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About a year ago now, I was in my second year of college and a big scary decision was looming upon us-it was time to make our UCAS applications and decide where to spend the next three years of our lives. Not something to be taken lightly, I went to all of the fairs, took all of the free stuff offered to me by eager representatives (I have so many pens now it's ridiculous) and devoured the prospectuses as my daily reading. For a while, I had my heart set on Imperial college, London. Then my dad pointed out to me that my entire student loan would probably be blown just getting around that city, never mind the odd tipple here and there. So that plan was out of the window and it was back to square one.
Choosing my uni was a balancing act. I wanted to find somewhere I would love, obviously, but also I wanted to go somewhere that would make my dad happy, after his disappointment that I didn't want to apply for Oxbridge. That was how I ended up picking up the warwick prospectus and giving it another look. Initially I had rejected it straight off as a campus uni. I'm originally from Liverpool even though I now reside in the Cotswolds, and the thought of being trapped in a bubble with one nightclub and everything and everyone in one place sounded like a nightmare. My vision of a campus was concrete with a launderette and a cafe and nothing else. I wanted a city uni, that was that, but looking through the prospectus I was pleasantly surprised. It looked BEAUTIFUL!! Lakes, greenery, sculptures and modern art, one of the biggest student unions in the country (and voted the best) I decided it was worth having a look.
On the open day I fell completely head over heels in love with the place. It was modern yet traditional and had gorgeous buildings and the aformentioned lakes and trees (along with lots and lots of squirrels). The fact that it ranks amongst the top ten universities every single year despite being only 30 years old was also a big draw of course. So I put it as my first choice, got my offer, sat my A Levels, and the rest is history!
That is the story of how I came to be here in the first place. I have now spent my first term here and whilst ten weeks may not sound like a very long time to form a real opinion of the place I can assure you that the bubble is such an intensive environment, I feel like I have been there for years already.
Of course no open day can tell you what it is really going to be like, so here are my experiences of Warwick university so far...
My course is biological sciences, therefore my experience is very different to someone doing say humanities. I will do my best to tell you what I do know about other subjects from the people who I know doing them. I have myself around 20 contact hours a week, There is one tutorial where you are groups of four or five, spending about an hour a week going through set problems/essays/presentations one on one with your assigned tutor. Different tutors have different styles but on the whole they are completely human, nice people who genuinely want to help. You have to bear in mind though that this is not school and they are not there to spoon feed you. They expect maturity, an eagerness to learn and research in your own time, and enthusiasm for the course. In return they give you the best of their knowledge and treat you as an adult, for possibly the first time in your life.
In addition to tutorials there are labs, which you will no doubt have a love/hate relationship with. Whilst it is fun to mess around with cool equipment, wear silly coats and generally do fairly enjoyable practicals, they are not school labs. They take HOURS. A block from 11 to 5 on thursdays is allocated for labs and they do take that long sometimes. Not the most sociable day for scientists. As well as this, remember those lab reports you had to produce for science coursework at GCSE? 5 or so pages writing up an experiment in loads of detail and doing analysis and stuff? You have to do one of those EVERY WEEK! And the hand in day is tuesday, the morning after top B (we will come back to top B, but I assure you having a deadline the day after top B is a BAD THING!).
The remainder of the contact hours are made up of non-compulsory lectures. While they are non-compulsory I strongly suggest you do at least try to go to them. Obviously noone can honestly say they have never missed a lecture but this stuff WILL come up again and you WILL wish you had been there. The lecturers range between cool guys who make jokes and bring the stuff to life and fairly monotone old men who read powerpoints. It is all beneficial though, especially if you can stay awake. And this brings me to the downside of biology. We have lectures in huge lecture theatres with lovely warm seats and noone to notice if you fall asleep. And you will. It is physically impossible, I have decided, to not get at least a little drowsy during a lecture. Dose up on caffeine, that is my advice to you. Every week or two we get a multi choice test on the last block of lectures, which is when you will kick yourself for all of those times you fell asleep. Pretty much all the lecture notes are given out as handouts or are on the uni intranet though, which helps as it means you can actually listen instead of madly scribbling down notes. It only contributes to the ease of napping though....
Humanities get a LOT less hours than science subjects. Maybe as few as 8 a week, but they also get a LOT more to do outside of lectures than we do. They seem to constantly have essays and reading to do whereas us scientists 'just mess around with test tubes' as they say. They do all make fun of us monday night though when we are madly trying to get our lab reports done though.
Maths people have so much work to do maths is rigorous at Warwick and they're always on their rooms working on problems. It is of course beneficial in the long run in terms of employability (and healthy livers) but not the most sociable subject. Another big one in terms of outside work is law. Case study after case study after case study....
Accomodation is very dependant on how much you want to spend and what type of person you are. I personally live in Cryfield, the cheapest accomodation at £66 a week. It looks a little bit like someone painted a prison yellow, we share a kitchen between ten and a bathroom between twenty (thats four toilets and three showers) which might sound rank but it's actually a great setup. I've never once queued for a shower or toilet, so why should I fork out an extra £40 a week just for the luxury of having my own? I like our little cramped kitchen, it's one hell of a community and in that kitchen I have met friends for life. We get along so great and to be honest, we don't spend that much time in our rooms anyway, so why do we need a big one? It tends to be that the cheaper accomodation blocks have more fun too, Rootes is the largest and most legendary block in terms of parties, but Cryfield isn't too far behind. Places like Jack Martin and Arthur Vick , which you will pay over £100 a week for, are palatial and gorgeous but the people there have a reputation for going to bed at 9 o'clock.
Some practicalities of the blocks. You have wardens who are there to shout at you for making noise and fine you for being bad. Try and get them on your good side, it's worth it. You have cleaners, who you will hate. They will moan at you constantly and wake you up at 9 because the kitchen is untidy. You basically have to clean the kitchen before they will clean it, but you will miss them on the weekend when they don't come round and the kitchen descends into chaos, a literal chicken fat all over the floor and humous all over the ceiling type situation.
You have to do all your own washing in the blocks that they provide, which are ok if a bit of a ripoff at £2 a go. You have to provide all your own kitchen stuff bar microwave, cooker, kettle and toaster, and wash all your own dishes and stuff. All accommodation is self catering as well, so learn to cook! It's very sociable though, and I wouldn't change my block for anything, I have met the most fun and wonderful people and we have so many memories already!
After the first year, you live off campus, and most people live in nearby Leamington Spa which is an absolutely gorgeous town with a big student presence, tons of shops, picturesque buildings and a fair few decent clubs with student nights.
FACILTIES ON CAMPUS
Remember my image of a campus with nothing on it?
Well we have an arts centre which is very posh, with a cinema and stuff where they do proper plays that the public can see and everything.
The library is HUGE and has just been redone. It has everything you could need, if a little too few computers, but I would recommend you take a laptop with you anyway. Noone really spend that much time there, but it is there and open late if you decide at 11pm that you know absolutely nothing and need to do some emergency education.
Shopping wise, the campus shop is costcutter, your new best friend. I wouldn't recommend doing any food shopping there as stuff tends to be a bit old, especially bread, but its location 5 minutes away from everywhere is great for late night alcohol runs...
Tesco is just off campus, about a 15 minute walk from my block. It's in a little place called cannon park which also has things like a boots, new look, birthdays, wilkinsons and other shops which come in handy. Try to food shop in tesco rather than costcutters and take full advantage of tesco value, for whilst it is not tasty, it is cheap, and that is the student mantra.
We have a pretty massive sports centre with nice modern gym facilities, a huge pool and tons of exercise classes. I would recommend joining in order to work off your poor diet and alcohol weight...
The student union is a massive building, which next year is apparently being knocked down to make an even bigger building, unfortunately in the meantime I hear they're going to put up a huge tent in its place, ooops... In the current union there is boring stuff like administration offices and that, but also the more interesting stuff like battered the fish and chip shop, xananas the nice little restaurant, rococo coffee lounge, cholo bar, the grad bar, the pool halls, the cooler which is the site of alternative student nights, and the marketplace, the main club area for the mainstream nights. That brings me nicely onto....
As a city girl at heart, this was my main worry about coming to warwick. I imagined being bored night after night in the same old bar. Never fear. First of all, the union puts on tons of themed nights so there is always an excuse to dress up in silly costumes and get funny looks from people. So far I have already dressed up in nu rave gear, silky pjs, as an angel, as a devil, as a superhero, james bond themed, and in school uniform! The main night is Top Banana, which you will LOVE. £1 entry and £1 drinks is all you need to know, but also the music is pretty good, with good dance music in the marketplace and hip hop in the cooler, its a dance fest. Other nights include Score! which is pure cheese (think the spice girls), Pressure which is drum and bass, Renegade which is funk, soul and RnB, Flirt which is pop and dance a bit like Top B, Crash which is rock and metal, and my favourite Electric City which is dance and indie (think Hot Chip, Blondie, CSS and Arctic Monkeys). The union also hosts tons of gigs for everyone. Bear in mind that a union can't exactly get the biggest names in music, but so far I've seen the Go! Team, the Whip, Scouting for girls, Pendulum and the mighty We are Scientists in our very own marketplace. Also people quite often come and host the themed nights, we've had Amerie, East 17, Sky from Neighbours, Kavana, Roy Walker, Pat Sharp and more!
So that's the union. You also have the option of going into Leamington, which is a good idea on a tuesday when nothing good is on at the union, go to Evolve instead which has separate rooms for indie music, dance music and RnB, plus £1 vodka red bulls. On a thursday its more of a hardcore dance night, but it's stil £1 for a vodka and red bull so who cares if you're not into dance really?
I can however honestly say, that the best times of uni do not come from the nights out, but the nights in. All those times we gathered in the kitchen with bottle of alcohol and packs of cards and somehow managed to invent new drinking games every time. You will never be bored, I promise.
In terms of societies, there are millions. No matter what you are into it's probably here in some form, and if it's not you just have to find 30 people who would be in your society and you get money to set it up! Some of the most noteworthy ones are RAG, who do silly things like throw flour on lecturers and dress up in silly clothes for charity, all the subjects have a society too, and there are millions of cultural ones to cater for Warwick's strong international presence. There are loads of sports ones too, from the typical football to ultimate frisbee and my personal favourite, dodgeball. Even if you've never done it before don't worry, probably noone else has either. Or just join the chocolate and cheese society...
So would I recommend my uni? The answer is YES YES YES YES YES YES. I honestly cannot wait for the next three years of my life and whilst it is true that the social life and people will be amazing no matter which uni you go to, I promise there is nothing better than having all that fun in such beautiful, safe surroundings with everything within stumbling distance. The atmosphere is amazing and you also come out at the end with a degree that demands respect. The truth is that employers value warwick students. They know that our courses are demanding, and they are, but don't worry, there is still plenty of time for play as well as work...
GO THERE. That is all I can say. Even if you're from London and can't imagine living on a campus, some of my best friends are from London and they love it here just like everyone else!