Freshers edition: Advice your mum can’t give

Finalist student Roxanne Douglas shares 10 pearls of wisdom to get you through your Freshers’ Fortnight and beyond

If you are anything like me your last few weeks of summer, before moving into halls, would have been inundated with various older and wiser people imparting a torrent of advice to aid you in the exciting new venture that is life at university.
The standard parental advice rarely is far removed from: drinking enough water, getting enough sleep, and having ‘the talk’ about the ‘birds and the bees’ for the second time (and hopefully last time) in your life. I have no doubt the advice is sage and true, but it doesn’t help you with anything Warwick-specific, so here are my top ten survival tips for life on campus at the University of Warwick:

The Post Room

You will soon find that to pick up any online splurges or care-packets from Mum you will have to find this fabled place called the Post Room in a faraway land called The Westwood Campus. You will often hear students speak of Westwood as though it’s as inaccessible as Narnia; the truth is it’s no more than a fifteen minute walk from central campus. There is a little-known bus service that runs between the Library and the Post Room to save you walking. This is also good for visiting your Westwood dwelling friends! Times can be found online at

Overdue books

There will be days when you realise, with minutes to go, that the ambitious pile of research books you checked out of the library are due in. Library fines at Warwick aren’t TOO extravagant for a normal late return, but since it’s just another money worry to have on your mind, remember this tip: you can renew books online on the Library website! As long as none of the books have been reserved you can renew them as many times as you need to for free without incurring any library fines… besides, you can always return it tomorrow.

Computer problems

If you have any serious IT problems (usually ones to do with your computer’s hardware) the support guys are hidden round the back of the Chemistry building, rather than the ones in the Library. I have found, after a mishap involving a snapped USB stick and an essay deadline hours away, that they are very helpful. You may need to book an appointment via the IT helpdesk in the library, however.

Finding your way around

Often I find I have trouble understanding what the room numbers actually mean, especially if a seminar or lecture is being held in an unfamiliar corner of campus. Sometimes, your English seminars aren’t in the Humanities building at all but in some hidden room in Social Sciences, which as everyone knows is Warwick’s Bermuda Triangle. If you’ve already scoured the map you diligently printed off to no avail there is a helpful online campus map which will pinpoint exactly where you need to go. Simply type the room code into the search box and away you go! Find it here!


Costcutter queues are longest around the changing of the hour, for about 20 minutes afterwards due to everyone leaving timetabled events. Plan accordingly; if you’re just popping out from the library for lunch try to go at quarter past or quarter to, when no one in a timetabled class will be heading in that direction, and you can enjoy the choice of Bake ‘n’ Bite items with all the time you have to spend.

Buying books

Resist buying shiny new copies of your course materials from the Arts Centre Bookshop and note down Amazon prices rather than fill your Basket straight away. Hold out for the second hand book sales: there is a general one run by the SU online soon, or there are often departmental book sales so keep an eye out. The English Literature Society traditionally run one at the beginning of the year, for example. Books are always extremely well priced as last year’s students realise they have no space left in their rooms for doorstop anthologies. Some will be covered in notes and highlights but others will be close to new. It’s worth rooting around for the best and cheapest copies of your course books.

Leaving the Bubble

Definitely venture off of campus into Coventry and Leamington Spa via bus; getting out of ‘The Bubble’ is good for you. The U1 (run by Stagecoach) takes you the quickest route into Leamington but is normally full of students. The 11 (run by National Express) takes a longer route to Leamington, via Kenilworth, but it’s a bit cheaper too – and Kenilworth is worth exploring in itself. You can get to Coventry very quickly from campus on the number 12, also run by National Express. Use sites like TripAdvisor to find some great places to eat out and make a day of it.

Warwick Arts Centre

Warwick Arts Centre is a gift: they have £6 student tickets for almost everything if you are speedy enough. These seats are near the front of the stage usually, so you have to look up at the action, but sometimes if it isn’t busy and you’re sneaky you can move to an unoccupied seat further up. Use the fact that some musical theatre, contemporary dance, stand-up comedy, theatre and much more is on your doorstep: going to things you never knew you might like for £6 a go is well worth it. Even after the £6 tickets run out, most shows have concession tickets for students or young people (under 26). You’ll never have the opportunity to see performances this cheaply and this closely again, so make the most of it!


Curiositea will give you extra hot water to re-steep your tea, so you can get the most out of your tea break at no extra charge! This campus vintage coffee shop has better prices and a better atmosphere than the Costa across the road and remember, the money you spend in your SU goes into making your SU a better facility for you and other students, not into Mr. Costa’s pocket.

Microsoft Word

This one isn’t Warwick-specific but it would have changed my life as a first year had I realised: Microsoft Word has an ‘Add Citation’ button in the ‘References’ tab that will add the citation into your work and create a bibliography. All by itself. You alter the ‘Style’ to MLA or whatever you need then you just fill in the details.


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