A huge part of making the move to university lies in putting roots down in a new home and building the sense of a ‘home away from home.’ This undoubtedly has so much to do with where you end up living and it’s really important you find the right place for you. Equally, I think it’s fair to say that wherever you end up living, your uni experience really is what you make it – it’s the people you meet and the societies you join that will be more likely to shape your experience. And if you end up in a really difficult situation, it’s always possible to be reallocated to a new accommodation, so never fear! Right now, the new academic year is edging nearer and if you’re a prospective fresher you may be feeling curious about where you could be living in just a couple of months time, so today I thought I’d give you an insider’s view of life at Westwood.
At Warwick, the majority of 1st year students live in halls on-campus, typically moving into shared private accommodation in either Leamington Spa or Coventry from 2nd year onwards. During my first year, I lived in Westwood halls of residence (which happened to originally be my fourth choice on the accommodation form, however I am so so glad things turned out as they did because I absolutely loved my year there!).
Here’s some of the information I felt you’d find most useful…
– Westwood is situated further out than most other accommodations and is a 15-20 minute walk away from central campus. This may sound like a lot but once you’ve been here for a while it honestly feels like nothing at all! And if you’re concerned that the walking doesn’t sound like much fun, there is a shuttlebus which runs regular services across campus. I found that to be really useful if ever the weather was particularly bad. The main road in and out of campus also runs past, with bus routes into Coventry and Leamington Spa being very accessible.
– Every cloud has a silver lining and in spite of the above, Westwood is in many ways hugely convenient in its location and proximity to facilities. Cannon Park Shopping Centre, where most Warwick students do their grocery shopping, is literally 5 minutes walk from Westwood, which is fantastic, especially when it comes to lugging the weekly shop home! Westwood also has Amazon lockers, the student postroom where you can collect your mail, and, if you’re sporty, you’ll be pleased to know that the athletics track and sports pitches are just 5 minutes down the road.
– It’s really leafy, with plenty of green spaces. During exam season I used to take a circular walk round Westwood almost every evening when I could, and often sat outside to revise. There’s a bandstand and plenty of benches / scenic spots to make the most of and I have found it really calming and relaxing. There’s also squirrels everywhere and if you’re lucky, you may spot the occasional rabbit or fox! This past year 2 mallard ducks could frequently be seen outside my building when it rained, and it was simply a lovely sight to see.
– Westwood Café is a lovely place to eat, study or catch up with friends; it’s got a really positive atmosphere! The building also has an IT suite,which means that you don’t have to trek to the library on central campus in order to find a printer or workspace.
– I was especially lucky in that my department is right across the road, a 2 minute walk away! Millburn House is the base for Theatre & Performance, Film & TV, History of Art and Creative Writing (as well as – rather incongruously – the Ion Cyclotron Resonance Laboratory!). If you study any of these subjects you’ll find living at Westwood fortunate when it comes to 9am starts or being able to get home quickly after a long and tiring day of rehearsals.
– We have the Avon Drama Studio here too! If you’re involved with certain performance societies you may end up having rehearsals here. It’s a lovely space and good to have it so close by. Whilst the Arts Centre has been refurbished, the Music Centre has also been temporarily based at Westwood for 2017-18, which was great for me as I spent a great deal of time singing there in the practice rooms! However the centre will probably be moving back to central campus from the autumn.
– The rooms are some of the biggest on campus; I found mine to be really spacious; there was lots of floor space, with large windows making it really light and open. The noticeboard was huge & I enjoyed filling it with photos from home as well as posters and programmes/show tickets accumulated bit by bit over my first couple of terms at Warwick. As you might be able to tell from the photo above, I even decorated my wardrobe doors!
– Accommodation prices can vary from one year to the next, but Westwood is typically low to mid priced (I think it was just over £100 a week this year) and bearing in mind the spaciousness, is therefore a good value, affordable option for freshers.
– Perhaps rather less favourable is the number of people sharing kitchen and bathroom facilities. Each floor in my block had 4 showers (among around 20 people), and 2 kitchens (around 10 people in each). I was dreading this in advance of moving in to Westwood, however the reality was far better than I’d expected. The cleaning staff come in every weekday so everything is kept to a high standard, and despite sharing with so many people I never had to queue for the bathroom. Admittedly, there were times when I had to wait for oven/hob space, and the kitchen could get cluttery, which was frustrating, but nothing really so terrible! The laundry facilities weren’t fantastic, with only 1 washing machine and tumble dryer for the whole building, which meant there was often a queue, however again, as a student you just get on with it and this did not detract from my enjoyment of life at Westwood!
– Campus is wonderfully vibrant and busy, but nevertheless something of a bubble. Westwood would probably be especially suited to you if you prefer being a bit more removed from the centre of things. Living there, I always felt far enough away for it to be somewhere to ‘get away’ from the occasional stresses of work and uni life, without being so far as to be cut off from everything. The corridor style layout of Westwood blocks also lends itself to a sense of community, as you quickly get to know the people living with you, especially those in your kitchen! However, if you’re looking for ‘party halls,’ Westwood isn’t exactly wild, tending to be a bit more small-scale and low-key due to its distance from central campus.