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I have just finished my 'freshers' year at the university of Leicester; and i have to say it has been the best year of my life.
The university campus is set about a mile or so out of town, next to Victoria Park and the nearby shopping area of Queen Road. I would say it is a medium sized campus which makes it extremely easy to find your place and feel comfortable when you first start. It takes about 15 minutes to walk from one side of the campus to the other. Another plus to the size is that you always see familiar faces. The student population is varied, with quite a lot of international students either here full time or on an erasmus scheme.
To the left of the campus is the more picturesque, with attractive older buildings and plenty of greenery. The other side is less pretty and is mainly comprised with 50's style blocks. However i feel the university gets most of its chracter from the huge diversity of its student population. The campus has plenty of social areas in the numerous bars and places to get food such as the popular Redfern; also when the weather is warmer many students lounge around on the big steps outside the Charles Wilson building, or on the various grassy areas.
Many areas of the university are being refurbished and currently there is a redesign on the library which includes more study spaces and computer facilities. In regards to computing facilities there is plenty to go round, either in the library or in special designated computer rooms throughout the campus and in many halls of residence. Like anywhere these do come in to huge demand during deadlines, however you can get round this by using them in off peak hours i.e. earlier in the morning and later in the evening.
Socially the university is bursting with things to do. There are various socities to get involved with from the popular Indie society to something more random as the Viking society; as well as all subjects. In addition associations such as RAG are not only full of fun, for example their yearly fashion show and theatre production, but they look great on your CV. There are also numerous sports clubs to join; most teams take part in the anual varsity matches between Leicester univerity and the polytechnic De Montfort. These matches are great to go to as the rivalry is very intense, and often amusing.
Leicester student's union is very popular with its students and recently it has seen acts such as the Arctic Monkeys perform.The two big union nights are the cheese infested Red Leicester which plays a huge range of songs from the 90's, as well as your indie and drum and bass which has a huge scene in leicester. On Fridays it is Mad fer it, which has a much wider range of music, to include an rnb room and a drum and bass room. It's usually a lot of fun, and you always get bar crawls ending up at the union in a variety of costumes.
Leicester provides accomodation for all first year students who want it, and there is quite a lot of choice. If you want to live in town then there is the luxuary Opal court which tends to be left open to mature students and those in their second and third years. The univeristy recommends their student village in nearby suburb of Oadby for first year students. Thre is the option of catered and sel-catered, ensuite or shared. All residences have inclusive internet access, and spacious grounds which are perfect in the summer. Depending on your budget you can stay in the luxuary New Hall which does resemble a hotel, someone once described it as an upper-class butlins to my amusement. It does have a reputation to being a tad ant-social but they seem to be making changes to stop that. I certainly enjoyed my time there. If you have less money to spare then perhaps one of the older residences such as Digby or Beaumont would be a better option. The only difference is really is that you have to share bathrooms and some rooms may be shared. There is genreally a better community feel in the older residences, that i probably missed out on. However i guess it is what you make it.
Transport links are pretty good and necessary as the campus and student village are pretty far away from each other. There are very regular buses (80 and 80A) which come every 10 minutes or so weekly however there are no buses on a sunday which can kind of give the feeling of being trapped.
In terms of learning there is a variety of different course, and in some course areas you are required to take a supplementary subject in your first year. I had to do this with English which i welcomed as it gives you a chance to take up a completely new subject such as a modern language, or continue something from your A Levels. Depending on your course your contact time will vary, expect around 8 hours for humanities to 35 for some of the more extreme science courses. Contact time is split between lectures and tutorials, often some courses will have compulsory workshops, and film screenings. I found lecturers and tutors very willing to help, and the work load of my first year was not to much. I guess part of that is theyu want to adapt you to university study without scaring yo with an enormous workload. TYou'll have that to look forward to in your second and third years :s
Leicester as a town isn't majorly big, similar to other towns found in the midlands. It's best to avoid the town on a weekend as that's when the locals are out, and many seem to openly object to the student presence. I would stick to the student nights, there are lots to choose from every night of the week, aprt from saturday where nothing seems to on, unless your brave enough to mix with the locals. Popular places to go are The Loaded Dog near university and cocktail bars like Time. There are two big clubs in Leicester Liquid and Zanzibar however the latter seems to have become less popular since the opening of liquid. Oadby, home to the student village, is a prosperous suburb with plenty of green areas including the Racetrack, and has small local amenities as well as an ASDA supermarket. There are buses which go directly into town, and the locals seem much friendlier than in rougher parts.
Overall i would encorouge everyone to come to Leicester university for its diverse student mix, highly rayed academic departments and striving social scene. It has definately been the most amazing time of my life, and i can't wait to get back up there.