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My three years at the University Of Warwick were great - there was the obvious pyscho-partner issues, and the tension created by pulling numerous housemates, but on the whole it was a really wonderful time.
Well, it's located near Stoneleigh, which is near Coventry, and therefore in the West Midlands. It was built in the 60s, and is therefore a mix of a modern Uni, and a red-brick one. The place is getting bigger each year, with constant building programmes, and millions of pounds of investment, so it certainly isn't resting on its reputation - in the time I was there, a new Union was built, a new pavilion, and numerous lecture theatres, which were all very posh!!
The first thing you will notice when you drive into Warwick Uni, is the sheer scale of the place - it has a very large campus, with lakes, and woods and acres of well-maintained grounds, all beautifully planted up. There is certainly a 'wow-factor' when you see it for the first time - compared with a lot of other Unis, it is a great sight. Warwick is very campus-based, which whilst appealing to most, may not be up everyone's street. There is virtually everything you could need - bars, restaurants, launderette, chemist, pub, employment agency, travel agents, library, sports centre, supermarket, post office and the biggest Arts Centre outside London!! It is very possible to spend an entire term, without needing to venture out of campus - rather sad, but certainly possible!!!
During my three years at the University Of Warwick, I had the pleasure of coming into contact with all of the campus accommodation, as well as two houses in Leamington Spa. In my first year as an undergrad, I stayed in Whitefields, the cheapest of the campus options, before moving to Leam for my final two years. In my last year, I organised First Year Reception, so I got to have a good look around all the other campus rooms as well. And I had friends staying in different places as well, so I?ve been around a bit!!!
Prices range quite dramatically really. The cheapest is Whitefields, at just over the £40 mark, going up to Jack Martin which was about £60 in my day, so probably a bit more now!! When I was there, first years could also live in Rootes (New or Old), Westwood, Benefactors and Claycroft.
I loved Whitefields. For me, they were the flats with the most character - there was a lounge area downstairs, surrounded by seven rooms, and then another five rooms upstairs, making twelve. There was a little white kitchen with an oven and hob, two fridges and two freezers, and a few cupboards. There was never enough room for everyone, so the person who arrived first on the first day normally got the best of it!! There was two toilets, a bath and a shower in separate rooms. If you were unlucky enough to have a bedroom right next to the lounge (like me!!) the sound from the TV would undoubtedly wake you up, and I always felt a bit strange walking out into a room full of people in my PJs, when I finally crawled out of bed!! Despite these minor quibbles, Whitefields was great for me - it is located right next to the Union building, and so ideal for Union events, and for stumbling back when drunk. It was a generally sociable atmosphere, because there was always people around - whereas friends may have been reluctant to trek to some residences, no-one minded popping into Whitefields because it was so close to everything. The falt itself was conducive to making friends, as you were all so close together, unlike the corridor networks in other residences. I guess we were lucky in our flat (No 7) because we all managed to get on with each other - perhaps if there was a muppet among the bunch, it might have been a bit of a nightmare - worth considering. The buildings were quite old, were very strangely-shaped, boringly-decorated, only had one phone, and people could open the windows from the outside and climb in if you left them slightly open (!!) but we all loved it!! Maybe you will never really understand until you?ve lived there.
Jack Martin was very posh - as most other residences, it had bedrooms dotted along corridors, with a communal kitchen at the end of each area. The first thing you noticed when visiting was that it was always very hot!! The carpet was plush, and soft, the décor was very nice, the kitchens were big, the rooms were nicely sized, and even en suite!! It was more like living in a hotel than a student place. I remember there also being a lot of International Students living there, because only they could afford the rent!! My friend Craig lived there, and enjoyed it, and most people apply for it because it's en suite, but I never regretted not living there. Ideal for those used to a upper middle class lifestyle, and are at Uni to study!!
Rootes was divided into Old and New Rootes. Old Rootes was, at the time, quite tatty, with long cold corridors, manky toilets, and communal facilities. New Rootes was a bit nicer, with better carpets etc, but still fairly basic. Rootes was the biggest accommodation, and is the standard class accommodation for first years. Many of my friends lived there, and will talk of the community atmosphere in the shared kitchens. Rootes, like JM, was like a hotel - just a low quality one!! People enjoyed living there, but it wasn't really my cup of tea.
Then there was Claycroft, which was across the road from Main Campus, and therefore a bit inconvenient. I only ever felt the urge to go there once, but was informed that it was nothing special, and had corridors of incredible narrowness!! Like living in a rabbit warren - fair sized rooms, but the worst accommodation of all for me.
Westwood was miles away!! It took a good ten minutes to walk from there to Main Campus, causing many residents to skip many lectures!! It was actually like a little mini-campus of its own down there - its own bar and refectory, its own games hall and courts, its own launderette. There was always good community spirit down there, as people were all in the same boat - and not forgetting the Dining Scheme!! Students paid in advance for their meals for each week - they had a dining card, which they could use of payment in certain restaurants, and in the refectory. Many residents opted to buy their own food, to save eating at the refectory all the time, and so a bit of money could be wasted. When you actually made it down there, the accommodation was actually pretty nice, but if you like freedom of choice in your food, and are not a fan of walking, it really isn't for you!! The unluckiest students were the Maths undergrads living in Westwood, as the walk to lectures is a good 20 minutes!!
That's it really for the main options in the first year - I think a few places were available in Benefactors, which was en suite, but I really never went there - was a bit of a Drama student colony in my day I recall!!
So when the form arrives through the post asking you to select your accommodation, think long and hard about it!! If you are going to get heavily involved in the Union, go for Whitefields or Rootes. If you have money to burn, and don't enjoy communal toilets and showers, go to Jack Martin. If you like walking, or are on a Teaching Degree, go for Westwood. Don't go for Claycroft!!!
But all in all, it's the people you live with that makes all the difference, so all I can say is good luck, and have a good time!!!
The Union is fantastic - with a capacity of 2500, it was the 2nd biggest in Europe when I was there. There is the old Union, Union South, housing the entertainments venues, food outlets, 2nd Hand Bookshop, Markets etc, and then Union North, which was built in my first year. This contains the Union offices, and facilities for clubs & societies, along with a posh restaurant, Xanana's. If you are a bit of a 'Union Hack', like myself, you will spend a lot of time in these buildings - rather more than in the lecture theatres!!! There are three main venues within, The Cooler, Marketplace, and Cholo. The Cooler houses the majority of dance events, and 'minority' events, holding up to 800 people. The Marketplace is a multi-purpose venue, and holds everything from Market Stalls, to bands, to pool competitions, whilst Cholo is more of a sit down, drinking area, with quiz machines etc. All venues were refurbished in my third year, and therefore should all still look quite nice.
Food & Beverages
There are numerous food and drink outlets around campus, in different lectures complexes, in the Union, and in the Airport (University-run mini-Union-type-thing). The Union contains a very nice baguette bar, fast-food outlet, soup stall, along with the more classy Xanana's - ideal for parent visits!! The Airport has the lovely Airfare, with very nice pizzas, and some fast food, along with a fairly large bar, with rows of fixed seating - very popular with Sports Club socials and initiations!! There are a further 5 bars in the Union, including one bottle bar - prices are fairly expensive for a Union, in a bid to cut down on irresponsible drinking practices. Allegedly!! There is also a bar in Westwood accommodation block, due to its location away from the main site, and a pub The New Varsity, just outside campus, serving good food.
Entertainment was generally very good when I was there - all in the Union, which attracted some big name DJs and a few half-decent bands once in a while. There were many weekly events, including Top Banana (lots of drink, and people dancing like muppets to cheesy music); Decadance (lots of drink, and people dancing like muppets to 80s music - popular with Sports Clubs); Function (commercial dance), Quench (trance and house - my fave) and various others to suit each musical taste - each event costs around £4, with major events around £10 - so it's certainly not cheap, but many are open until 1am or 2am. There's always a pretty friendly atmosphere at most events, and most people are just out for a good time. (more in the other review!!) Then there's the Arts Centre, with shows, comedians etc on a regular basis. And of course, you have the entertainment that living with people you've never met before brings!!!
University is certainly not all work, work, work. Obviously, coming out of it with a good degree is important, but there is so much more to it than that. In fact, in terms of getting a good graduate job, if you have nothing to show at the end of Uni than a certificate, then you have wasted your time, and shot yourself in the foot.
You will never have as many opportunities open to you, than when you are at university. Where else in real life will someone give you £5000 and let your produce a play, with virtually no experience ? Where else can you meet hundreds of people with the same interests as you, all out to make friends and have a good time ? Where else can you write for a weekly newspaper, read by thousands, without going through years of struggle ?
Clubs & Societies are wonderful things - and at Warwick the emphasis really is on getting involved in these, and gaining the vitally important 'transferable skills' that they give you. They even have a whole newly-built Union to accommodate them all, and provide members with the resources to run them.
During my time at Warwick, there were some 200 societies, and 100 clubs!! If none of those appealed to you, there was also the option of setting up your own society - and the Union gave you £50 to do so!!! So, if you fancied setting up a society of people who like cheese, for example, and if you could find 30 people who shared your passion, then away you went!! True empowerment!!
I was a member of MTW (Music Theatre Warwick), RAG (Raising & Giving), The Pool Club, Community Action, 5-A-Side Football, 11-A-Side Football, among others. I produced two musicals, Little Shop Of Horrors and Crazy For You, the latter in the 530 capacity Arts Centre Theatre!! I was Deputy President of RAG, and RAG Week Co-ordinator, and captained a 5-a-side football team, which all kept me pretty busy. Before Uni, I had never done anything like this before, but just by getting involved, I managed to undertake some of my proudest achievements. It really does give you a lot of confidence in yourself to do such things, and to realise your dreams.
So when you leave Uni, and are applying for Graduate jobs, and the inevitable questions pop up - examples of when you have led a team / overcome difficulties / worked with people from different backgrounds / worked under pressure / worked to deadlines / blah, blah, blah, you will always have an answer!!
The biggest societies at Warwick were RAG, a charity soc whereby we raised money (about £30,000 a year) through having fun, Warwick Boar - the student newspaper (with in excess of 600 members!!), RAW - the radio station, and WUDS - the drama society. But these were just the tip of the iceberg. There was a chocolate society, Real Ale society, Snooker, table football, Viking and everything in between. Most societies held regular meetings, had socials, went on trips, and generally promoted and discussed their interests to meet new friends and have a good time.
I've got to mention a bit about RAG, as an example of a good active society, because it played a big part in my Uni life. Each year, we organised two charity hitches, one to Dublin, one to Edinburgh, six 'raids' to different cities, numerous Union events, a weekly pub quiz, bingo, bungee jumps, and RAG Week. RAG Week was my favourite, and was basically a whole week of non-stop RAG events, including traffic-light discos, delivery of roses, choccies and beer to lectures, and gnomings (covering victims in water and flour). In just one week we raised £10,000, with everyone having a great time. It's just not the kind of thing you could do in 'real life'!!
Facilities open to clubs & socs is excellent at Warwick. Union North houses offices, computer rooms for club work, pigeon holes, and has staff on hand to assist you with anything. Each year, clubs put in budget bids, and are given money by the Union to run their society - then students join these clubs and societies, at two fayres, in Fresher's Week, pay their joining fee, which then goes towards paying for the events which the society organises. Simple eh?!?!
Also yearly, each society has elections, whereby anyone can nominate themselves to take up a position on the executive committee of each club or society. Voting takes place between the members, and the elected persons will then take on responsibility for that society for the next year, so opportunities are there for everyone.
So my advice to you would be to get involved in everything you can - it only costs a couple of quid to join each one, so give as many as you can a good try. The experiences gained, and the friendships made, will be with you for life.
Don't come out of University with just a piece of paper!!!!!
For those of you interested in the study side of Warwick (there must be some out there!!) the Uni is excellent for both quality of teaching, and research. Most courses are catered for - obviously not to the level of the old Polys, but pretty good for most mainstream courses. The lecture facilities are improving all the time, although the Humanities building is showing its age, along with the Library, which left a bit to be desired - it was due for a refurb though!! PC facilities are fine, with a big lab of them, with the all-important internet access for those e-mails to family and friends. Warwick will look very good on your CV, and is a hotbed for potential employers trying to poach the best candidates, at the Milkround sessions.
The nearest town to Warwick, is Coventry - As you may well know, it is not the most attractive place in the world, or indeed the safest - most students opt for the rather prettier Leamington Spa for 2nd and 3rd year accommodation, even with the 30 minutes bus ride to campus. Ikon in Cov is a decent club for students, as is Mirage in Leam - Mirage is a bizarre place, and far from great, but perfect for students - I used to go there weekly!!! Both towns have a decent mix of pubs, which are mainly quite student-friendly, although a lot of townies in Cov will beat you up for having a brain!!! Then there is Warwick Castle nearby, and a few other places to go if you like that kind of thing. But in the first year, trips off campus tend to be few and far between.
There is a good blend of people from all walks of life. A strong international presence exists, making it a very good place to meet people, and to experience different cultures.
Overall, the place is wonderful! I was always proud to be a part of it, and gained so much from my time there - and a lot of friends. Unless you have a great hatred of campus-based Universities, you will love it too - maybe not all the time, but looking back, like I am now, it really will be the best time of your life, full of opportunities that just don't exist in the real world. There is a bit of competition between the Union and University, so support your Union!!!
Make the most of your time, wherever you decide to go - my advice would be to try everything you can, when you can - I tried a lot of new things, and had a great time, but I still look back with some regrets.
For students due to start in September, I would advise :
Make as many friends as possible as soon as possible Join lots of clubs / societies Be yourself Keep in touch with friends and family - you will have to go home from time to time!!! Resist the temptation to eat take-aways each day - very expensive!! Buy a very loud alarm clock - you won't go to any lectures otherwise!! Don't buy everything on the Reading Lists - many are not needed, or will be available in the 2nd Hand Bookshop in the Union Go food-shopping with your parents on arrival - they will feel useful, and you will get a month's worth of groceries for free!!! Keep an open mind - you will experience a lot of strange things!!! Enjoy yourself!!!
If you are deciding where to go, I can thoroughly recommend Warwick - just make sure you invite me up, if you enjoy it!!!
James 97480312 (1997 - 2000) Warwick Grad and proud of it!!
I'll hopefully be going to Uni in 2008, very helpful & detailed review, you sound like you enjoyed Warwick a lot =]
kimbahop 14.01.2007 16:53
Really detailed review!
Damon 23.02.2005 23:57
a great detailed and funny review. largely spot on, although i will say the opinion of Coventry is one that is common of those who chose to live in Leam. I lived in Coventry (and still do) I can honestly say i have never been chased though the street by townies. i have been chased through the streets of Leam by a load of tossers in a car - i had to hide behind a huge hotel 9burnt down now) to avoid them. also Leam is one of the most violent towns per capita in the Uk. oh, and Coventry is a lot nicer now anyway. Excellent review though ;)