14 June 2021
Working as a student ambassador throughout my undergraduate and now my Masters, both prospective students and their parents always ask me what the social life of being a student is like.
This question was easy to answer pre-covid, but since the pandemic started this question became more complex. I was being asked about the social life of a student, when I didn’t really have one myself (I was stuck indoors writing my dissertation and had a mountain of other work which was a massive contributing factor to this). So, I could only answer this question under the premise of pre-COVID times, and then with a disclaimer that everything that can be online, is. I could tell that prospective students were worried about getting to university and feeling isolated because they wouldn’t have the opportunity to go out and meet new people.
When September rolled around and I started my Masters, I felt the same way that all the other new students did. I moved to a new campus, and I was very lucky that I had great housemates to ease into lockdown life. But I know this isn’t the case for everyone and I understand how easily students could feel stuck in their bedrooms on a team’s call all day, on campus or at home.
Therefore, I am going to write a list mid and post COVID-19 which should help prospective students have a great student life, no matter the circumstances.
What is available now?
Student Union Societies – It is always encouraged you join a society one under normal circumstances, and even more so now as some do still run online meets, so it is a great way to meet people with similar interests to you.
Student Union Events - As soon as the pandemic started the student union quickly adapted to the new norm and held virtual events, fairs and also still hosted themed nights, such as quiz nights. All free and available to attend for ANY student.
Pubs - Depending on the guidelines, you can still get down to the pub. Wetherspoons in both Cambridge and Chelmsford are a massive student favourite (*Cheap drinks and food anyone?). Also, not to pick favourites but the Cambridge spoons is HUGE. Both towns also have a lot of other pubs to pick from- Favourites of mine include The Boathouse in Cambridge (Right by the canal and has great outdoor seating) and Mojo in Chelmsford (Great sports/games bar). You don’t need to be a drinker to enjoy the pub culture in these towns.
Dining Experiences - No not Deliveroo and Uber eats! Still depending on guidelines, both Chelmsford and Cambridge have a HUGE selection of places to eat, all varying in price, food and experience. This gives a variety of choices for hanging out with friends (or a date/partner). My favourites for both towns? Moto Pizza in Chelmsford (All you can eat!) and YO! Sushi in Cambridge (I know it’s a chain but I really love Sushi).
Shopping - This is not me encouraging you to spend your entire student loan on shopping BUT both towns have SUCH a wide variety of shops, which will make you want to abandon online shopping. Both have more than one shopping centre as well as great highstreets with both ‘high’ end and ‘low’ end shops. The Grand Arcade in Cambridge normally has student savings for a week in October and Braintree Village/Freeport (around a 30-minute drive from Chelmsford campus) has a huge student night in October also.
Your housemates! - If you do live on campus, try to make friends with your housemates. Even if you just try to organise a movie night once a week (my housemates and I have had girls’ nights a few times). It does make living on campus feel less isolating.
Hopefully restrictions will fully ease very soon and we will have the normal nightlife and Fresher’s week in September to look forward to. In the meantime, the list (which is not fully extensive) should help ease the stress of it all a little and give you something to look forward to.