Blog post

Why Derby’s a great cure for homesickness

Moving away from home for the first time can be difficult. But student Ray Underwood found there was so much to do in Derby - and the city was so welcoming - that her homesickness melted away.

By Ray Underwood - 12 February 2020

A new arrival

This is my third year in Derby and, despite living a 45-minute train journey away, I wasn't familiar with the city at all when I first arrived. I'd never been away from home for more than a few nights either and moving was daunting, especially since I had no-one I knew there with me.

I lived in halls for my first year and that was the best decision I made as I spent my first day finding my way into town and shopping with my flatmates. Without having people around, I probably wouldn't have explored the city so much. Thankfully, I learned pretty quickly that the city centre is close to all halls and getting around Derby is so easy. That is to say, I expected to be using Google Maps a lot more than I actually did.

Getting out of my comfort zone

There were a lot of times, especially when my friends had gone home, where I wanted nothing more than to be back at home with my family. I went out a lot during Fresher's to fight my homesickness and surrounded myself around friends but this wasn't always an option for me.

Derby got me out of my comfort zone and I started going out a lot more even by myself (which was hard as someone with an anxiety disorder) but the city was very welcoming and I began to feel more comfortable. I've become a lot more confident since coming here thanks to the people I met and being able to explore a new city with lots to do.

Top places

I have a lot of favourite places but here are my top five based on what kind of mood I'm in:

Serenity seeker

There's a lot of cosy places to enjoy in Derby but my absolute favourite is the Carnero Lounge. I've done everything here from an internship meeting with my boss to a friend's birthday meal to a casual night out with friends. It is a great place to have a coffee and do work/catch up with friends or for grabbing some drinks at night to unwind. The latter is be especially good on Sundays when the lounge has live music.

Art lover

The Old Bell Hotel is one of the oldest inns in Derby and often holds events there such as monthly comedy nights and poetry events, which is how I first discovered the building. Derby has a huge poetry scene and it helped me express myself creatively outside of uni. The poetry events by Twisted Tongues held at the Old Bell never disappoint. If you don't write poetry, you don't have to perform and can instead listen to everyone else.

Night owl

The cheapest and the best nights out I've had either started or ended in The Standing Order (a Wetherspoon pub). There are two 'Spoons pubs in the town centre with cheap and great food and drinks. The Standing Order is not too far from my personal favourite club, Mosh.


I've eaten out a lot here but my all-time favourite place to go is actually one I first went to just a few months ago. Turtle Bay is a Caribbean restaurant with great food and cocktails (with happy hour being most of the time). Getting the app also often gives you "gifts" (money off) on your food which is great for students.


For those who love to travel, Derby is very central to a lot of places and Nottingham particularly is close by. You can get there by either bus or train and there's always plenty of events going on, good nights out and some of the best thrift/vintage stores I've seen. A recent perfect day happened thanks to Nottingham being so close. Me and my fiancé were able to go to the Winter Wonderland there at Christmas. We were able to relax from our deadlines and just take the day to enjoy ourselves. I was able to try new foods, do a bit of thrifting at White Rose, and finally got into the Christmas spirit.

Getting the balance right

It can be difficult at the moment to balance my interests with being a student but I manage by setting aside a day just for myself to explore the city or my hobbies and that's working out quite well. Some of my interests (vlogging, art and writing) can be done at home and even better is that my degree even enhances my interest in writing as I get to write for my course! On the other hand, some interests (shopping, exploring new places) can be done in this city so I find it easy to get out and do that thanks to where I live.

I've had many days out in Nottingham and Birmingham but at the same time there's always something to do in Derby itself. I'm happy Derby could quickly become a second home to me and soon it will be my home as I plan to move here permanently once I graduate.

About the author

Ray Underwood, smiling.

Ray Underwood
MSc Marketing Management student

My name is Ray and I'm an MSc student studying Marketing Management at the University of Derby. I recently graduated from Creative and Professional Writing (BA) and still am very passionate about writing and doing anything creative!