Universities

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    Hi, everyone. As my name indicates, I am an American. I am seriously considering applying to a university in the United Kingdom. This is for a variety of reasons; it is cheaper, it takes less time, my best friends recently moved back to England, and I really have an interest in British culture. I am going into my junior year of high school (which I think is equivalent to the first year of sixth form). By the end of my high school career, I will have taken 5 AP classes. I am looking to get a B.A. in History at a UK uni. I would prefer to study in England, but Wales, Scotland, and N. Ireland would be fine too. Do you guys have any tips on an American studying in the UK? Any recommendations of unis that I could study at (Oxbridge is out of my league, but I don't think the Russell Group is). Anyway, thank you for your advice.
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    I would suggest avoiding most northern universities. They generally have the worse in terms of British culture (ie naked orange people drinking far too much and puking).

    Of course there's London, but I don't think it's very good for campus-based university atmospheres. Perhaps try Sussex, Surrey and Kent. They have university bubbles, but they're close to London if you would like to visit.
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    A reasonably well rated university that my be suitable is Keele, it comes in around the top 30% of universities, as well as being the only english university in the US admissions system http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/education-17897360 which might make application a lot easier. I'm pretty sure they do the course you're looking for as well.

    Note: Oxbridge is part of the Russel group anyway
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    Try Manchester, Bristol, York, Bath, Nottingham, Warwick, Durham. All are great cities and have great UK and a worldwide reputation!
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    Thanks everyone for your input. And yeah, no offense to northerners, but I find it hard to undestand your accents, especially those from Newcastle. I really like the Bristol area and the Devon/Cornwall area, but I still really like all parts of the UK.
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    (Original post by umop apisdn)
    I would suggest avoiding most northern universities. They generally have the worse in terms of British culture (ie naked orange people drinking far too much and puking).
    What a good way to treat the north as a monolith, completely ignoring that there are vastly different cities and universities in the north. From smaller, more historic Durham, York and Lancaster to the larger Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester.

    Plus some of the cities, Newcastle in particular, have a reputation as offering the best party and student nights out in the country as well as fantastically friendly and hospitable cities with plenty of culture that doesn't involve naked orange people.

    Having travelled across the UK, as well as witnessed plenty on programmes such as Street Crime UK, binge drinking is evident across the country and isn't just a northern problem.

    (Original post by ConnorTheYank)
    Thanks everyone for your input. And yeah, no offense to northerners, but I find it hard to undestand your accents, especially those from Newcastle. I really like the Bristol area and the Devon/Cornwall area, but I still really like all parts of the UK.
    To be perfectly fair though, I'm not sure how much of the accent you'll really encounter at university. Students will be from all over the country and, indeed, world, and usually middle class (Newcastle has a particularly large privately educated, middle class intake from the south of England). Academics will also be from across the world.

    Plus not everyone has strong accents. Not everyone from Tyneside has a strong, or even noticeable, geordie accent. You'll probably soon become accustomed.
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    (Original post by River85)
    What a good way to treat the north as a monolith, completely ignoring that there are vastly different cities and universities in the north. From smaller, more historic Durham, York and Lancaster to the larger Newcastle, Leeds and Manchester.

    Plus some of the cities, Newcastle in particular, have a reputation as offering the best party and student nights out in the country as well as fantastically friendly and hospitable cities with plenty of culture that doesn't involve naked orange people.

    Having travelled across the UK, as well as witnessed plenty on programmes such as Street Crime UK, binge drinking is evident across the country and isn't just a northern problem.
    Firstly, I said 'most'. Secondly, I have also travelled across the UK and have gone to dozens of universities, and I'd still avoid the northern universities. They may be cheaper in general, but I still didn't feel comfortable in most of the ones I visited. Plus York is a ridiculously ugly university, and I don't think Durham has a particularly good community feel - especially with the collegiate competition. You didn't mention it, but Nottingham made my throat seize up from the smokers and the pollution.

    Just to reiterate, it is MY opinion that someone should avoid the northern universities. You say that the majority of people t the university are from all over the country, but you still come into contact with locals just by going to the shops, going on a night out, looking for private housing, on the bus etc, and lots ARE difficult to understand, and would be more difficult for someone who lives outside of the UK.
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    (Original post by ConnorTheYank)
    Thanks everyone for your input. And yeah, no offense to northerners, but I find it hard to undestand your accents, especially those from Newcastle. I really like the Bristol area and the Devon/Cornwall area, but I still really like all parts of the UK.
    The good universities in the areas you mentioned are Bristol uni, Exeter uni and Bath which is close to those and a nice area itself I hear.
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    Also, which cities have like a cozy feel? By that, I am talking about narrow streets, old pubs, stone (not brick) houses, but still have a generally young populace. I've been to York, Oxfordshire (Witney and Oxford) and Manchester. I liked York most of all, but the heavy Yorkshire accents are hard for an American to understand. I am not bad at understanding accents; I am familiar with English accents from a variety of regions, but the farther north you go, the harder it gets to understand the locals.
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    (Original post by umop apisdn)
    Firstly, I said 'most'. Secondly, I have also travelled across the UK and have gone to dozens of universities, and I'd still avoid the northern universities. They may be cheaper in general, but I still didn't feel comfortable in most of the ones I visited. Plus York is a ridiculously ugly university, and I don't think Durham has a particularly good community feel - especially with the collegiate competition. You didn't mention it, but Nottingham made my throat seize up from the smokers and the pollution.
    I didn't mention Nottingham as it's not in the north. It's in the East Midlands.
    Though, being a larger city, assumed you'd lump it in with Newcastle, Leeds, Liverpool, Manchester and the rest anyway

    As a Durham graduate, having spent seven years there, Durham has a good community. Yes people belong to their own college but this doesn't cause divisions. You are taught in your department at there are hundreds of university wide societies and sports, as well as at college level. Any "divisions" are just rivalry, which only surfaces every now and then. I really don't understand what you mean.

    The crime rates in some of these cities are amongst the lowest in the country. Both Sheffield and Newcastle have the lowest crime rates for urban areas over 500,000 people. If you don't like them and don't feel safe, fine, but I feel it's important to state that you're not more likely to be a victim of crime in major northern cities than the south. If anything it's the opposite.

    Just to reiterate, it is MY opinion that someone should avoid the northern universities. You say that the majority of people t the university are from all over the country, but you still come into contact with locals just by going to the shops, going on a night out, looking for private housing, on the bus etc, and lots ARE difficult to understand, and would be more difficult for someone who lives outside of the UK.
    Not necessarily, the geordie dialect share some similarities with Dutch and Scandanavian :p: People from certain parts of northern Europe will find geordie easier to understand than someone from the south of England.

    Yes, and I was going to expand on this, of course there will be some contact with local people in shops and things but not a tremendous amount. Depending on the university it can be very much like a bubble (this is especially true of Durham - I spent all my years in Durham barely having direct contact with anyone who has even a noticeable Durham accent, let alone a strong one). If someone wants to get involved in community engagement, such as volunteering in local schools, then it might be more of an issue.

    I just feel that this is really overstated as a problem. You do get to understand the accent if exposed to it, and quite quickly. It's not like the north of England only is home to strong accents. All parts of the country have thick accents, some more difficult to understand than a soft mancunian accent (thick west country, for example).

    Yes, and you're entitled to your opinion, but I'm also entitled to offering an opposing viewpoint. That the "northern culture" is one of friendliness and hospitality as much as "getting pissed" (which is just as prevalent down south - even if people down south usually travel north to get pissed).

    The north also offers more than just low cost of living. Fantastic countryside for example (in every direction from Newcastle you have a national park, AONB or coastline. Sheffield has the Peak District within its boundaries).
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    (Original post by ConnorTheYank)
    Thanks everyone for your input. And yeah, no offense to northerners, but I find it hard to undestand your accents, especially those from Newcastle. I really like the Bristol area and the Devon/Cornwall area, but I still really like all parts of the UK.
    In all fairness, you will come into contact with relatively few locals when you are at university. Students commonly come from middle class families (who tend to have a more neutral / non-geographic accent) and they come from all over the country. Plus, you'll get to understand the accent fairly quickly anyway.

    Anyway, this is (admittedly a comedy version) of a West Country accent. The film was set in Gloucestershire (N of Bristol) and filmed in Somerset (S of Bristol) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cun-LZvOTdw
    However, people genuinely do speak like this in Bristol (and I have heard far thicker accents there) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhgUeY1BExk

    Anyway, the point is that there are a few locals with utterly unintelligible accents wherever you go.

    (Original post by ConnorTheYank)
    Also, which cities have like a cozy feel? By that, I am talking about narrow streets, old pubs, stone (not brick) houses, but still have a generally young populace. I've been to York, Oxfordshire (Witney and Oxford) and Manchester. I liked York most of all, but the heavy Yorkshire accents are hard for an American to understand. I am not bad at understanding accents; I am familiar with English accents from a variety of regions, but the farther north you go, the harder it gets to understand the locals.
    Unfortunately, cities have generally been modernised for reasons of practicality, profit, and the fact that most cities were extensively bombed in WWII, and lost a lot of their historic buildings. The Germans were targeting supply routes, which generally involved harbours and dockyards, and those were the areas where the oldest buildings generally were.

    You can find parts of most cities that are pretty, but at the same time there are bits of every city that are grim - even Oxford has Blackbird Leys - a particularly grim council estate. Unfortunately larger cities tend to have put tarmac over most of the cobblestones (they're not comfortable to drive over, and you can't go at much more than walking speed over them). However, I can think of a couple of examples in the vicinity of Bristol Uni, such as Mornington Road, Clifton. Bristol also has some seriously old pubs (e.g. the Hatchet, built in 1606) and some nice Georgian architecture (1714-1830) around the Clifton area (which you would walk through on your way to uni if you lived in Stoke Bishop halls, and probably live in in second/third year). A lot of the houses in that area are built out of Bath Stone, and look like this and this, although it's common for them to be split up into flats. Bristol has quite a young population, and with two universities there's lots to do there.

    Bath is an alternative in terms of the architecture, but it's full of tourists and has relatively little to do there, so it's probably best left as somewhere to go to on a weekend - it's a short train / bus ride from Bristol.

    The sort of place that you seem to be looking for, architecturally speaking, tends only to exist as small, rural villages, such as Castle Combe and Bourton-on-the-Water. Unfortunately, they're full of pensioners and miles from any universities, so again best left for day trips!
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    (Original post by Origami Bullets)
    In all fairness, you will come into contact with relatively few locals when you are at university. Students commonly come from middle class families (who tend to have a more neutral / non-geographic accent) and they come from all over the country. Plus, you'll get to understand the accent fairly quickly anyway.

    Anyway, this is (admittedly a comedy version) of a West Country accent. The film was set in Gloucestershire (N of Bristol) and filmed in Somerset (S of Bristol) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Cun-LZvOTdw
    However, people genuinely do speak like this in Bristol (and I have heard far thicker accents there) http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=XhgUeY1BExk

    Anyway, the point is that there are a few locals with utterly unintelligible accents wherever you go.



    Unfortunately, cities have generally been modernised for reasons of practicality, profit, and the fact that most cities were extensively bombed in WWII, and lost a lot of their historic buildings. The Germans were targeting supply routes, which generally involved harbours and dockyards, and those were the areas where the oldest buildings generally were.

    You can find parts of most cities that are pretty, but at the same time there are bits of every city that are grim - even Oxford has Blackbird Leys - a particularly grim council estate. Unfortunately larger cities tend to have put tarmac over most of the cobblestones (they're not comfortable to drive over, and you can't go at much more than walking speed over them). However, I can think of a couple of examples in the vicinity of Bristol Uni, such as Mornington Road, Clifton. Bristol also has some seriously old pubs (e.g. the Hatchet, built in 1606) and some nice Georgian architecture (1714-1830) around the Clifton area (which you would walk through on your way to uni if you lived in Stoke Bishop halls, and probably live in in second/third year). A lot of the houses in that area are built out of Bath Stone, and look like this and this, although it's common for them to be split up into flats. Bristol has quite a young population, and with two universities there's lots to do there.

    Bath is an alternative in terms of the architecture, but it's full of tourists and has relatively little to do there, so it's probably best left as somewhere to go to on a weekend - it's a short train / bus ride from Bristol.

    The sort of place that you seem to be looking for, architecturally speaking, tends only to exist as small, rural villages, such as Castle Combe and Bourton-on-the-Water. Unfortunately, they're full of pensioners and miles from any universities, so again best left for day trips!
    Thank you very much! Your reply was very helpful. I was looking at Bristol a lot and I like it very much. I am planning on going to the UK this fall or spring to tour the unis and cities to get a feel about how it would be to study there.
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    (Original post by ConnorTheYank)
    Thank you very much! Your reply was very helpful. I was looking at Bristol a lot and I like it very much. I am planning on going to the UK this fall or spring to tour the unis and cities to get a feel about how it would be to study there.
    No worries

    I grew up in Bristol, so I've put together a little tour for you of Bristol's main student areas, with a historical focus
    - Start at Stoke Bishop Halls
    - Then walk across the Downs (400 acres of parkland in the middle of the city, much loved by sunbathing students, football players and dog walkers) and down Blackboy Hill / Whiteladies Road. Have a look at some of the Georgian Architecture. A lot of it is built in Bath Stone, and many of the houses were built by slave traders - Bristol was one of the primary ports in the transatlantic slave trade, and Clifton was an area favoured by the merchants who sold them. If you want to see a cobbled street, then turn right at the fishmongers onto Wellington Rd, and then right again onto Mornington Road, turning the corner to see the cobbles.
    - When you get to the bottom of Whiteladies Rd, keep going across the Triangle.
    - Turn left and go up University Road, and have a look around the university buildings.
    - Go back towards the Triangle and then have a look at the Clifton halls. Optionally, you can go and have a look at the student's union, which is on Queen's Road.
    - Continue down Park Street - there's lots of nightlife and independent shops here. At the bottom is Bristol Cathedral, where construction started in 1140 and continued for another 700 years. You can go inside, if you so wish, which is free (although there is a donation box!) It's quite a spectacular building, and worth a look.
    - At this point you could take a 5 minute diversion to see the Hatchet pub, Bristol's oldest pub, which is on Trenchard / Frogmore Street, and is accessible from a set of steps on the left hand (east) side of Park St at the bottom of the hill. If you're gay, then this is one of Bristol's two gay nightlife districts (along with Old Market), although the Hatchet isn't a gay bar.
    - Take a look at the Harbourside - it's been really nicely redeveloped in recent years and has lots of nightlife, and a good museum which is focused on local history (M-Shed) and some other cultural things (Watershed, Arnolfini)
    - Head back towards the Centre, and then go down Corn Street. Go to St Nicholas Market (known locally as St Nick's) It's a big, historic stone building but it's not immediately obvious which building it is, so don't be afraid to ask someone. Have a look at the independent stalls, especially Beast - they sell t-shirts & other items full of local humour. There's also a sweet shop there that sells lots of sweets, including rare stuff like marshmallow fluff. Go for lunch in St Nick's - there's a brilliant pie shop there called Pieminister (my recommendation), along with an inexpensive Moroccan restaurant, a veggie cafe and a vegan falafel place and a few others.
    - Walk further down Corn Street. When you get to the non-pedestrianised bit, look to your right. The bridge you see is Bristol Bridge, where Bristol was founded c.1000AD (it was called Brigstowe at that point).
    - Walk along Wine Street and then down Union Street, before turning right onto the pedestrianised shopping area, known as Broadmead. This (along with Cabot Circus; keep walking in a straight line to get there) is the main shopping area in Bristol.

    Whistlestop tour complete, you can now get a 8/9 bus from Rupert Street back up to the top of Whiteladies Road, if you are driving and have left your car there. The whole route is 3-4 miles long, but there's a lot to see along the way, so you'll walk the whole way down. It is, however, entirely downhill or flat land, so it's fairly easy!
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    (Original post by Origami Bullets)
    No worries

    I grew up in Bristol, so I've put together a little tour for you of Bristol's main student areas, with a historical focus
    - Start at Stoke Bishop Halls
    - Then walk across the Downs (400 acres of parkland in the middle of the city, much loved by sunbathing students, football players and dog walkers) and down Blackboy Hill / Whiteladies Road. Have a look at some of the Georgian Architecture. A lot of it is built in Bath Stone, and many of the houses were built by slave traders - Bristol was one of the primary ports in the transatlantic slave trade, and Clifton was an area favoured by the merchants who sold them. If you want to see a cobbled street, then turn right at the fishmongers onto Wellington Rd, and then right again onto Mornington Road, turning the corner to see the cobbles.
    - When you get to the bottom of Whiteladies Rd, keep going across the Triangle.
    - Turn left and go up University Road, and have a look around the university buildings.
    - Go back towards the Triangle and then have a look at the Clifton halls. Optionally, you can go and have a look at the student's union, which is on Queen's Road.
    - Continue down Park Street - there's lots of nightlife and independent shops here. At the bottom is Bristol Cathedral, where construction started in 1140 and continued for another 700 years. You can go inside, if you so wish, which is free (although there is a donation box!) It's quite a spectacular building, and worth a look.
    - At this point you could take a 5 minute diversion to see the Hatchet pub, Bristol's oldest pub, which is on Trenchard / Frogmore Street, and is accessible from a set of steps on the left hand (east) side of Park St at the bottom of the hill. If you're gay, then this is one of Bristol's two gay nightlife districts (along with Old Market), although the Hatchet isn't a gay bar.
    - Take a look at the Harbourside - it's been really nicely redeveloped in recent years and has lots of nightlife, and a good museum which is focused on local history (M-Shed) and some other cultural things (Watershed, Arnolfini)
    - Head back towards the Centre, and then go down Corn Street. Go to St Nicholas Market (known locally as St Nick's) It's a big, historic stone building but it's not immediately obvious which building it is, so don't be afraid to ask someone. Have a look at the independent stalls, especially Beast - they sell t-shirts & other items full of local humour. There's also a sweet shop there that sells lots of sweets, including rare stuff like marshmallow fluff. Go for lunch in St Nick's - there's a brilliant pie shop there called Pieminister (my recommendation), along with an inexpensive Moroccan restaurant, a veggie cafe and a vegan falafel place and a few others.
    - Walk further down Corn Street. When you get to the non-pedestrianised bit, look to your right. The bridge you see is Bristol Bridge, where Bristol was founded c.1000AD (it was called Brigstowe at that point).
    - Walk along Wine Street and then down Union Street, before turning right onto the pedestrianised shopping area, known as Broadmead. This (along with Cabot Circus; keep walking in a straight line to get there) is the main shopping area in Bristol.

    Whistlestop tour complete, you can now get a 8/9 bus from Rupert Street back up to the top of Whiteladies Road, if you are driving and have left your car there. The whole route is 3-4 miles long, but there's a lot to see along the way, so you'll walk the whole way down. It is, however, entirely downhill or flat land, so it's fairly easy!
    Thanks again! I will make sure to do that when I visit England again!
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    (Original post by ConnorTheYank)
    Hi, everyone. As my name indicates, I am an American. I am seriously considering applying to a university in the United Kingdom. This is for a variety of reasons; it is cheaper, it takes less time, my best friends recently moved back to England, and I really have an interest in British culture. I am going into my junior year of high school (which I think is equivalent to the first year of sixth form). By the end of my high school career, I will have taken 5 AP classes. I am looking to get a B.A. in History at a UK uni. I would prefer to study in England, but Wales, Scotland, and N. Ireland would be fine too. Do you guys have any tips on an American studying in the UK? Any recommendations of unis that I could study at (Oxbridge is out of my league, but I don't think the Russell Group is). Anyway, thank you for your advice.
    How about UCL, KCL, Manchester, perhaps Leeds or Birmingham, dude?
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    (Original post by Astronomical)
    How about UCL, KCL, Manchester, perhaps Leeds or Birmingham, dude?

    If you want "British" culture, you're probably best off going to somewhere in London, though don't get me wrong dude, the others I've mentioned are the next biggest cities and will have their own share of the British culture you so desire.

    If you go too far North, however, the culture is no longer British but rather North-England-ish; the North east in particular is rather "unique".
    So what is British culture then, if it can't really be found in north east England or become less common the further north you go? What about Scotland? Do you mean English culture?

    The north east can be an incredibly special place for a foreigner to learn about British history and culture, particularly as you're living in England (but close to Scotland) and Northumberland has more castles than any other county. It is where border conflicts were obviously commonplace and border reivers roamed the land. Not to mention the industrial heritage of coal mining, ship building and being the home of great inventions like the steam engine and lightbulb. This is culture, and an important part of British history.
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    (Original post by River85)
    So what is British culture then, if it can't really be found in north east England or become less common the further north you go? What about Scotland? Do you mean English culture?

    The north east can be an incredibly special place for a foreigner to learn about British history and culture, particularly as you're living in England (but close to Scotland) and Northumberland has more castles than any other county. It is where border conflicts were obviously commonplace and border reivers roamed the land. Not to mention the industrial heritage of coal mining, ship building and being the home of great inventions like the steam engine and lightbulb. This is culture, and an important part of British history.
    When a foreigner talks about British culture they usually mean (and having gone to an international school for 6 years, and having lived abroad, I feel I am justified in saying this) things like "posh" accents, red double decker, the typical London cabs, fish and chips and everyone saying "bloody hell".

    The further North you go, the stronger the accents get, the fewer big cities there are and so there are less double decker buses, and outside London you don't get the London cabs, obviously. Everyone does still eat fish and chips and say bloody hell, though, I suppose.

    Obviously there is no actual "British culture" and it's silly to think there is. Of course there are great cultural sites in the North east, and living here I've been to them; Beamish, Hadrian's Wall, the castles in Northumberland (my grandad's brother used to be the duke's chauffeur ), and some lovely bits of countryside. This, typically isn't what people from lands afar mean by "British culture" though, however fallacious the term is. I certainly wasn't trying to be offensive; I myself am a North easterner.
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    (Original post by Astronomical)
    When a foreigner talks about British culture they usually mean (and having gone to an international school for 6 years, and having lived abroad, I feel I am justified in saying this) things like "posh" accents, red double decker, the typical London cabs, fish and chips and everyone saying "bloody hell".

    The further North you go, the stronger the accents get, the fewer big cities there are and so there are less double decker buses, and outside London you don't get the London cabs, obviously. Everyone does still eat fish and chips and say bloody hell, though, I suppose.

    Obviously there is no actual "British culture" and it's silly to think there is. Of course there are great cultural sites in the North east, and living here I've been to them; Beamish, Hadrian's Wall, the castles in Northumberland (my grandad's brother used to be the duke's chauffeur ), and some lovely bits of countryside. This, typically isn't what people from lands afar mean by "British culture" though, however fallacious the term is. I certainly wasn't trying to be offensive; I myself am a North easterner.
    Thanks for the input everyone! I know what you mean about "British culture". I have been to the UK many times and I have been to most parts of the country, so no worries, and even if I hadn't, I don't think I would want to be around the posh accents, red telephone boxes, or those dudes with the tall fur hats lol.
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    First off, which universities do you know and rate highly?
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    I think some people have been watching too much Geordie shore. Its nothing like that up here

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