A love letter to Rootes: my first year accommodation experience
I think there’s one part of my three years at University that will always truly stick with me more than the rest, and that is my first year. It can be terrifying moving away from home into unfamiliar territory and being bundled together to live with a group of people you’ve never met before. For many it’s their first taste of independence, the first time they’ll have to truly look after themselves, and to be apart from everything they’ve known for the past 18 years. By no means is it easy. I can still so clearly recall the blend of fear and excitement that consumed me as I was driven 4 hours away from home to come and live at the University of Warwick. It felt as if I were flinging myself into the unknown. There was no telling how the next three years living in this unfamiliar place would be, and whether it would live up to my expectations.
When I arrived on campus with my family, we picked up my key from a tent on campus and drove round to the car park by Bluebell and Rootes (two very contrasting living experiences). We were then helped by the “Welcome Helpers”, whom are current students, to move my stuff into where I was to be living for the next year. Rootes Residences.
Rootes certainly has quite the reputation, and I remember speaking to Ambassadors on Open Days whom recalled its tendency for the more “wild” and party-inclined (it’s nowhere near as bad as you think – I’ll come to this later). It was actually my fourth choice of accommodation, below Jack Martin, Sherbourne and (I think) Lakeside. If you can spot the common theme between those three, it’s that they are all en-suite accommodations, as this is something I was rather set-on when I chose my options.
By the time accommodations were being announced I was, however, quietly hoping that I would end up in Rootes as I had become more worried that I wouldn’t be put with overly social people, that I was about having my own toilet. So, when I found out Rootes was the place I was to be living, I was filled with both apprehension and elation for what my University experience was to be.
From the bottom of my heart, living in Rootes has unequivocally been the best part of my University experience. I’d go as far to say it was probably the best year of my life. In Rootes, I met friends for life and every single day I spent there was filled with laughter. So, it’s hardly surprising that I would recommend for people to choose it in their top preferences for accommodation (that’s if you’re looking for a more social experience, it’s not for everyone). I thought it would, therefore, be handy for me to put together this blog on some of the key things about Rootes, in order to share my experience and give you an insight into what living in Rootes is really like.
The rooms in Rootes are probably quite standard for first year accommodations in any University. You have your single bed, a wardrobe, a chest of draws, a (very big) desk, a chair, a bin, a bed side table and a sink. I don’t have too much to say on the rooms themselves, other than that they are perfectly comfortable and sized – no complaints here. There’s also a bit of space to move things around and re-arrange if you like. Rootes also is not one of the accommodations that you have to move out of during the breaks (I think usually Easter), so you don’t have to worry about moving all your stuff in and out multiple times. They’re also often slightly bigger than the rooms you would get in an en-suite accommodation, because you don’t have your bathroom taking up part of your room. Plus, having a sink definitely makes not having your own bathroom easier, because it means you can still do all your getting-ready and teeth-brushing from the comfort of your own room. And on that note…
The shared bathrooms
A lot of people, including myself, hold the preconception that an en-suite bathroom is an imperative. And, for some, I’m sure that that is the case. On the most part, however, having an en-suite bathroom is not something to fear, or to feel ill at the thought of. These people you are sharing with will likely be your closest friends, and you’re not going to feel uncomfortable sharing a toilet once you all feel like one big family. You’re also probably, unless you want to be paying extortionate prices, going to be sharing a bathroom in your second and third years when you live off-campus, so the sooner you can “get-over” the fear of having to share a bathroom, the better.
I promise you it is not that bad. Firstly, they don’t get particularly unclean because they are regularly cleaned by cleaners that will come into your accommodation (at least twice a week I think, maybe more). Secondly, in Rootes at least, there are SO many toilets for each “flat” (hall/kitchen), I think we had 5. Most conveniently, each part of a typical bathroom is broken into different rooms. So, I think we had 5 rooms just with toilets and sinks in, a few rooms with just showers in, and a few rooms with just baths in. This means you’re hardly ever in someone’s way, and there will always be something free if you need it. Shared bathroom accommodations are also a LOT cheaper to live in than en-suite accommodations, so you’ll be saving pennies at the same time…
When I lived in Rootes, the cost to live there weekly was around the £100 mark, and from checking the Warwick Accommodation website it appears to still be the same at £103 a week –https://warwick.ac.uk/services/accommodation/studentaccommodation/rootes.
This is a LOT cheaper than other accommodations, with Bluebell prices currently at £198 a week, Lakeside at £154 and Jack Martin at £180. The only two accommodations cheaper than Rootes (as currently on the website) are Cryfield Standard (£96 a week) and Whitefields (£77 a week). To me, Rootes was the perfect middle point, and I personally don’t think having an en-suite is worth hundreds of pounds extra each month. Not even slightly.
Now, I was not in the usual kitchen situation, as I think I actually ended up on the biggest kitchen on campus. There were 23 of us, but this was by no means the norm. Usually, it can be up to 19, but it’s often a fair bit less than this. You can read a little bit more about my personal experience with 23 people here –https://thetab.com/uk/warwick/2018/10/22/what-its-really-like-living-in-a-massive-rootes-flat-of-23-people-31456
The amount of people may seem daunting on first thought, and it is almost double many other accommodations. However, this is actually one of the best things about Rootes. You get to meet so many people and living with double the people means you’re double as likely to meet people you truly click with and get along with. It also means every pre-drinks is practically a party. You’re guaranteed good turnout every time. The size of everything is also relative to how many people there are. So, if there’s more of you, you’ll get a bigger kitchen, you’ll get more fridges, more freezers, more hobs, more ovens, more kitchen space, more toilets, more chairs etc. etc. You don’t need to worry about there being less space, or it being more crammed, trust me.
Also, you’re hardly ever all in the kitchen at the same time (other than for pre-drinks), or all cooking at the same time. Everyone’s running on their own schedules. Even though there were 23 of us, there were still times where there were only 2 of us in the kitchen making dinner. Plus, as I mentioned before, a cleaner will come into your kitchen twice a week, which definitely keeps any mess under control.
Living on the centre of campus
One of the best things about Rootes is also how central it is on the campus. You can practically see the Student Union and your lecture building from your bedroom. This is ideal if, like me, you’re going to want to get out of bed 2 minutes before your lecture starts and still make it on time. Of course, it depends where your lectures and seminars are typically based on campus, but for me I was never really more than a few minutes’ walk away from anything. If you’re going out to the Student Union for POP on a Wednesday night, it’s also a very short and safe stumble to and from. You’re also only a minute away from the Dirty Duck pub (try the cheesy garlic bread), the Piazza, Terrace Bar and Rootes Grocery Store. To put it into context, when we used to all get together and watch Love Island or I’m a Celebrity together in the corridors, we could just about make it there and back to grab some Ben and Jerry’s from the grocery store in the advert breaks.
The social life
As I previously mentioned, Rootes can carry the reputation to be the “party” halls of Warwick. And, yes, from my experience it is probably up there with being the more social, “party” halls. But it is not the out-of-control, up all hours of the night, never ever get any sleep environment that it is often painted to be. Don’t get me wrong, it’s a lot of fun. But if you want to get a good night’s sleep, or wake up early for a lecture, I personally never had any problems. Plus, if you pop in the group chat that you’ve got an early morning interview or you’re not feeling very well, people will be respectful of that.
In first year, we probably went out 3-5 times a week, especially at the beginning. But, plenty of people would join us for just 1 or 2 of those nights, or none at all. I wouldn’t say there was any pressure, or judgement. By the time we’re all at University, everybody should be “adult” enough to understand and respect what others want to do.
There was also a lot of halls/flats in Rootes that were a lot more quiet and reserved, and were less inclined to be going out very much at all. It really depends who you’re living with. The University, when you’re applying for accommodation, will ask you to write a short paragraph about yourself, your social life, how you feel about noise and what you enjoy, so you’re likely to be matched with people who are similar, and who you are compatible living with. If you’re looking for a good time, Rootes is undoubtedly the place for it, but don’t be scared by its reputation!
Plus, it’s not all about the nights out. Having so many people together for dinners is lovely and gathering in the corridor late at night with your duvets and snacks to watch films and TV was also one of my highlights from first year. I’ll also never forget our first year Christmas meal, where all 23 of us gathered around the table to eat the Christmas dinner we had all made and contributed to, playing games and giving out “awards” in the most over-decorated kitchen with festive tunes booming. Or, the summer days where we would all sit in the sun and sunbathe in the nearby fields and have a massive BBQ. Or, going on impromptu nights out when you decide you’re done with the library. I loved that no matter what time of the day, there was always someone free to do something, and there was always someone with their door open who you could just go into and chat to for hours on end. If you needed someone, there was always someone’s door you could knock on. It truly was a one-of-a-kind experience, and I don’t think it would have been quite the same had I not been in Rootes.
If you haven’t already gathered, I loved my time in Rootes and would recommend it to everyone. My flat were like one big family, and I wouldn’t change a thing. Without a doubt, my time in Rootes shaped my entire University experience, and it’s something I’ll always remember. What more could you want than a cheap accommodation where you can live with all of your favourite people?
If you have any more questions regarding accommodation, or anything Warwick-related, please feel free to comment below or message me.