What I think about Leeds as a Southerner and why I'm never leaving - YEP Opinion
Driving down the M621 as the Leeds skyline rose in front of me, I knew I was home.
My car was packed with all my belongings, which I'd ferried to my parents' house down south while waiting to get the keys to my new flat, and after 10 days away I was buzzing with excitement to get back.
I'm not a Yorkshirewoman, the accent is a bit of a giveaway, but moving up North was the best decision I've made.
I came here for university in 2015, like many do, but unlike most of my friends - I never left.
My knowledge of Leeds was shamefully limited to the Otley Run route for the first couple of years, the Number 1 bus from Headingley to Town was the furthest I'd ventured.
But the more I explored the city, the more I fell in love with it.
From exploring the beautiful Roundhay Park and trekking across Otley Chevin, to strolling through Leeds Art Gallery and hazy nights out in the bustling city centre - there's always something going on and somewhere new to visit.
I've always dreamed of living in the heart of Leeds and I had to pinch myself when I walked into my new flat, its views across Leeds Dock take my breath away every morning.
It's an area I haven't got to visit much since I moved here and I've been surprised at how peaceful it is; the River Aire is like a little oasis, but I'm just five minutes away from all my favourite shops, bars, pubs and cafes (sorry, bank balance).
But it's the people that make Leeds the best city in the country, I think.
Since I started at the YEP two years ago, I've had the chance to meet some amazing people - the warmth and community spirit of Leeds folk is unrivaled.
It's a cliche that people are friendlier up North, but you certainly don't get the same warm reception from shop staff, girls in nightclub toilets or people sitting next to you on the bus down south, I can vouch for that one.
And whenever I'm out and about reporting in Leeds, people have welcomed me - even in the most difficult of circumstances.
I've not quite been converted to a Leeds United fan yet (my dad would disown me), but the way fans rally around their own, whether it's supporting Burley Banksy or raising money for a good cause, is something else to be admired.
My uni friends have now dispersed across the country, with a couple enjoying sunnier climates in Europe, but I'm staying put. Why would I leave a city that has everything?
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