University of Warwick- My Insurance Choice

When I was originally looking at Universities I had no idea where I wanted to go. So I decided to make a list of the things I ‘needed’ out of a University and a list of the things I ‘wanted’.

Location.

I started this process by looking at a map. I am going to be honest, my Geography skills are truly appalling- from this I decided how far away from home I was willing to go. As a complete home bird, I decided that three hours was the maximum for me, which automatically ruled out a fair amount of Universities. University was rather daunting to me and the idea of being able to get on a train and be home within the day was greatly appealing. Of course, this is a personal preference and it’s most important that wherever you choose to go, no matter how far, you’re comfortable.

Transport.

This leads smoothly onto the next thing on my list- transport. Having visited King College London, I realised that the hustle and bustle of London and the constant use of transport to get to and from lectures and seminars, was not for me. I loved the idea of the full on, hectic and movie-like lifestyle of London, but I actually found it rather overwhelming. This was where I started to realise that I quite liked the ‘bubble’ campuses, where everything was close together. Of course, I was open to using trains, buses and even tubes, but I didn’t feel that London was for me. Certainly, as a second year, checking out transport is crucial- living in Leamington Spa this year means that using a bus is part of my normal every day routine. With this, there are at least two big train stations to get home quickly. Transport is definitely worth considering when choosing a University. At this point I had narrowed down my search to Royal Holloway, Oxford Brookes, Exeter, Southampton and Warwick.

Employment Opportunities and League Tables.

Certainly, these are not to be forgotten. Warwick is currently 8th in the country for the Complete University Guide of 2017. Even when considering where you would like to study your degree, it’s a good idea to consider the opportunity that specific University can give you. Not only does Warwick have great Graduate Employment, but also has a number of events which welcome employers into the University. Also, unlike some other Universities, Warwick is in a great location for employment- with easy routes to Birmingham, London or even more locally- Coventry and Leamington.

Can I see myself here?

Having lived in Southampton all my life, it seemed silly not to check out Southampton University. There are so many benefits with going to a local establishment, rent can be cheaper, less student loans and of course transport is easier when you don’t live too far away. However, there are also disadvantages- you don’t automatically form the relationships with your flat mates (of course you can with those on your course) and it’s not as easy to go ‘out’. Whether that’s clubbing, going to the pub, a restaurant or even chatting with a friend to the early hours of the morning. So I would highly recommend considering these when choosing your University. I personally was not put off by these disadvantages, in fact the University itself just didn’t feel right. My parents were certainly pretty keen for me to fall in love with Southampton University- we did two open days. But everything was very familiar and not overly exciting as a result. I just couldn’t see myself there.

I was so nervous about University and leaving home, but visiting the University of Exeter made me love the idea. They were so enthusiastic, everyone was so friendly and the whole campus was green. Just so pretty, with lovely big trees, huge buildings and beautiful accommodation. Plus it was within my three hour radius. I fell in love with Exeter and I could see myself there.

First Impressions of Warwick

Despite absolutely loving Exeter, Warwick was my second choice because I felt I could see myself here too. Though it wasn’t as green, Warwick was, and is, the perfect ‘bubble’ campus. I loved the mixture of buildings, the coffee shops and restaurants on campus and the open spaces to socialise- people studying at Warwick seemed really happy.

Why am I at Warwick now?

Exeter offered me: A*, A*, B for my History degree, and I was on track to achieve this. However, when it came to exam results, I didn’t reach them, instead I got A, A, B and an A* in my Extended Project. Though Exeter offered me a History of Renaissance Course, I rejected the offer as I had been offered a place at Warwick. There was absolutely no sense of disappointment as, over the summer, I had had a lot of time to think, and was actually starting to question my choice. Warwick was higher in the league tables than Exeter, had better student satisfaction and much higher levels of Graduate Employment.

I have a genuine belief that things happen for a reason, I am unbelievably happy at Warwick, I love the course, the campus and the surrounding area. I consider myself super lucky to be here.

My Favourite Study Spots on the University of Warwick Campus

The University of Warwick has plenty of places to study, but I have 5 top places I prefer, all for different reasons.

The Library

When I have looming deadlines and can feel the pressure, the library is usually where I head. Doing a History Degree, as with other courses, means that besides essays, I have seminar preparation, or pre-reading. This can vary from minimal reading to crazy amounts (of course, skim reading is a skill I picked up pretty quickly!). The library is ideal when I’ve got shed loads of work and need complete silence- the top three floors are silent areas. However, my friends and I often meet in the library on the first two floors, so we can get work done and have a natter while we’re at it. Also, the first two floors allow food and hot drinks, which I love. Another bonus of the library is the seating areas, despite being pretty busy, the library is full of sofas and tables depending on your preference, along with computer access and printing resources if you require them. Essentially, the library is where I get the most work done.

The Library Cafe

I am not one of those people that can work in a lot of noise, I find it very hard to focus if people are talking to me, or if I can hear conversations. But, the library café is potentially one of my favourite places to go. It’s loud enough to drown out specific conversations and there is almost always a table. Plus they do some pretty good coffee, and if you’re lucky crepes!

Curiositea

Curiositea is one of my favourite parts of campus, I am definitely more of a coffee shop girl than a clubber. I love being sat in a vintage tea room, surrounded by cake and studying, especially right at the start of the day, when it’s completely silent and I can nab one of the comfy chairs. Again, Curiositea is loud enough for the noise not to disrupt my train of thought. Its definitely my favourite place to go on Campus with my friends and after a big deadline we treat ourselves to a slice of cake- my favourite is the Red Velvet!

The Learning Grid

I always love the idea of going to the Learning Grid but I found it completely depends on what time of the day you head over, as to how likely you are to get a seat. Split into silent and non-silent, the Learning Grid is a pretty quiet and relaxed study space. It’s also right next to Costa Coffee- bonus! I often head over there if I intend to do work on my own or am on campus particularly early or particularly late. If you’re lucky you can get one of the sofas.

Fusion

Putting aside how much I adore the food at Fusion (especially the chilli beef with rice!), it’s actually a great place to get work done. When campus is buzzing and finding a space to study, where you aren’t squished against a complete stranger, is proving difficult, then Fusion is my go-to. Not very many people go to study there, but its relatively quiet and, when it’s not peak food time, I can get a lot of work done. Plus I don’t think I have ever studied there and not had an entire table to myself. If I’m having a rough day, a portion of fries helps with the studying.

I hope this was useful and maybe if you’re on campus you could check these spots out and see where you can see yourself studying. If there are any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!

Managing my University Finances

Financial situations vary between University students, and the loans therefore depend on personal circumstance. But in this blog I am going to give a quick run-down of my top-tips for saving money and how I make it last each term.

Food, glorious food!

I split my annual money into three (for the three terms at Warwick) and calculate my budget accordingly. So, during First Year, I worked out- through trial and error- that I could live off of a £20 to £25 food budget per week. However, the first food shop is always the biggest, so if you’re a Fresher, do not panic, the first shop is the one that will last the longest (but also cost a tad more!).

At the beginning of each year I make a huge list of my University necessities and divide them into categories. For example in my Hygiene Category I have a list that varies from surface wipes and tissues to tooth paste and soap, all of which you usually don’t need to buy in your weekly shop.

Another Category that will bump up the original University Food shop is the Tins and Long Lasting Foods, such as pastas, tins of tuna, baked beans, rice- the student basics- or even coffee and tea. I also like to think of these as a back-up in case you haven’t managed to get to the Shops and have limited food supplied.

Finally, of my long-lasting Food Shop Categories is the Frozen Food- I always make sure I have at least one frozen meal in my Freezer shelf, along with keeping frozen fruit and a selection of meal options. Again things like Fish Fingers will last one person quite a while, unless you eat 10 a day.

Now we come onto the pricy part… the fruit and vegetables. I did not realise how expensive these were until I came to University. However, I am determined to live a healthy diet, so I just vary my fruit and vegetable variations each week. I absolutely love avocado and pineapple (not together of course!) but they are both more expensive than your average bag of apples or bunch of bananas, so I will choose one or the other each week to remain in my budget. A hack that I also picked up was that the bags of frozen fruit are far cheaper and you get shed loads more, plus there is usually a sneaky section in the fruit aisle full of the things coming to the end of their dates- so I always check those!

So, the first shop is always going to be pricier, but check your cupboards before shopping, make a list and don’t forget to pick up a treat every now and then! I have a weakness for crisps, so I always pick those up if I have a tough week coming up.

I am a definite believer in retail therapy.

Retail therapy is cheaper than normal therapy, and is often required around stressful periods in a degree. This morning I really felt the deadlines piling up, the internship applications closing, the summer job applications needing to be filled in and the complete lack of energy and self-confidence. So I went shopping. I didn’t spend loads, but it was enough for me to feel like I was taking some time to myself. However, one of the most important things to remember is to ask if the shop does student discount- I am one of those people who will ask in any shop. If I can get my 10% off I will!

Coffee Shops.

As previously stated in my blogs, I am definitely more of a coffee shop gal than a clubbing girl. My favourite place to have coffee on campus is Curiositea, where a large tea or coffee costs just over £1. I am also a massive fan of any form of point system in coffee shops, including the stamps- Curiositea offers every tenth drink free, and I spend a fair amount of time drinking there, so it’s well worth it. Plus I have a Costa card in case I fancy switching it up. These sorts of systems are all over campus and I make sure to utilise them.

Trains.

As a home bird, I go home quite frequently, and from Leamington Spa/Coventry Rail station it can cost from £50 for a return to Southampton to £70. So I bought a rail card- it costs me £30 a year (or £70 for 3 years- which I should have done!) and is SO worth it. I save a hefty chunk of money.

Job.

I have only recently, in my Second Year, become a Student Blogger- which I love. But I also make sure I am working in between Terms as much as I can, just to make it that bit easier. During the holidays I work with a nursery agency, called Wizard Staff Solutions, who send me to different nurseries where I cover sick staff or those on holiday. This contract requires me to work once every 3 months and is so flexible. So that’s just another way to save money. I also know lots of people who have a job on campus- whether that’s in a restaurant, a bar, a coffee shop, a food shop or even for the SU or gym- or even off of campus.

I hope this is helpful! Every university situation is different and it’s pretty easy to fall into a routine or pattern and work out what works best for you in terms of money. If you have any questions, please don’t hesitate to ask!