Newcastle is known as the cultural epicentre of Northeast England. From its shipbuilding and coal mining heritage to its exciting nightlife, stunning Georgian-era buildings and friendly locals known as ‘Geordies’, it’s a great place to visit and study.
Newcastle has a staggering student population of approximately 42,000, of which Newcastle University contributes more than half. The city is currently inhabited by over 5,000 international students from more than 120 countries. This makes Newcastle a culturally diverse and exciting city to live in.
You don’t just get to experience the Geordie culture but many cultures from across the world. From my personal experience, I can say that Newcastle is welcoming to all the cultural differences and makes you feel at home. This likely stems from the friendly and sociable nature of the Geordies. If you’re planning to study at Newcastle University Business School, below are some of the ‘must know’ attributes of the Geordie culture from my perspective as an international student.
1. Greggs is a Geordie staple
Greggs is a culturally renowned food chain that was born in the Northeast. It provides an affordable range of breakfast and lunch food items. Having started in Newcastle, it is now the largest bakery chain in the country and comes out on top as the most accessible fast-food place in the UK. On average, there is a Greggs store only around 4 minutes away from the centre of the major 100 towns and cities in the UK. In Newcastle, it’s almost impossible to miss a Greggs store. I hadn’t tried Greggs before moving here, however, Greggs has now become my favourite go-to place for coffee and pasties.
2. Geordies are super friendly and love to talk
They are the friendliest bunch, culturally and socially. Geordies can befriend almost anyone as they are so approachable and easy to talk to. Being new as an international student to the city, finding local friends and people to talk to wasn’t a difficult task, however, understanding the local accent can be at times. In my personal experience, it took me a while to get used to the local dialect, however, it’s definitely worth working to understand them. They have a great sense of humour, made evident when I’ve attended local comedy shows, gigs and pubs, which are just a few of the best ways you can get yourself immersed into the local culture.
3. Geordies love to party
Newcastle’s nightlife scene is extremely varied, and one of the biggest advantages it offers is that bars, pubs and clubs of every shape and size can be found in town. Parties are one of the best ways to socialise, meet people and have a good time with friends. I have personally met some great local personalities on these occasions, who are now a part of my friendship circle.
4. Geordies are passionate about Sports, especially football
Football is an important sport for many with Newcastle United Football Club playing regularly at St James’ Park (which is right opposite the Business School!). Newcastle United fans are known for their passion, and a match day is a big event in the city and an experience in itself. The whole city is into the game and you can hear the cheers anywhere in town from the stadium. I haven’t yet managed to get a ticket to a home match, but it’s on my bucket list and something I would recommend doing at St James’ Park at least once, to truly feel a part of the city and its culture.
Other popular sports teams in Newcastle include The Newcastle Falcons Rugby Union team who play at Kingston Park in the Rugby Premiership. There are also The Newcastle Eagles who are the most successful basketball team in Britain. Basketball is the sport that I enjoy playing myself and I’ve met like-minded friends who share this same passion through meeting up to watch and analyse the games together.
5. Geordies love to shop
Home to great retail such as Newcastle’s Eldon Square and Gateshead Metro Centre, shopping is irresistible. There are great shopping opportunities, especially for students on a budget. Being someone who loves shopping and is on a student budget, I have personally made the most out of it, especially the student discounts offered in the majority of stores. Geordies say retail therapy is a great way to relax. This attribute is infectious as affordable brands like Primark, H&M and Marks & Spencer dominate the city centres and offers a great day out with friends if you’re that way inclined.
6. Bridges and their cultural significance
There are seven bridges over the River Tyne within two kilometres of each other. These bridges are:
- Gateshead Millennium Bridge
- Tyne Bridge
- High Level Bridge
- Queen Elizabeth II Metro Bridge
- King Edward VII Bridge
- Swing Bridge
- Redheugh Bridge
It’s not unusual for Geordies to get emotional when they return home from a trip on the train and see the Tyne Bridge’s silhouette in the distance. It’s a symbol that rolls Newcastle up in one due to the history it encompasses. Having Newcastle as my second home and embracing the Geordie culture, I have found myself being moved by the sereneness of these bridges whenever I visit the Quayside. They have become an escape for me from my regular day-to-day and a breath of fresh air. After exploring some of Newcastle on foot and public transport, I decided to buy a bicycle. I often take a ride around the city in the evening and find myself down at the bridges in the evenings, appreciating the beauty of Newcastle.
7. Fish and chips aren’t just for Fridays
Newcastle is studded with award-winning fish and chip shops at affordable prices. I have tried fish and chips before, however, the local fish and chips from Tynemouth Market on a Saturday or Sunday have to be my favourite and therefore a must-visit! The fish is locally sourced and freshly made, which is what makes the quality of the Northeast’s fish and chips so much higher.
8. Geordies are extremely proud of their industrial past
Newcastle made a huge impact on the world, especially in industry. There are many Geordie names, including George Stephenson with his locomotive, Sir Joseph Swan with his lightbulbs and William Armstrong whose home in Cragside was the first house in the world powered by hydroelectricity. On the other hand, their mines are the backbone of Britain and umpteen famous ships were built on the Tyne. The historical and industrial significance of the city really piqued my interest and has encouraged me to visit museums and places of historical significance across the city and further afield. This has helped me to understand the pride, legacy and history of the Geordie culture and become more entwined with it.
Newcastle is a truly iconic city in the North of England. It is the friendly and modern heart of England. Adjusting to a new country is difficult, but the Geordie culture makes it easy and fun. Unlike many larger cities, Newcastle is small enough to feel comfortable in quickly. It is an amazingly friendly city. Strangers walk past and smile, sometimes wishing you a good day. There are some lovely green spaces, such as Jesmond Dene and Exhibition Park, which provides an escape from city life and the beach is just a short metro ride away, too. It’s one of the UK’s best student cities, with a winning combination of culture, shopping, nightlife, low cost of living and a welcoming vibe. If you’re planning to study for a Master’s degree in the UK, I would highly recommend choosing Newcastle.