A Student’s Introduction to the University of York

While on first glance the University of York may not appear the most picturesque of campuses, by the end of your first year here you will have discovered an inner fondness for ducks, lakes and all things concrete. Campus will become your haven from the harsh outside world, and, so to ensure that you fully appreciate this weird and wonderful institution, here is a short guide to York and all it offers.

The best place to eat, drink and generally mingle on campus is the Student Union bar ‘The Courtyard’, located in Langwith College. If your culinary skills are a little dubious, or you are just feeling lazy, the food here is the best on campus and quite reasonably priced, and they often have live music in the evenings. In the summer, you can sit on the outdoor terrace area with a smoothie (or something on the more alcoholic side) and soak up those rare rays of sunshine. Vanbrugh Café also does excellent baguettes and cake, and there will be a new Costa Coffee in Derwent College this year, in addition to the one already in James College, to satisfy all your caffeine needs.

If you are looking for an escape from the hubbub and clamour of your halls, or even just a nice picnic spot, the Quiet Place outside of Heslington Hall is a little corner of solace on campus. The strangely shaped bushes and immaculate lawn provide a perfect place to go if you are feeling a little delicate from Ziggy’s the night before, or even – for those more adventurous individuals – for midnight feasts on summer evenings. Just a suggestion.

I feel duty bound to mention the library, for while picnics and cake are all well and good, at some point the harsh world of work will come calling. If you need somewhere quiet to work, where you don’t have to suffer through you neighbour’s tuneless renditions of the Glee soundtrack drifting through the walls, the library is the best place to go. It has just been renovated this summer, meaning work space has increased and the facilities will be all new and shiny. It is also open until midnight most nights – perfect for a bit of last minute seminar reading.

I should also probably point out (though I’m sure most of you will deduce this on your own) that it is inadvisable to swim in the lake. In fact, if you place any value on your life at all, I would avoid dipping even your toes into that murky water. Fine for ducks, not so much for students. The University has plans to build a swimming pool on the Heslington East part of campus by 2012, so best to hold off on all water based activities until then.

For a change of scenery, it may also be worth wondering down to the Heslington East campus, which is approximately a five minute walk away from the main University buildings. It is where Goodricke College is located, as well as departments such as Law and Management, and everything there is brand spanking new. The University is planning to build more accommodation there, as well as new sports facilities and Student Union buildings, so there is much to look forward to.

If of an evening you don’t fancy that strenuous 15 minute walk into town, there is an art studio (complete with materials) in Wentworth for students to use freely, and the Drama Barn will always have a student production of some sort to tempt your interest. Stroll down to Heslington, the village adjacent to the University, for drink at the slightly grotty but very cheap pub, The Charles (wine is 99p – need I say any more) or for a slightly more upmarket atmosphere, The Deramore. My best advice to you is to explore campus as soon as you arrive, wonder its strangely winding pathways, and discover for yourself all of York’s strange quirks. Trust me, it will feel like home sooner than you think.

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