The famous ‘Warwick Bubble’. Consisting of Warwick campus and Leamington Spa, the ‘Warwick away from Warwick’ where most undergraduates choose to live in their second year. In the bubble, Warwick students immerse themselves in all things warwick – POP!, SU societies and underlying fear of what Coventry has to offer. You’re expected to spend all your time surrounded by other, predominantly middle and upper-class, young people – a big culture shock for me when I started my degree. It’s a world away from the areas I had attended before university, where it was normal to need help from the college to pay for your bus fare, or to juggle caring for children and disabled relatives with your coursework. At my college, being a poor, disadvantaged ethnic minority was the norm.
I spent my first year at Warwick feeling deeply disconnected from my background, and to be perfectly honest, ashamed of it, because I was surrounded by students from completely different backgrounds. Students who claimed that being ‘working class’ is having a dad who earns over four times what my mum does in a year. It made me question, if these people are ‘working class’, what on earth am I?
I wish that I’d branched out more in first year. And I wish that more freshers felt able to do so, without the fear of being ostracised
Living away from campus in second year didn’t eliminate the dysphoria I felt, but it did reduce it. I moved to Cheylesmore, a suburb in Coventry near Earlsdon, where it became much more apparent that there’s a world away from Warwick, where being working class is normal, and where conversations don’t revolve around deadlines and corporate internships.
It was a welcomed antidote to the lightning pace of campus life, its relentless competition, and the constant imperative to do and be more. On reflection, I wish that I’d branched out more in first year. And I wish that more freshers felt able to do so, without the fear of being ostracised.
Advice articles addressed to incoming students stress the importance of throwing yourself into societies. It’s good advice – I’ve been on the Exec of two societies so far at Warwick, and I’ve made great friends through them. But such articles often omit the fact that you don’t need to do all, or even most, of your socialising with other Warwick students in order to have a fulfilling university experience.
One problem with living in a bubble is that it can blind you to how privileged you are, meaning that you take your luck for granted
You’re not doing anything wrong if you hang out with people from other universities (and Coventry University students are pretty nice, contrary to Warwick legend), or indeed if you interact with people who don’t go to university at all. In fact, you should, if for nothing else, for the sake of expanding your world view. One problem with living in a bubble is that it can blind you to how privileged you are, meaning that you take your luck for granted. Most people don’t get the opportunity to study here. Gratitude is good for your wellbeing – cultivate it.
And while Coventry isn’t the most exciting place in the world, there is fun stuff to do there away from campus that doesn’t involve getting wasted at Kasbah. And no, you won’t get knifed if you set foot in there, I promise! Birmingham is also an amazing, vibrant city and New Street is a half hour journey from Coventry Rail Station.
Some of the most academically successful students I know lead lives quite separate from the Warwick bubble. They enjoy dating people who don’t go to Warwick, volunteer locally, and never go to POP! Yet somehow they survive, and indeed thrive. Perhaps it’s because they have less social obligations because they’re less immersed in the Bubble, meaning that they are more free to focus on their studies.
When you choose your second year accommodation, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s Leamington or death
Now, I’m not calling for you to boycott POP! and elope with a Coventry Uni student. Campus and Leamington have plenty to offer, and I have no doubt that there are plenty of high achievers who fit the Warwick bubble stereotype, treating Smack like a religious duty.
But there’s much, much more to life than the bubble. So try eating out at Coventry’s Fargo Village one day. Go to a gig in Birmingham. When you choose your second year accommodation, don’t be fooled into thinking it’s Leamington or death. Make the most of what the University has to offer, but remember that you’re more than just simply a Warwick student.