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I am a proud Muslim, but I really take issue with being accountable to other Muslims rather than to God regarding certain things, especially hijab. I took off my headscarf a few months ago, but I couldn’t tell my parents. They believe it is a religious ruling, but I don’t. I don’t believe that my hair is a temptation and anyway, a grown-up man shouldn’t be enticed by it! My parents tell me ‘’who are you to argue with God?’’ To me, there is nothing clear-cut on the issue in the Quran. It is only the interpretation a scholar made a thousand years ago, but again I am told ‘’who are to disagree with that scholar? You don’t have the expertise.’’  There are far more important issues that are clearly forbidden in the Quran, like talking about people behind their backs, but people do that without a second thought! Why the big fuss about hijab? And that is what annoys me the most! That is a societal and not a personal matter! Even if it was required by Islam, it should be up to me, a 30+ years old married woman with children, to decide whether or not to wear it and up to God alone to hold me accountable. I certainly shouldn’t be judged based on my choice not wear it! After I stopped wearing hijab, I actually made it a point to dress that same as I did when I was wearing, in a discreet and normal fashion and not to go to the other extreme. I never could believe that not covering my hair is such a big deal! 

I enjoy writing, painting, reading…I like creative writing, writing stories, anything really, short stories, usually quite realistic stuff, about people like myself, or people I’ve met, or things that I’ve seen. My favourite writers are either maybe F. Scott Fitzgerald (Great Gatsby) or Emily Bronte. I like their style of writing. All of Fitzgerald’s books are beautifully written, structured gorgeously, he uses lovely language, unlike anything else I’ve ever read. 

I’m American. My school back home has an exchange programme, so I came here last year, and I really liked it so now I’m back to do my Masters. I like the people and the town, I think the town’s very beautiful, people here are very nice. I’m studying international development, I want to work for the United Nations eventually, the poverty section. Alleviating poverty in developing countries. 

I enjoy being around people in general. That’s the reason why I came to Newcastle. I came for the nightlife, I just enjoy the people.  I love socialising. Keeping myself busy. Keeps me out of trouble. I also like sport, I play rugby, I do triathlon and stuff like that. So I see a lot of people that way. I started rugby when I was 5, my dad and my grand-father played rugby so it’s just the way it’s been. I’m not very good though. It’s painful but it’s something you get used to. It’s addictive. Its’ a good group. I’m playing for the Newcastle University engineers, we’ve got a good group of lads, so there’s a nice social side there as well. So if you go the pub after the game, it’s enjoyable. It’s not just playing the game and you go home. There’s more to it than that.

I’m doing a Phd in Law. With so many things going on, the wars in the Middle East, people being killed, people dying everywhere, I had an interest to know about international law. What’s going on, why is it happening, can we stop it, or at least minimise the amount of people being killed or dying, settle disputes and things like that? So that created an interest in myself to read those books and to find out if there is anything I can offer. In the Phd, you can put forward ideas and make proposals that will make sense for the international law community. To adopt something new. So that led me to start the Phd. I’m trying to see how international law can keep us together rather than creating a gap, a distance between us.

I dance. Tap is my strongest style but I also do ballet and jazz. I dance for the university. I do it as a hobby, and then we also enter competitions with a society. It’s just fun. What I like about tap is that…I’m good at it and that it’s something you can do on the spot, you can do anywhere. With tap, you can just make it up as you go along, it’s quite free, it’s not restrictive, you can do anything, to any music.

I’ve been doing photography for about 6 years and I love it. I like taking pictures of people, I can interact with them and make them laugh. But I also like taking candid shots, so I take photos of people in the street without them knowing and I show it to them afterwards and I ask them “do you mind if I keep that?” That way I get some more natural photos. I love taking a good photo, and then when someone uses that as their profile picture on facebook, it makes me feel good because they tag me, and the caption says taken by “such and such” and it makes me happy. When I see a camera I get excited. Some people see a Lamborghini and get excited, but I see a camera and I think…I wonder what that is…Believe it or not I have anxiety and depression and I have really struggled to talk to people, but when I do photography, it’s something that I’m really passionate about, so I find it easier. I can find it difficult to speak to people, so I hide behind the camera.

I enjoy moments when you’re with your friends and your family, and that it feels like these moments will be gone for ever. In the moment you think: “I’m going to remember this”. Moments like that when you just hang out. Even if they are really just ordinary, you’re not doing much. Last time I went to visit my sister in Bristol, a couple of weeks ago, we hadn’t seen each other in ages. All we were doing was listening to music and cooking, and it was such an ordinary moment but I thought I feel really happy in this moment. 

The weather makes me happy. If it’s nice weather, it’s nice. As long as it’s not raining I’m happy. 

When I was younger I wanted to be an actress that was a far-off dream. I was never very good at acting, but I really wanted to be on stage. I was in a lot of plays, school plays. I think I was more of a performer when I was younger. I loved the theatre, it’s so magical. I still try and go as often as I can. The actors are close; you can almost touch them, but not quite. It’s that sort of feeling that they’re in the same room as you, which I find really cool. I absolutely loved going to theatre shows when I was little. I used to always go to London and watch every musical I could possibly find. I’ve seen everything. Musicals are my favourite. 

I’m an electronics engineer and I enjoy engineering a lot. I enjoy solving problems. I guess I’ve always been a bit of a nerd. It’s been with me since I was little, to solve problems, maths, science. I really enjoyed physics at school. When I was little, I wanted to be a physicist, so I settled for engineering instead. I guess it’s because of the books I read. Popular science books, history of science, books about scientists. I still love reading books about scientists, am not so much of a fiction reader.

I like to create things: music, drama, performance, and writing. I’m a creative person. I love to have an idea, whether it’s a song or a script or a character or a play, and to realise it, to make it come out of my head, to turn it into a real thing. I get a lot of happiness from doing that. I change dreams all the time. At one point I wanted to be an actor, then I wanted to be a rock star then I wanted to be a film composer, then I wanted to be a playwright. To tell you the truth I don’t know for certain. I just think my future lies in creating stuff. I couldn’t tell you exactly what. I think that’s the nature of having a creative mind, you’re constantly drawing inspiration from different things, and because of that, your focus can change a lot. And I think maybe that’s the difficulty of having a creative mind. Sometimes it’s hard to stay focussed on one thing for long enough to make it come to fruition. To make it real. So my inspirations change a lot. 

At the minute I’m a bit of a nomad, I’m a dancer. I’m from Newcastle, but I’m very rarely here. I was in Italy a few weeks ago, and Spain as well, and I’m going to Düsseldorf next week. It’s great, but yeah you live out of a suitcase. But I’m working in something that I really really enjoy.  I started dancing when I was about 18, I was quite late. When I was about 12 I did some breakdance and then my mum had a couple of friends whose daughter did some dancing so somehow…well I was at a party, and my mum’s mate was asking me: “do you know what you’re going to do with your future?” and I didn’t really have any idea. I was 18, I was thinking about going to University, and I didn’t really know. And she said “come to this contemporary dance class tomorrow” and I said “not a chance”. And the more I drank, she pestered us, and I said “ok” to shut her up. The following day, I woke up really hungover, she was at the door and she said come along, and that’s how it started. And I’m still dancing now.

I love being outdoors. Running or walking. Ideally with at least one other person, I’m quite sociable. The Lake District. I used to do that with my parents, walking, but I complained a lot then! I’m a graphic designer so I’m in front of a computer all the time, so I like getting out. 

I love playing football. I play twice a week. I’m a midfielder. I started playing when I was a kid, and started playing more when I joined high school. My favourite players are Özil and Frank Lampard. I wanted to be a football star when I was little. I support Manchester United. 

We love going to gigs, music concerts. We go see music everywhere. We like Kaiser Chiefs, The Feeling. You’re surprised because you thought we were all folky! We live for today, tomorrow’s a long day away. We like indie pop, but it could be right across the border, Rolling Stones, The Feeling, anybody, Noel Gallagher, Richard Ashcroft, Kate Bush, we love Kate Bush. Shame we never saw her live.

I’m a musician. My main instrument is trombone, so I play in a few bands, the main one being a gypsy reggae hip-hop band called Euphony (it means good sound in Greek). I’ve played music all my life, that’s what I do. I started playing music when I was maybe 3, my whole family are musicians. I love being on stage, I love it when people look at me. It builds on my ego! I can be quite shy when I talk to people, but then through music, it’s just a different experience, it’s expressing myself in a different way, and when you’ve got the chance to improvise solo, and actually put feeling through an instrument, it’s just a completely different feeling. Everyone’s a musician, it’s the same with every kind of art, everyone can write poetry, everyone can speak and say poetry, everyone can play an instrument, they just don’t know that they can, everyone can paint as well. I’m an art curator as well, in an art gallery, just around the corner, System Gallery above Bar Loco. We’re putting on loads of shows. My belief is that everyone can create art, you don’t have to be trained. Sometimes it’s better if you’re not. It’s the same with music. Some people have had no music training whatsoever and taught themselves an instrument, and they play with such feeling, you can have passion through music, that you sometimes lose when you study it. 

What I like doing the most is playing football, sports. I play in the parks. I play football with my friends and in a team I enrolled in. I’ve been playing football since I was young. My favourite football player is Maicon, a defender for Inter Milan. When I was little, I dreamt of being a police officer. 

What I enjoy the most in life…travelling. Travelling around the world. I’ve been to Australia, America, Canada, China, France…around Europe. Australia I liked the most. Nice people around there. Everybody seems to be happy. It is a great place, the scenery and everything. I like travelling because you meet new people, see new things, just generally travelling is fun. Most of the time I travel on my own, but sometimes with friends or with my parents. When you’re on your own, you get to meet new people and make new friends. When I was little, I wanted to be an astronaut. It’s just cool, going to space.

I’m from Belfast. I’ve been here for one year and I’m going into my second year at university. I do biomedical science. I chose that because I’m really into science, I’m really into biology and then I’d like to go into research of diseases. Cancers and things like that, things that affect a lot of people, to try and help. When I was little, I wanted to be a professional golfer. I play golf at the university now. I always wanted to be a professional sports person. I still play a lot of golf. But I’m not going to be a professional. You have to be very good. I’m close but maybe not good enough.

I love doing my work, I’m an artist. I do sculpture and drawing. I used to teach here but I’ve stopped and I work on my own stuff full time now. When I left school at 16 I didn’t know what to do and I worked in drawing offices - as a cartographer for 8 years – but I knew there was something else I wanted to do. And I finally realised that I wanted to go to Art school, so I took it from there. And I’ve been an artist ever since. Currently, I do digital drawings. I’m a traditional linear artist, line is my thing, but I find that using Photoshop as a primary drawing tool, I can do everything I need now. They look like coloured etchings but they’re actually done on a computer. My sculptures are small scale semi-figurative in lots of different materials. It has a sort of archaeological, archaic feel to it. The images that I make are quite often referencing classical themes or archaic themes. 

(Girl on the left) I’m from Indonesia and she’s from Pakistan. I’m in an MA international politics, critical geopolitics. It’s very challenging but I like it. I would like to go back to my country afterwards to work for my government. Fingers crossed. I really want to be a diplomat, but we’ll see. (Girl on the right) I’m doing my Masters in Science in Public Health. I would like to go back to my country afterwards to help there. It’s no big secret that Pakistan has a really bad health system. Depending on what opportunities I get, I will try and work with a private non-governmental organisation first. But hopefully, if I get enough experience, I’ll eventually move on to the government side of it. I’m going to go into infectious disease control hopefully. I would like to assist in developing clinical health because we’ve got a lot of infectious diseases in Pakistan, like malaria and hepatitis. 

Running is my passion nowadays. I did the Great North Run last year, and I’ve just kept it up. I get a real kick out of it, I really enjoy it. A lot of my friends do it in clubs but I see it a solo pursuit. It’s just getting away from everything, being on your own. I also enjoy running in really scenic places like along the Tyne. It’s really good, it helps you to switch off from work and relax. I started last April for the September race and I never thought I’d like running. I did that for charity and I enjoyed it so much that I run 3 or 4 times a week now. 

I’m going back to India in 3 weeks. It’s really sad. I’ll miss Newcastle. I’ve been here for 11 months to do my Masters in chemical engineering. I’ll be moving to Dubai after this to work in the oil industry. I want to work for 2 years, and maybe afterwards do a Phd and come back to Newcastle, so let’s see how it goes. Initially when I came it took time for me to get used to it, to get to know people. I didn’t have any friends and the weather was really bad for me. I came in October and it was the start of winter. I was numb all the time. I missed most of my lectures because I would just sit in my room and turn on the heaters. But afterwards I thought “well I just need to get used to it. It is Newcastle not India”. And now I’m ok, it’s summer and I’m enjoying the sun. I absolutely love Newcastle now. I love it. Even the language now I get it better. Because I struggled with the Geordie at first. It’s given me a lot of confidence to be abroad.

I’m a contemporary dancer. I work for a company called Ballet Laurent. We’re just researching Rumpelstiltskin at the moment, a fairytale.

I’ve been dancing since I was very little, I love everything about dancing. I just love it, it’s in my bones, it’s in my blood. It’s natural. I always danced, I used to go to discos at youth clubs when I was younger and make routines. I never had any formal training until I was 16, 17, and then I went to Northern School in Leeds to learn contemporary dance.

I’ve had an amazing career because as men, there are less of us. And if you’re half decent, you can make a good job out of it. Quite an exciting living. I mean you sacrifice a lot but you love it so it’s fine. I’ve got a very nice life, I can’t complain. 

When I was little I wanted to be a travel representative. A tour guide. I was interested in languages and I wanted to travel, and it would have been a good way to travel. I studied German and French at A level, and then German and Italian at Leeds University. I lived in Hamburg for a year and I really enjoyed living there. It’s a cosmopolitan city, it’s got a lot of aspects to it. There’s a big commercial centre but also a media centre, and there’s a great nightlife. I improved my languages there, I got to meet lots of interesting people, and see and live in a foreign city. I like German culture. There are a lot of things to admire about Germany. It’s very clean, the trains are very efficient, transport runs on time, people are friendly, and I like the food. I like everything about the country. 

I grew up in Singapore. I’ve been here for 4 years. It was amazing to grow up in Singapore, lots of different cultures, lots of different languages, very safe area. But it was kind of restrictive in a way. Not much to do really. After a while it just gets a bit boring. Everything’s nice and pleasant. But I like it more here, everything’s a bit more alive. After Singapore, I moved to France first. I’m half-French. My mum is French. We lived in the South of France and then I came here to university here. I’m about to go into my last year of medical school to become an infection diseases specialist, to go back to travelling the world a bit. 

I’m a DJ, so I pretty much do that full time, alongside university. I DJ house music, more underground sort of stuff. I play in all of the nightclubs in town - Digital and clubs. I used to work in the nightlife industry, doing promotion work and stuff, and I got into it through that. I’ve also been a musician for most of my life, playing guitar, drums, vocals. I get paid to do something I love so that’s great. I love playing music. Playing music I love and watching people enjoy it, it’s great. It’s very demanding though. It’s a lot of out of hours, your body clock is all over the place from the amount of gigs you do, and it’s very stressful, especially if you’re a student like me who’s got a degree to get. I study dietetics and nutrition. I’m coming into my final year now. It’s going to be a tough year ahead that’s why I’m getting plenty of walks in, in parks in Newcastle.

The best period of my life has got to be the 1960s. 68. August 68. Perth, Western Australia. I was there at the time. I think it was the first time I fell in love. With a Western Australian girl. It’s such a great story. I was in the navy. And I met this girl Helen. It was just a super time. Number one in the charts at the time, was a song called “This guy’s in love with you” from an American musician called Herb Alpert. It’s a really slow ballad. When she dropped me off next to the ship, that song was playing on her car radio and I said to her: “every time I hear this, I’ll think of you”. And she went “same for me”. It was pretty romantic. We wrote for a long time afterwards but it kind of fizzled out. But I still remember that, and that was 48 years ago. That song played on Radio Newcastle earlier today.

I work in accident and emergency, I deliver blood, push patients to the wards, that kind of stuff. It’s alright, a bit different. I like just helping people out. You get job satisfaction because people come in in all sorts of situations. But you’re part of a team, when someone really bad comes in. Good teamwork, that’s a good part of it. The hardest part is dealing with relatives who’ve just lost loved ones. It can be quite hard, because you get a lot of deaths in A&E, which is part of the job I suppose. But it’s not nice to see a family come in after they’ve just lost a loved one. Just not the best, but someone’s got to do it. 

I work in the Ouseburn for a design company so I'm just meeting with the law school to design some of their projects. We're a community interest company, Roots and Wings. There's 5 of us, and we're all equal. We have a multimedia/designer/photography person, a fine artist, a creative writer, a musician and my background is more business. I actually studied economics. So together we hopefully complement each other, because we can think about the same thing from different angles. We've been doing a lot of work with the council around young peoples mental health services, talking to lots of young people who've been through these services about how they can be better. Because we're still relatively young, we get a lot of young people work, but we also work with people in dementia, adults with learning difficulties, a wide spectrum. As long as it has a good social outcome, we're interested. 

The best period of my life was probably my 30s. Because I was very fit, strong, playing the best badminton ever, happy in my work, lots of friends, which I still have. I’m a badminton player, but I play more tennis now. I play tennis 5 days a week. But I’m not as good at tennis as I was at badminton. I’ve also been swimming this morning. I used to play badminton for fun, but also in matches, premier league ladies. I started playing Badminton at the church when I was 14, they had a badminton club there. I always played both badminton and tennis. If I had to choose, I would prefer badminton, but when you get older, your reflexes are slower, and you are slower in general, while you’ve got to be very quick at badminton. You can get away with a lot at tennis. I’m probably that much into sport because I have a twin brother, and on our street, most children were boys. If you didn’t join in, you had your chips. You either joined them or you got left out. My brother is a master swimmer, and he cycled from Land’s End to John O’Groats twice, he’s sportier than I am. 

When I was younger I wanted to be a doctor. I’m becoming a different kind of doctor now. I’m finishing up a Phd at the university in biochemistry and microbiology. I look at the good bacteria, and at how the good bacteria are good. I just find it all really interesting. 

I’m playing Pokemon in the park with my dog. It’s a good excuse to get the dog out. I’ve been playing for a few weeks. I don’t fight with Pokemons or anything, I just like to keep them because they’re cute. I don’t normally play games, but it makes you walk, so the more you walk, the more you’re incubating Pokemons and the more you find in the park. So it’s kind of a steps tool really, just something to keep walking, slightly more interesting than just walking. Pokemons are quite cute, they’re like little fury things. Like a dog. 

We're doing a piece of research into homelessness for Gateshead council and it's effects on healthcare. They wanted people who'd experienced homelessness and complex needs in the area in the past to think of how things can change. (Woman on the left) We give something back for the support we've received over the years. And now I've got children so I would like to make system changes so it's not so hard for them. We would like to make changes like reducing discrimination against mental health and addiction. (Woman on the right) I've got a Psychology degree and I'm going to be doing my Masters now, so you can turn your life around. We volunteer for various organisations and we support people into recovery, peer mentor and that sort of thing. We're trying to show people that you can get into recovery and that anything is possible.

I like playing football and surfing. I’m working in a lab here for the summer doing a micro-bio bacteria project. It’s really interesting looking for new antibiotics. 

I’m from Egypt but I’ve been working here for 5 years. I’m doing a Phd in architecture and I’m also working in the design office in the university. Most of our projects are to do with renovation work at the university, we’re working on the Armstrong building at the moment. It’s interesting to deal with a very old structure but to try to be more contemporary. You need to keep the value of the old building and at the same time you need to add something new. So that’s the challenge. Having a new quality of design inside. I always miss my family and my friends in Egypt but with skype and all the new technology you can keep in touch easily. I like it here and I’m a bit of a strange person, but I like the weather here. I don’t like hot weather so this is perfect for me. 

We’re mother and daughter. We both work in research. (Mother) Her doctorate is in linguistics, and mine is in education. We finished our Phds sort of at the same time, within 12 months of each other. I started first but I was part-time, and she got funding to do it full-time, so she finished before me. We helped each other, we enjoyed it. We talked to each other a lot about our work, how to do our research, writing papers and things like that. We actually haven’t done any proper research together but we will do one day. We went to conferences together. (Mother) I’ve been able to give her advice on a couple of projects that she’s been involved with. We have a lot of common interests in our research.

I'm from Somalia. They killed my father and my brother there, and they shot me in the leg. In Somalia there are the Somalians and the Bajunis. They are enemies. My father was a farmer. Some people came in the night while we slept. So I'm a refugee in this country. I came in 2003.

I’m a priest. I wanted to be a priest from a young age but I didn’t do anything about it until about 10 years ago, when I was in my 20s. I used to be in construction and civil engineering. Regular life really. Being a priest, I just felt it was something God was calling me to do. I enjoy it even if it’s hard work at times. A lot of contrasts. This afternoon, although I’m off this week, I’ve got a wedding rehearsal. So you can go from that, which is a happy occasion, people getting married, everyone’s lively - to funerals, which is the other end of the spectrum where people have lost a loved one. They’re miserable and they’re crying. And you can have those back to back. Working on a funeral can be hard although after a while you get used to it. The difficult ones are when it’s a baby or a child, or it’s tragic death like a suicide, particularly if people weren’t expecting it. If it’s someone who’s reached the end of their natural life, it’s sad but people kind of accept it because we’re all going to die at some point, hopefully of old age in a peaceful way. And that’s the case for many people. At a funeral, to families, there’s not much you can say, it’s just about being there sometimes. Being normal, being a human being, being alongside people. There are no words that are going to make up for the loss of somebody’s life. A teenager who’s come off his motorbike and wrapped himself around a tree. There aren’t any words.

This sign with my fingers is hello in Vietnamese. I study finance and management in Sunderland. In the future I would like to become a lecturer maybe. It's just a dream. I will try. My parents are happy that I study here but they dont want me to stay here. So I'll go back afterwards. I miss my parents here, Vietnamese food. But it's also a good environment here. Very peaceful. Not so crowded. Vietnam is more crowded. I have one older sister and she got married already. Shes just come back from the UK last week (studying project management in construction). My whole family works in construction and architecture except me. At first I wanted to be like them, but I found it a bit boring. My dad said I shouldn't do that, that I should go another way. I come here to get Vietnamese food and I cook it at home. I cook by myself and it makes me really happy.

I study business in Sheffield. I came to Newcastle just to visit for one day. I like the UK but sometimes I miss Chinese food. Chinese food in China is much more varied than Chinese food in the UK. Chinese food in the UK is not bad though, its enough for everyday food. I like cooking though so I cook for myself. 

What I like the most in life is music. The massive variation that there is available, the mood it creates, the memories that you have attached to it. It's like a treasure. You can dig out and find gems, it's like natural gems. Every person will have a different feeling attached to the same song, I like that. Someone can perceive something completely differently to the person stood next to them. Really interesting. I've got such an eclectic music collection that its hard to tell you what I like the most. The whole soundtrack to Forest Gump is one of my favourites. I love it. Just the fact that it was recording the times and the music at the time was also recording the times, I just think it was really a clever concept. And the whole soundtrack defines that time in America and the world really. 

My favourite things in life are cooking and eating. I've always enjoyed food. Dad was a chef, I used to have my own café in Newcastle. I love the Grainger market, I come on a daily basis to get my dinner, fresh food, etc. I cook a lot of stuff, all different kinds, but my favourite is probably something traditional like mince and dumplings. When I was little I wanted to be an actor. Now I work for several companies, Im freelance, I work for Body Positive North East which supports men with HIV and also raises awareness through training courses. I also work with LGBT youth around domestic abuse and violence, and how to avoid that. These are my little jobs. They are all connected through drama, because all my works based on drama. Domestic violence is prevalent in any minority group and it's about getting young people speaking out for themselves, getting their own rights, how to get the most of their lives without fear, how to be themselves.

I make crepes, I run La Petite Crêperie in the Grainger Market, and I make crepes every day of the year. I love it. I’m from the South of France, but my parents are from Brittany, where French crepes come from. So I always grew up in this environment. And when I came here a few years ago to study at Northumbria University, I just realised there was no real crêperie here. I always had that idea in one corner of my head. Then I met my business partner Frederic in Newcastle, and we had the same idea. So that’s how it started – we started in 2012, 4 years ago. We started by going to markets. And we’ve been in Grainger market for 2 years now. We work every single day of the week. When I was little I dreamt of being a football player. I never thought I would work in catering. But when I was a student, I started working part-time in restaurants and I really enjoyed it. Our crêperie is the meeting place for a lot of French people in Newcastle. The Newcastle French football players come here to eat crepes sometimes. I love Newcastle. We have an amazing quality of life here, I love the city itself. The football, the coast, the people, the geordies. 

I live in London. I'm just visiting today. I came on my own, just to get a break from London for a little while. To have a change of scenery. I always wanted to come up here but I never got round to it. So I thought let's just do it. I heard Newcastle was a nice friendly place, so I thought why not. I'll have a look around, see what the parks are like, just taking it easy. It's a change, I keep myself to myself and that's what I like, not knowing anyone. I thought I might as well treat myself. 

I come from Hexham. I wanted to be a science fiction writer when I was little because I always used to be into Star Wars and stuff like that. I saw the film Blade Runner at an early age and I really liked that. Actually the first time I saw it I was bored out of my mind, but the second time I saw it I thought it was fantastic. It’s like a proper Hollywood film, but it means something. It’s not shallow. It’s kind of about slavery, even if it’s about robots, so it’s not that serious. 

I started fishing because my father fished, so I started fishing 50 years ago with him. I was about 5 or 6 years old then, we fished in Gibraltar. And then I've done coarse fishing on and off for 50 years. Coarse is a type of fish that we go for, it's not an individual species, it's fresh water fish. There are many species, but it's generalised as coarse fishing. But today I'm actually doing carp fishing. They weigh up to about 30 pounds in this lake. You look at the fish, you photograph them if necessary, you weigh them, and then you put them back in the water. I do that for sport, pleasure and relaxation. I like catching the fish, trying to put my wits to find out why I can't catch a fish, it's all good fun. I'll be sitting there for about 10 hours today. 

I'm from London, I came here for University. I'm studying Chemical Engineering. I used to do chemistry and it felt like there were more jobs in chemical engineering so thats why I chose it. What I do is very much like chemistry, it's just a new scope. I like chemistry: understanding the basics of life, our atoms, understanding how we are made, what powers us, energy. I'm good at it also, so if you get good marks it's encouraging. In the future, I'd like to be involved more in the business side, maybe the food processing industry, using business and science together. That would be my ideal work. I like Newcastle because you dont have to take the bus, I just walk, when I came for the open day thats what I actually liked about it. Also the people are so friendly and everythings just very compact, very small. And everything is here, plus you have the coast. 

What I like the most in life? Home life, the wife, going out, eating in nice restaurants. Relaxation. I wanted to be a game designer when I was a kid. I also wanted to be a police officer at one point. I work in pensions now, far shot from what I wanted. Boxing is my favourite sport to watch. I used to do martial arts when I was a kid but I didn't really do any boxing. Boxing is a bit gladiatorial, I like the feel of it. I like the discipline in it. Outside of boxing boxers won't go around punching people in the face. It's just within the sport. 

I love cycling. Recently I bought a new bike and it's amazing. It's brand new and it's really fast. You can go through the woods in the middle of the night with your lights on and its a brilliant feeling. I did it just last night. The bike got really dirty though. Obviously it's a bit scary, because there could be any kind of crazy people hiding out in the woods in the middle of the night. Also there were a few logs in the way that I nearly crashed into, so it's a bit dangerous. But it's really fun, you get a good feeling out of it. I forgot to wear a helmet last night. I had to duck a few branches. I'll take it next time. 

I'm from Singapore, I've been here for about 2 weeks, I'm visiting my boyfriend, he's a student at Newcastle University. I love it here. We went to London for 2 days but I prefer the lifestyle and the pace here. It's much more relaxing. London is too packed and people are cold there. The residents here are very friendly. In other countries they might be a bit racist, they might be rude to Asians I'm not sure. But people here are very friendly. Compared to Singapore, people here are more interactive with strangers. In Singapore we don't really talk to strangers. We speak to people we know or maybe to people who need help. But here people are friendly and say hi to someone just if they feel like it. And you just wave back. Recently we saw a lot of people playing pokemon go. In Singapore it hasn't been launched yet. But sometimes we walk around and we meet a group of people who are playing, maybe locals, and we play with them. We join them and then we move around together. We walk together to find different pokemons in different spots. If you have the same colour team, then we can fight together and take over the gym. We actually joined locals yesterday around Leazes park. I don't think we would be able to do that in Singapore because people are more distant to each other. When the population is very high in a city, people are more distant.

We're studying multi-disciplinary interaction. You put different disciplines together: design, science, business, and we work in projects together, so you can get different angles on an idea. Compared to Thailand, people here are really polite, sometimes too polite. People here are generally friendly and quite helpful. They are very caring.

(man on the left)

 

I'm from Brazil. I came here because I wanted to live abroad for a while, and I got offered a job here. I've been here for 8 years now. I have a house now and I have a baby. My partner is a Geordie. My sister who is with me today is just visiting. I love it here, but I do miss my family, the food and the weather from Brazil a bit.

I'm from China. I'm studying international business management at Newcastle Uni. I've been here for 1 year. I would like to be a business man. My father and my mother all are doing business. From very young I always liked business. In the UK, compared to China, the lifestyle here is very relaxed. Everyone, whether they're very young or older people, they're all very relaxed. In China, most people are under high pressure. They have to make money to support their family (their parents as well as their children), so most people are working very hard. As a student here, things are different too. In the UK, teachers encourage students to talk, in a group or in the class, but in China, the teachers give a lot of homework to train the students how to pass the exam. China has too many people, so teachers cant encourage people to talk. But in the UK there are only 10 or 20, 30 people in the classroom. So I enjoy it here. 

I've been working as a pub manager for 6 years. It's quite easy work. It's long hours though, pretty unsociable, Saturday, Sundays. I like drinking in pubs and stuff like that so I thought, why not work in one. I was a football coach but had to give it up. I used to teach kids around schools, teaching them how to play football. I stopped when I was 21 because I hurt my knee. Thats how I fell into pub work instead. There's a really good atmosphere when there's a big football match. We get regulars, we get buses in. City centre regulars and people who come from further afield. People come here to start off the night and to finish the night as well. Some people stay here all night. Youve got a mix of all 3. 

I'm originally from Jamaica. My parents brought us to the UK when I was 15. We lived down South. I moved up to Newcastle 5 years ago. I actually came up here with my girlfriend. I gave up my flat and everything to come here. It didn't work out. I regret it now. Never again. I do like Newcastle though. London is too expensive for me. And people here are very friendly, you can talk to people. I've never been back to Jamaica since I was 15. Maybe hopefully one day I'll go. When I get older, I'll definitely go and settle down in Jamaica. Jamaica is full of music. I play base and I used to DJ down South. But I don't do it here in Newcastle. I DJ reggae music and up here in Newcastle, reggae is not very popular right now. 

(Girl)  

 

I'm French. I'm studying Structural Engineering. I study engineering in Paris, and for my last year, I came to Newcastle to study. We study for 3 years in my school, and after 2 years, we can choose to do what we want for the 3rd year. I would've liked to go to Sweden or Norway to specialise in Architecture but I didn't get my first choices so I came here. So now I've specialised in Structural Engineering because that was the place that was available here. 

We're from Singapore. We're here for the summer, for 4 weeks. We study Chemical Engineering in Singapore, and it's part of our degree to come here. We'll go onto our final year when we get back. We've been here for just a week for now. Actually right now we're waiting for a driver who's going to take us to a sky diving session. We saw that it was possible on the internet so we just booked it.  

I am here to do a Masters in economics and finance. I'm from Thailand. In my home country I was advised to come and study here. I'll study here for 1 year but for now I've been here for only 3 weeks. It's hotter where I'm from, very different from here. 

I just graduated in Urban Planning. I studied geography in high school so I was always interested in town planning. Newcastle is a good place to study urban planning because of the high ranking of the University on that subject. Now I will do my Masters in the UK and then I'll go back to Hong-Kong to work. I would like to work for the government on regeneration projects. To improve people's quality of life.

I just graduated in biomedical sciences. I'm particularly interested in studying ageing. I'm especially interested in brain diseases and brain ageing such as dementia. I would like to work in research in that area to try and improve treatment. Currently there are a lot of people with Alzheimer's. Ageing is going to be a big issue in the future. I'm from South Korea, but I only lived in Korea for 7 years. When I was 7, I moved to Vietnam and studied at a British international school for 11 years. And then I came here for 3 years. Right now I have to go back to South Korea to do the national service for around 2 years, but after that hopefully I'll come back here to do a Masters. 

I just graduated in biomedical sciences. I originally wanted to be a doctor but I didn't make the grades, so I thought I would come to Newcastle to see what it was like, and I loved the course. I think I'm going to get into Public Health and do epidemiology because I want to eventually work for medical charities. As epidemiologists, we look at the patterns of disease in the community, so for example in Brazil, with the increase in microcephaly, it was epidemiologists who realised that it was linked to Zika Virus. So it was epidemiologists who told people to not get pregnant in Brazil while the zika virus was going around. After I do my Masters, I'm going to hopefully go to Africa and work as an epidemiologist there for a charity. I'd love to start my own charity one day but we'll see. That would be the dream. I'll probably do my Masters in 3 years time. First I'll work for a year and travel for a couple of years. I think I'm going to Latin America and then Australia after that.

(Man on the right)

I'm graduating in biomedical sciences, I got a first, I'm super happy about that. I worked hard but it paid off. I really enjoyed the science side of the degree, and my whole aspiration is to be a research scientist. Really I'll try and use my knowledge to help people who have got certain diseases. That's my end goal. Hopefully research in cancer for better treatments. I'm from Newcastle. I've always been interested in sciences. From high school I went seriously into it. I've always been good at sciences since I was young. I'm going to be doing a Phd next year in Cambridge. I applied earlier this year and got offered a place. It's really exciting and I can't wait to go down. I'm super excited. 

You're driving a Harley Davidson? 

 

No it's not. It's a mobility scooter.  

 

You have a lot of interesting stickers?

 

Yes. The daughter put all those on. The daughter bought it for me. It's made by a British motorbike company. It's like a trike. It's very good for getting about on. You can go 4 mile an hour on footpaths, 8 mile an hour on the road, and you've got a 13 mile radius. So I can come from where I live 3 or 4 times a week. It's about 8 or 9 miles from where I live down to the town. I do it 3 or 4 times a week. It's all computerised. But I've had it nearly 3 years. Before this, I was a horsing man. Kept horses. Travelling man. Like a gypsy. With a gipsy caravan, a bowtop caravan, with horses pulling it. And 3 years back I got shingles in my face and in the mouth. And I lost 3 stones in weight. I used to be big, but I got trouble with the leg, it came from the shingles. And the daughter wanted to buy the scooter and I said no, no, no, but she went ahead and got it. My daughter is a lovely girl. She looks out for me, she looks after me. She does everything. Every morning she brings the scooter out the shed and she polishes it. Every morning. Like this morning, 7 o' clock it was outside, I looked out the window and she was polishing it. 

I'm a lecturer in material science. That's the study of materials, their properties, their applications. It involves chemistry, physics, etc. My research is especially focused on applications. Particularly failure investigation and lifetime prediction, how long a structure made from a certain material will last before it breaks. When I was a child I was fascinated by the structure of materials and I remember the first time I looked into a microscope to see the structure of materials, to see the small grains. We used microscopes at school. I came to Newcastle because the topic of the Phd was interesting to me. I did my first degree in Rumania (where I'm from). I love Newcastle. I love the city for everything, for the people, for the wonderful coastline, Northumberland is so close to us, it's very rich in history, it's a beautiful place. 

I'm from Sudan. I've been here for one year. I like England and British people. People are happy here. Sudan is dangerous. I'm from Darfur. There are a lot of problems there, there's a lot of fighting. I got injured there on my arm, that's why I have an appointment at the hospital now. 

I have my own coffee van. I came back from New Zealand where they have lots of them, and I decided I wanted one so I bought one. And I'm a farmer as well. I grew up in a farming background. Up in the countryside, we have 300 heads of suckler cows and about 100 sheep. The coffee van is a summer job and in the winter I can look after my cows when they're all inside. In the summer they go out on their own, they eat the grass, I just check them in the morning and in the evening, and there are other people who look after them as well. I love farming. Bred into me I think but I also love coffee very much. Farming is a lifestyle, it's not a job. I like being outside, I like animals but I also like people. I'm quite lucky because I'm down in the lowlands. There's lots of little farms right next to each other and everybodys really community orientated. 

My music, how I feel about music and the music that I like all comes down to watching School of Rock when I was 8 years old, the Jack Black film. When I saw that film, it completely changed all the music I listened to, it got us into rock music, it got us to play the guitar, I went to guitar lessons. This had a big impact because then that influenced which group of friends I made at school, what subjects I took at school and things like that. I suppose I can blame Jack Black on that. In the film, he teaches a class full of kids to become a rock band, 9 year old kids, and then they go out and win a battle of bands competition. It's my favourite film.

I wanted to be an actor when I was growing up. I used to act when I was a young kid, with stage schools and I also acted in some TV stuff. I stopped doing that and now I'm writing and directing films, so it's kind of still the same. I'm studying animation but I'm also making my own films, short dramas. I would like to make films like This is England. I like depressing stuff. Weirdly though my favourite films' Her from Spike Jonze, which is more of a romantic movie.

I'm studying fashion design here. I've always been into textiles. My mum was a really good sewer. I like designing clothes, I want to be a textiles teacher, but I've got another year left. Fabrics, knitting, designing fabrics or using them to make things. When I did my A-level I did wall hangings, art pieces with fabrics. Personally I like designing clothes for women. I specialise in knitwear so I like doing it for designing knitwear. I've just made a dress, but I do a 4th year collection next year, so I'll be doing 5 outfits for that.

When I was little, I wanted to be a wildlife documentary presenter, like David Attenborough. I've now just done my degree in film and television, and 'Im currently getting production runner-roles, here in the North East and in London. I would like to be a producer, maybe presenter and producer. Ive got ideas for wildlife children programmes, and also David Attenborough style, wildlife adult programmes. I want to do Beatrix Potter style animations, to help children discover animals they've never heard of or to make them appreciate animals more. I was also obsessed with Steve Irwin grabbing crocodiles when I was a kid. I used to want to be that person, grabbing animals. I was obsessed with all the dangerous animals. A lot of children dreams die off when you get older but I'm just as obsessed with them. 

I work for a peace education organisation, so I work with people from all around the world. The idea is to bring people together to increase cross-cultural understanding. For example, we have a programme called Village for 11-year-old children.

We bring 11 year old children usually from around 8 and 10 different countries in the world. At 11, the big lesson they're learning is that people might look different, might sound different and have different languages, but underneath, we're all the same.

I've worked for the not-for-profit sector for many many years. Working mostly with disadvantaged, homeless youths. I have a belief that any of us that are privileged enough to have advantages in life, like a roof over our head and enough money, we have the ability to help others, we have a bit of a duty. I don't mean that to make people feel guilty, but I mean that personally it's my belief.

I worked with homeless youths because you see these young people who, in their early teens, for whatever reason, have been thrown out of home, or have left home. And when they feel like everyone else has abandoned them, they need to know that some people know that they're worth a second chance, and maybe sometimes a 10th or 11th chance. I believe all of us are worth those chances. When you feel that everyone else has abandoned you, having some people who have some belief in you is important.

I do Badminton for Northumbria, I play for the local area. I represent the Northumberland county in Badminton. I wanted to do football at first, but now I really like badminton. I want to become a professional. To make it in badminton, it's different to football, you need to be at an international standard. If I play international tournaments, if I play for the country, you can get prize money, you can be a full time player. I always enjoyed badminton, it's good to keep fit as well, and the social aspect is also really good. I was 11 when I started, and I'm 19 now. 

I'm studying to be a paediatrician. I want to be a paediatrician because I like helping people and I like children as well. At first I wanted to be a nurse for little children, but then I thought that I needed something bigger, higher. Im from Angola, and after I graduate, I would rather stay here, but if work takes me back home I don't mind, I'll go back there. 

When I was younger, I wanted to be a music teacher, because my dad is, and also I was very musical. In fact I thought that it was naturally going to happen. But it didn't! I'm still teaching, but not music. I'm teaching business. My dad was a professional violinist, and he does teaching around the schools as well. I played the cello when I was little, for a lot of years. I decided to study business rather than music partly because of money. One thing my dad said that there was not a lot of money in making music, and the way that schools work here, in terms of teaching music, is that you go around and teach in different schools, and parents have to buy you in rather than the schools. Making a decent salary is not so easy. That was his view, and I agree. I really enjoy teaching business now. I'm also doing a Phd alongside my job.
 

I always wanted to be a lawyer, but when I started university, I realised that I wanted to teach instead, and that's what I do now. I got interested in law because I used to sit and watch lawyers on those TV crime dramas at my nana's house. I used to watch them and always wanted to be a lawyer. I feel like I grew as a person at University studying Law to be honest, and I enjoy teaching it now very much.

I wanted to be an engineer when I was little, and that's what I'm studying now, I'm in my 4th year. I'm from Nigeria. I want to be an engineer to develop my country. If you look at the UK and USA, they are far more developed than Nigeria. So if you want to develop Nigeria you have to study, so that you know how to do the stuff, then you go back home and develop the country. So I want to go back to Nigeria when I finish. I would like to build tunnels, bridges, roads. I'ts not that good there, constructions are bad.

I always wanted to be a fashion designer, which is what I did. I now teach animation but my research
is all in fashion. I like trends and I like people expressing themselves in interesting ways, through dress and hair mainly.
 

I'm Italian, and I'm doing a post-doc in Physics here. I would like to have an academic career in physics when I finish. Not many women study physics at University. When I started there were hardly any women, but its getting a bit better. In my research group at the moment we are 2 women and one man, so women are in the majority for once! I started thinking about studying physics when I was 16, 17, because I liked studying maths and science. But when I was very little, I wanted to be a tourist. I was looking at all these people in the street, and I would say I want to have the same job! I'm from Sicily so there are a lot of tourists there. My mum says that I was interested in tourists shoes, because they are very coloured. 

I'm from China. The UK education system is better than in other countries, so that's why I came
here. I'm studying marketing and management, and after I graduate, I don't know if I will want to
stay here or go back to China. I'll see. I don't know what I want to do when I graduate. When I was
little, I wanted to be the person who networks computers so that people can play video games together. I liked playing video games. I still play video games now. My favourite game is League of Legends.
 

When I was little I wanted to be a footballer. My favourite football player was a Turkish player called Tugay Kerimo─člu. He played for Blackburn, a small town in the North West where I'm from originally. He was just a class above the rest, in technique and everything. He was a mid-fielder. He was an old guy, 36, he couldn't run, but he was just great with the ball. I did play for the county when I was younger, so I was alright. I never had a professional level though. Now I'm doing a Phd in mechanical engineering, so a totally different field!

When I was little I wanted to be an airline pilot, because when I was 10, they said draw a picture of what you want to be when you grow up, and I drew a very good picture of an airline pilot and they put it up on the classroom wall. But sadly, I couldn't do the maths. Now I teach sustainability and environmental studies. And it's great fun, I really enjoy it.
 

My favourite toy when I was little was a red workman's torch that used to open up and I used it as a safe, I had a lot of things hidden in it. I had quite a lot of imagination so I put a lead on it and walked it around like a dog. It had a big round head on that you could put up and down. To me it was all sorts, it was a dog, it was a horse, it was a safe. I never used it as a torch. There was no battery and the light didn't work.

When I was little I wanted to be a football commentator. Now I work for a bank, so I'm miles away from that. I love football. Watching, playing it, following it, all of it. The knowledge of it, learning about players and that sort of thing. But it doesn't earn any money. My favourite football commentator when I was a kid was probably someone like John Watson, and now it's probably Guy Mowbray. He used to be on the local radio and now he's on the BBC. I did journalism at University, so I attempted to try, but that was more writing than speaking it, but then I fell out of it. There wasn't much money in it to be honest.
 

I would have loved to be a footballer. I played football, watched football all my life, my kids play football, I coach football for the junior level. My son really is into football too. Football's been a massive part of my life I think. I coach under-10s and under-7s. I like to try and get the kids to play and enjoy it. If the children enjoy it, if the children develop, it means you at least have had an impact on their life. It's nice to see them improve at being around a team, team involvement, socialising, and then move on to the next stage.
 

I used to be very sporty as a 15 year old. I used to play rugby 5 times a week. I played tennis, cricket, just played sport all the time. I don't really play any sports anymore because I'm at University. I don't really have time, I'm in my 3rd year now, just concentrating on that. I will probably pick it up again after University. Maybe I should have carried on playing Rugby though. I used to play for the rugby team at the University, but the problem is that it got too expensive. It was like "you need to start paying to play now". I had to pay quite a lot of money to play for University, and then you have to pay for your kit, for your sups, for your gym, for transport to the training facility. It adds up. And when you want to get a small student grant, it's quite a lot of money, so I couldn't really afford to do it anymore.
 

I'm Irish. I've been here for 1.5 years, and before that I was in Australia for 4 years. I went there originally for a holiday and I liked it so I ended up staying. But then I decided to move home. My brother said I should come visit him in Newcastle, so I came to visit and I ended up staying here now too. I miss my friends in Australia, and the weather, but I want to be closer to my family. I'll move back to Ireland someday.
 

I wanted to be a rock star when I was little. I was big into Guns and Roses when I was younger. I used to play the drums. I played in a few bands. And then I became a roadie, I figured you could make more money that way than being in a band.

I've never been out of the UK, never been abroad. In a few weeks I'm going away to South East Asia for 3 months. I'll go there because it's so varied there, you can see loads of different countries and cultures. I'm really excited. I've been saving money for it. My girlfriend won't come because she's too anxious, afraid of the plane. I'll travel by bus from one country to the next. My only worry is that I'll fly with Malaysia Airlines, and the last 2 planes to go down were from that company. But hopefully I'll be fine.
 

You're very elegant, what's the occasion? 


I've always dressed like this, I have for years now. It's a music thing. I play jazz and swing guitar. I used to work in the air force. It wasn't very common to be in the air force and to be a jazz musician. I was a bit on my own. I've always been that way. I spent a long time working in Germany. The Germans didn't know what to make of me either!

I wanted to be a teacher when I was little. But I became a cook on school meals. So instead of teaching children, I fed them. But I don't work now, I'm retired, I'm 65. I enjoyed my job but it was hard work. I'm enjoying my retirement now. You've got to fit it all in before you die! I try to go on holidays a lot, and out and about, while we're fit. Spain, Turkey, Cyprus, anywhere really.
 

When I was little I dreamt of being a vet. I always loved animals, dogs especially. I've always had dogs. Even as a child. I used to take the bus to go to school, and there was a Labrador in the corner shop, she used to sit at the bus stop waiting for me when I was coming home from school. That's how I've come to like them. Then we took a stray dog in. There used to be stray dogs in them days.
She used to roam around the streets. But she died in a fit. Chasing her tale. My favourite dog is Polly, the one I have now. She's 16. I seem to like her better than I've liked any other dog. She always loved children, we always had children in the house. She used to go to the beach nearly every day. She loved the sea and getting in the sea, no matter how cold it was.
 

When I was little, I wanted to be a gymnast. I also wanted to be an astronaut.I had a lot of dreams. But the biggest dream was to come here to study (Im from Japan). I was interested in studying English for a long time. My parents were against me coming here, but I talked to them a lot. They finally agreed. Because I'm a girl, they thought it wouldn't be safe for me to come here. They didn't want to let me go, and financially it was difficult. Now I've been here for 3 years, studying at Uni. It's perfect here. It's hard for Japanese people to settle here because the culture is so different, but I'm really enjoying it.
 

I got into photography at Uni. I like to take candid shots, so street photography, catching people unawares, documentary style. It’s tricky, but my new camera helps because it’s quite small, it’s not easily recognisable. I lost my passion for photography for over a year because I did some wedding photography and it became a job. But since February this year, I’ve got back into it. I went to Cuba just over a month ago and I got myself this new camera to go there. I took photos of local people in Cuba, a few classic cars. Everywhere you look there is a step back in time there. In Trinidad, down South, there were a lot of old cobbled streets, lots of horses and carts everywhere, kids on push bikes, but still with a bit of technology kicking about like cars. It’s a peculiar place, and a great place for photography. Now I take my camera with me every day at lunch time, I walk around and take photos in the street in Newcastle.

I’m studying media, film and TV studies. I’m a total film geek. Two of my favourite filmmakers are Wes Anderson and Christopher Nolan. I love the film The Grand Budapest Hotel. The way Wes Anderson films miniatures, the depth of field, everything. I also love the film Inception. Fingers crossed one day it will be me! I’m still studying though. I’m trying to prove myself. I’m the only girl in the class and all the boys think I can’t do anything. But when we did some documentaries recently they were like “wow you’re really really good!” I would like to be a director or a producer. I have a lot of film ideas!

I’m from Almeria in Spain, I’ve come here because it’s my cousin’s wedding this weekend. My dad is English but I grew up in Spain. In Almeria we are very hot now, 32 or 33 degrees. Here it’s more comfortable, there’s some fresh air. I actually like it when it’s rainy, cold and grey. I’m very tired of the sun. Always sunny in Spain, boring!

What makes you happy in life? 

 

My constant drive to achieve things that I want to achieve. And it makes me happy that most of the things that I wanted to achieve, I’ve already achieved. Like getting a degree, getting a good job, or going abroad to study. I’m from Sri Lanka, and I remember when I was 14, our teacher asked who wanted to go study abroad, and I put my hand up. 5 years later I was here studying at Northumbria, and 10 years after graduating I’m still here. I think I’m one of these people, I always think “don’t reach for the clouds, reach for the stars”. Try and reach the highest in the sky.

I’m a podiatrist, a chiropodist. 

I’d met a school friend of mine who had been a school captain. When I was little I went to an academy school in Glasgow, a catholic school. It was old fashioned, but you got to go home at night. I had a friend who was school captain. He took it on himself to befriend certain people. And I was a bit too sporty for my own good, I was in a lot of fights. And he looked after me, he calmed me down a lot when I was at school. For maybe 15 years I didn’t see him, but he’d gone to be a chiropodist with his father who had a business. I met him and he was driving a jaguar and I thought…I want one of them! And I decided I would go and study. I hadn’t seen him for years and I was more impressed by the car than by the job. But I still don’t have a jaguar. But that’s everyone’s life I suppose. 

I wanted to be an artist and live on a boat. I now live on a boat, but I own a café in town, it’s called Mog on the Tyne, the cat café. I’ve had hair like that for ages, 20 years or something. I just like it.

When I was a teenager, I dreamt of being a good musician, and I’m working on it now. I play the guitar, and I just handed in all my work for my music degree at Newcastle Uni, so I’m waiting for the results. I play flamenco, rock, anything that you can play with a guitar. I’m from Iran. I’ve been in Newcastle for 7 years. I came here originally to claim asylum, I became a refugee, due to the problems that I had back home. 

I’ve come over here to meet my dad for the first time. After 26 years. I’ve done that and now I’m on the road. I had spoken to him over the years, and I thought I’ve got to venture out, I’ve got to do something with my life. When I was growing up, all my friends had divorced parents but they were just a suburb away. For me dad was on the other side of the world, so all my life I wanted to meet him. I always wanted to look at the eyes of my maker. And yeah I finally did. But then I don’t want to stay stationery for too long, I want to get out, I want to get about. So I’ve brought my skateboard, I have all my clothes in my bag. I’ve got my girlfriend coming up next week, and we’ll fly to London and travel around the UK, and then tour the whole of Europe. I bought a one way ticket to come here so I’ll stay as long as I last. I have a British passport because of dad so I just take it as it comes.  

I’m from Angola. I’ve been here for 4 years. I like Newcastle. When I was little I wanted to be a model or a hairdresser. Now I like to do people’s hair, I do my sister’s hair, my friends’ hair. What I like the most about Newcastle is the schools. Because back home we have to pay for school, here we don’t have to pay for school, and it’s a nice town, nice city. 

About 2 years ago, I found it on a job search website. It just came up as “owl handler”, in capital letters and I was like “no, that can’t be right”. And then I was thinking that obviously you need all this experience, but when I got to the interview, he said he could teach us everything we needed to know about the birds, and train us how to hold them. He said it’s about communication skills as you work with children, and because I did quite a lot at school (voluntary work), I had that experience as well, so he was happy to hire me and train me. When I was younger, my dad gave me a really old book, a beautiful canvas covered book called “The World Book of Birds”, and I went through it every day as a kid, I was fascinated. When I was really young, I used to be able to tell the sounds of different birds, and figure out which bird it was, but as I got older all my friends took me away from the wild side of things, I played hide and seek, I kind of lost it all. Every now and then I can point to a bird and tell the breed of it. So I’ve always loved birds. So now I’m an owl handler. And then at night I work in a real ale pub. It evens my arms out, because I hold the owl on this arm, it gets really tired, and on the night I pull ale through this arm, and it levels them out!

What did you want to do as you were growing up? 

 

Chef. I love cooking. I always loved cooking. My mum loved cooking, I got my sons cooking, we all love cooking. I like cooking anything. I’m a chef now. 

I’ve always wanted just to do good work I think. I work now with people with learning disabilities, I like it a lot. I went to university but then I worked in the civil service, for Inland Revenue. But I left one day and I became a residential social worker (as it was called then). My job for Inland Revenue was boring and unfulfilling I suppose. Often I wish I was back there, because social work is difficult, but generally I don’t because it’s good. I think I’ve always been interested in that, trying to make the world a better place. For selfish reasons, but for good reasons as well. I’m not saying I’m some sort of saint, or a better person than anyone else, just that’s what I wanted to do I think. Sometimes you do things on the merry-go-round. But sometimes you stop, you get off and do something else. Well I hope that people do, they should do. Everyone should do that.

I wanted to be an airplane pilot, I wanted to fly airplanes. When I was a kid, fighter planes used to practice near where I lived. And all the other kids would be terrified, but I was just “wow!” I would come over to see the numbers at the bottom of them, they were that close. I just always loved it. But I never quite got there! That was a dream when I was really little. I had loads of other dreams along the way. I wanted to be a writer, and I still kind of do. Fiction, adventure. It’s the life that you don’t have, you can make it up on a page sometimes, to make life more interesting. 

I’m turning 16 years old next month. I play football right now, and I would like to be a professional football player. I live in Scotland and I play for Celtic. I’m left wing, I’m a winger. My favourite football player is Raheem Sterling, he plays for Manchester City. I would like to play the way he does, he’s a winger as well, like me.

I’m from Valencia in Spain.

My partner is from Newcastle and we met 3 years ago when I was an Erasmus student here. But after 3 years I decided to move here. I moved 7 months ago.

I love it here. I was really looking forward to moving. I work here as a graphic designer. I knew that I had to be in the creative industries somehow, because everything else is so boring. I like to be creative.