Advantages Community atmosphere, nightlife, city centre, Edgbaston is lovely and green!
Disadvantages Walk to campus on cold mornings, having to explain that Brum isn't skanky to everyone
|Shops & Banks|
I transferred to Birmingham University at the start of this year, having previously been at Southampton and having had a thoroughly miserable time! I'm pleased to say that I absolutely love it at Birmingham and its been so easy to settle in that I think transferring was the best decision I ever made.Transferring?
My reasons for picking Birmingham were not the best thought out, logical plans ever so its pretty lucky I like it here! I spoke to my friends who had left school and gone on to uni at the same time as me and realised that there were some unis everyone instantly loved, and some that people were struggling to cope at. Birmingham was one of the "loves". I spent a few hours wandering round the campus one wintery afternoon, visited the Bullring shopping centre, and was sold. (Although, to be fair, I was just desperate to leave Southampton and at the time, anywhere seemed preferable!).
Elgar Court is 3 years old and pretty much the swankiest accommodation going. It is arranged in single sex flats with 6 rooms per flat. En suite power showers, full length mirrors, a lovely kitchen/lounge area and all the squirrels you can shake a stick at! It can sometimes be a little noisy at night, but I've never really been bothered by this. The rooms are larger than I expected, with heaps of storage space. Elgar Court is arranged as 4 blocks, and there's a great atmosphere. Its easy to make friends and the Resident's Association organise loads of acitivities in fresher's week and throughout the year to ensure everyone settles in.Elgar Court is at the top of The Vale, about a 3minute walk from Shackleton (who we love). Shack has a Costcutter, and a couple of bars and a restaurant. It's good for a cheap night out, and I love the pub quiz on Sunday nights. (Not just because we generally go home with a free bottle of wine!) Getting into town isn't too tricky. Its easy enough to walk to the Tesco or cinema at Fiveways, (about 15-20mins away), or even Broad St for clubbing if you don't fancy paying for a cab. To get to the city centre, there's a bus from the top of The Vale, or you can walk down to the University station and get a train.
In order to get to lectures on foot, you generally need to leave half an hour before they start. That's my walking speed. Its average! On bike, its an awful lot faster. The walk down the Vale is really quite pleasant though (if it isn't raining!). The Vale is basically a big park with a lake. And squirrels. Which I may have mentioned. They're very cute. If you don't fancy walking down the Vale, you can take the canal route instead. It probably takes a little longer, and there are no squirrels, but there are ducks instead. Some people prefer ducks.Settling In
Academically, I've found settling in to be fine. The pressure to work hard is really increased in the second year, but I'm not struggling yet! My personal tutor is friendly and funny, and I'm quite confident that if I run into any problems, I wont be left to handle them on my own. (As an aside, I popped into the student office on my first day to collect a timetable, I said "I've just transferred here..." and the lovely lady in charge of second years said "You must be Katherine!". Top notch customer service! I'm not even the only transfer 2nd year!).Making friends isn't hard. I'm not quite sure where I found a lot of mine, but fresher's week was a little bit blurry. Go ring on everyone's doorbell in your block. Go to the bar. Invite everyone back to your flat for some drinking games and you will have a load of new best mates. Simple!
As a second year, I've already had to submit coursework, despite being only a few weeks into the year! Whilst this was a bit daunting, being thrown in at the deep end has helped in a lot of ways. I now know where the library is, and other such useful things! Finding books in the library is simple enough, and people really are willing to help you.
The Library is huge. 8 floors and open ...well, open every time I've been. Unless you want a book at 4am on a Sunday or something bizarre, I think you can pretty much take it as given that it'll be open. Its really simply laid out and there are sheets showing where different book codes are located to save first years getting lost and being found three weeks later under a pile of journals.The IT facilities are really good. New flat screen computers, all fast running and with the relevant software. I've not had a problem getting a computer in uni, but I tend to do most of my work at home anyway. (And Elgar Court has internet access included in your accommodation fees).
I'm not the world's most sporty girl. I think of exercise as shopping carrying a heavy bag. Whilst I've been here though, I've signed up for swimming facilities at the Munrow Sports Centre and I've actually been a few times! Swimming costs £58 a year and the facilities are entirely average. Its clean and the pool is generally not too busy, but the changing rooms could do with some revamping. I cant comment on the other sports facilities as I haven't (and probably never will) used them.
Broad St is the place to go for a night out. It's just a street of bars and clubs and can get pretty manic most nights. Student nights at the clubs are great, there's rarely any touble and everyone has a good time. I also really like the canals because they're pretty! Although there probably is a risk of falling in whilst drunk. As long as it isn't me that falls in, I dont mind though!The Bullring is a lovely shopping centre, really mixing old and new. Every shop you can think of can be found in Birmingham so you really will have to watch your bank balance. Evil corporate geniuses exploiting my gullibility and student loan....
There are a couple of things about Birmingham that I'd change if I was in charge though. The doctor's surgery is a bit too far away for my liking. Okay, so it's a 35 minute walk, but I only have little legs and if I was ill, I'd be a bit screwed!
To conclude, Birmingham is great and I love it lots. I've only been here a month and I already feel like this is my home. There's always so much going on - I'm going to visit the Sea Life Centre this weekend. I may write a review on it!If you have the opportunity to come to Birmingham, don't pass it up!
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