Name: Weiyi Yao
Place of birth: Shanghai, China
Time living in Leeds: 3.5 years
Time living at YPP: 2.5 years
Residence: 21 Hyde Terrace
Occupation: Studying for a PHD in Bio-energy at The University of Leeds
Why did you initially choose Leeds?
When I was applying to study my PHD in Bio-energy I had a tough decision between The University of Leeds and The University of Warwick, as both courses had a very high reputation. After lots of research into both cities it was clear that Leeds had a lot more to offer in terms of life experience. Although my priority was getting a good degree, I wanted to make sure I was in a place that I enjoyed and made my university experience a good one. Leeds seemed to offer the whole package and what really appealed to me was the fact that The University of Leeds campus is located in the city centre within walking distance of almost everything.
What other cities have you lived in?
Until the age of 10 I lived in Shanghai China which as you can imagine is very different to Leeds. At the age of 10 I moved to the UK and have since lived in Southampton, Lincoln, Richmond, Kingston, Central London, Coventry and Bristol before finally moving to Leeds almost 3 and a half years ago. So I’ve moved around quite a lot!
How does Leeds compare to the other cities you have experienced?
Leeds is by far the best place I have lived so far in the UK and I’m glad I’ve come here whilst I’m a student. I love the open culture, and it’s definitely opened me up to new experiences. I’ve recently discovered that I love to dance, which back in China I probably wouldn’t have partaken in and there’s so much to do here that I’m still finding new things to do every week! It’s busy, vibrant and full of people my age. The University of Leeds alone has over 9000 international students as well so it’s great to see so many different cultures in one place.
I don’t particularly partake in drinking but recently I’ve attended a few parties and it’s been great to embrace the English culture. I’ve also come to realise Leeds is a safe place and I have no worries walking out at night, which is a good feeling compared to some other cities I have lived in. I feel very safe here which is often a worry when moving to a new city.
When you came to Leeds did you find it easy to make friends?
Yes I did, but I think what made it easy to make friends was the University. They have so many societies you can join and they encourage you to make friends and try new things. I got stuck into loads when I first started, including caving in the Yorkshire dales! I would recommend this one to anyone who wants to get out and see the countryside. Leeds is great but there are so many scenic areas just outside of the city that you need to see! Other societies I joined included Gymnastics, Fencing, ballroom Latin Dancing, freestyle dancing and various academic societies. Too many to count!
What’s your favourite thing about Leeds and are there any places you would recommend to others new to the city?
It’s compact and has everything you need, especially where I live, I can walk to the other side of the city centre in half an hour. Any internationals especially will enjoy exploring the city, as it’s a city with quite a traditional British feel in terms of architecture, with many red brick terraced houses and buildings with history and character. Take Kirkgate market and Victoria gate for example, two very different buildings right next door to each other show casing the old and the new.
It’s great a great city for shopping. You’ve got The Merrion Centre, St John’s Centre, The Core, Grand Arcade, Victoria Gate, Trinity shopping centre and Briggate, the main shopping street, all within the city centre. Leeds has developed so much over the past 3 years since I’ve lived here it’s exciting to see what else it will bring in the next few years. I really want to try the new cat café; my friends have said it’s good. I also enjoy the wide range of cuisines you can get. Blue Sakura is one of my favourites, it’s a new Japanese restaurant that’s pretty high tech, you use an iPad to order. It’s different.
Why did you choose to rent with YPP?
When I first came to Leeds, I lived in a building right by the engineering school with another agent, but I didn’t have the best experience. I lived in a shared flat and didn’t get on with my flatmates, but I was only paying around £70 per week. In my second year I paid even less but the flat was pretty awful and the landlord was rubbish, not fixing any maintenance issues we reported.
Going into my 3rd year I thought it was time to pay a little more and live on my own in a nicer place. Studying for my PhD I thought I needed my own space so I can study in peace.
When looking for a place I did a lot of research and went on a lot of viewings as I’d now had two disappointing experiences and wanted to make sure I chose the right apartment this time. I had already seen YPP advertised on billboards, buses and I had seen their fancy cars.
I started my search early in November and I think it paid off. Normally I like to move every year so I can try out new places but moving is a big job and I’ve enjoyed my apartment so much this year, this will be the first time I’ve stayed put.
What’s your favourite thing about your current apartment?
I live in a studio so it’s all open plan. I have a lot of space which is good, especially to store my dance costumes, and for £95 a week it’s a very good deal. It’s perfect for my budget. It only takes me 5 minutes to walk to university and I don’t need a car, which saves me a lot of money. Everything is just so close in Leeds and it means I’m not tempted to miss any lectures!
I’ve recently installed automatic smart lights connected to my Alexa and a projector screen so it’s become quite a high-tech apartment! I’ve seen your new building in Leeds, Oasis Residence, it looks very fancy and I think a few friends of mine with higher budgets would definitely like to live there.
Did you find the sign-up process easy?
To be honest I was annoyed about the admin fee but I’m now aware that you don’t charge this anymore which is really good. The process was easy, all I did was visit the office with my documents.
Have you had any maintenance issues?
Yes, I’ve had two maintenance issues since moving in but it’s so easy to report them on your portal system. You just visit the website and log your problem there. It’s a good idea because you can upload pictures too, to help you explain the problem.
Why did you choose to renew?
I love my apartment at the minute and my rent only increased by £5. I think in the future I would like to move closer to the city centre but I know YPP have a lot of properties there so hopefully I can stay with them.
Do you have a favourite Chinese restaurant in Leeds?
I have lived in England for a long time now so I think many people within the Chinese community will have a different and more accurate view to me on this, personally I will eat anything and I like English food. Others tend to find the Chinese over here very different but a favourite amongst my friends is Red Chilli which they say is similar to back home. There’s also Noodlesta right opposite campus which in Chinese we call LanZhou Noodles, exactly how they make noodles in that region. It’s so good that you can get such authentic food so far from China. It is always busy with Chinese students which is a good sign too!