We talk about Manchester, Lancaster, but rarely mention Preston.
Although Preston is small, it is full of humanity. There is no bustling like London and no seaside views like Brighton, but there is a park hidden deep in the trail. There are many Chinese foods that Chinese overseas students will never forget. The railway station in Preston can take you to many wonderful places. As an overseas student, this is why I fell in love with this city.
I still remember, when I started my graduate studies in the UK, the language pressure was difficult for me. One day, I finished classes and walked to my home. I met three strangers, they saw that I was very sad, all asked me a question: “’Are you okay?’ If you have some problems, just talk to me.”
What could be better for me? In a foreign land, than a warm greeting? Even though we have never met before.
A 24-year-old Chinese student, a friend of mine, once told me: “I went to Blackpool to mail a package, but it was already night. When I was on the way to the train station, a woman in her car, stopped and asked me if I am going to Preston, she can take me home on the way.
“I was scared because I was in a foreign country and I was going to get into a car with a stranger. It was really dangerous and there was a lot of negative news like that. But I think she is really friendly, so I got in her car, and we talked the whole way. Finally, I got to my place safely.”
When I heard this story, I was more love this small place so full of temperature. The winter winds are cold, but the people here are warm in heart.
People are used to having a busy life, but they still yearn for a quiet little corner, and they make the effort to stop and see the scenery: Avenham and Miller Park, a hidden park near the center of the Preston. Having lived in Preston for two years, I had only recently discovered this beautiful place.
This park (pictured above) is big enough for me to slow down and walk in an afternoon. I can forget everything, just look at the green landscape, which can make people’s mood improve.
There, you might find an old man was walking in the park with his dog. There are couples on bicycles, have a date here. And my friends and I, like to come here for a walk on a sunshine day, which is also a way to help us relieve stress.
“I like this park. It is quiet in here. Look at this view, and chat with someone who also rests here, like you. You can feel life becomes interesting and not lonely.” says an older woman, talking to me on a park bench.
So what is my favourite thing about Preston. Obviously, the Chinese restaurant! Not only for me, I asked more than 50 students, who have returned to work in China, but they also said the Chinese restaurant(s) is what they miss most in Preston. These restaurants have accompanied them for long life in a foreign country.
A Chinese student who lived in Preston for a year but is now studying in London said that: “I really miss the Chinese restaurant in Preston, Roasta Preston, and Panda Cool! I can say that there are a lot of good Chinese restaurants in Preston. I used to say I was tired of eating this food because I almost eat them every day. But when I left, I really missed the taste.
“If I go back to Preston for the holidays, I will go to eat. It is cheap and delicious.”
Preston’s Chinese students come from Shanghai, Guangzhou and some other cities. Chinese restaurants also serve Sichuan, Cantonese, hot pot and barbecue. We also like fish and chips, English afternoon tea. But I think the reason why those Chinese restaurants make Chinese students so nostalgic is because it is the taste of home. These restaurants accompany them through those homesick days.
The Chinese restaurants do not just attract the attention of Chinese students, you can see a lot of local British people will eat here.
“It is really good. I love this food and it tastes good. You have to try Chinese food in Preston, it is a wonderful experience,” says a British man who eating in a Chinese restaurant.
Preston has good people, beautiful scenery and delicious food. It also has convenient transportation to take you anywhere. You can reach the bustling streets of London in two hours and also, by train in two hours you can experience the Scottish ambiance of Edinburgh.
Preston is so small that many Chinese students call it “Pucun.” It lacks the hustle and bustle of a big city, but has the comforts of a small town. If you want to escape the shackles of the big city and slow down once in a while, this place will be a good choice for you.