On Campus Living and Off Campus Living

One of the distinctive qualities of Lancaster University is its campus. Located in Bailrigg, just outside of the city of Lancaster, it sits clustered atop a hill, the spire of its iconic Chaplaincy Centre peering down from above. Being located slightly outside of the city, the university ostensibly operates as its own little ecosystem – attached to Lancaster, yet distinct and separate: with shops, banks, eateries, parks and other facilities all of its own. This makes living on campus a very different experience to living off campus. I am in my second year of studying at Lancaster, and have experienced both – here I’ll go through the ups and downs of each and compare my experiences. Although most first-years choose to live on campus, as a student at Lancaster you’ll likely experience both in your time, and the choice to live off campus during the first year is there for those who wish.

Perhaps the most important thing to discuss is the accommodation. One of the great things to be offered by Lancaster’s campus accommodation is a huge degree of choice. There are a large range of accommodation types to select from, for all needs and budgets – some unique to certain colleges. These range from a standard room with a shared kitchen and bathroom, to en suite rooms, and even to townhouses – which operate more like a shared house than traditional university accommodation, with many people sharing the same large building and communal areas. When I lived on campus during my first year, I chose the Basic En Suite style accommodation – for me, this was what best balanced comfort and value for money. I lived at Bowland College, and had a room that was extremely spacious – especially compared to rooms of friends that I had seen at other universities – and shared a kitchen with three others.

Now I live in town, and my accommodation is very different. I share a four-storey house with seven other people. This is something I have greatly enjoyed. We are all friends, and having a house to yourself where you’re free to throw social events and do things together is very good. There’s always someone to chat to in the kitchen, people to study with, or someone to do something fun. However, the living situation in a such a large house working so well rests on us all knowing each other and getting along. This is one of the advantages of living on campus during your first year: you can get to know new people, and then, if you choose to live off campus in a much more communal environment, you can do so with people who you know and and get along with.

There are some parts of living off campus that take some getting used to, though: visits from cleaners are far less frequent, so its up to you and your housemates to keep communal areas in a liveable condition – and to remember when the bi-weekly bin collections are (trust me: this is easier said than done). Also, given that the university is located just outside of the city, you’ll need to get the bus to lectures. This isn’t difficult – with plenty of bus routes making their way to campus and running at very regular times, but it does mean you’ll have to leave slightly ahead of time for classes. This can be a challenge if, like myself, you’re not a morning person – no more dragging yourself out of bed at 8:59 for that 9:00am lecture.

The next thing to talk about is facilities. Living on campus, you have constant easy access to all of the university’s educational facilities. The library – which is open 24/7 – is just a short walk away. This was massively helpful for me when I needed to print something out in a hurry, get some last-minute work in for an essay in one of the study spaces, or meet with fellow students from my course for a group project. Getting to class is also easy – campus is quite contained and compact, and the Spine system means you’re never more than a short walk from where you need to be. There are also plenty of other, non-educational facilities on campus: college bars at every corner, grocery shops, banks and ATM’s, regular buses into town, and, most importantly, a Greggs for that pre-lecture pasty and coffee combo.

Living off campus, you lose some of that easy access to facilities. Buses mean its never too hard to get to where you need to be, but losing the ability to walk to the library or the Learning Zone in a matter of minutes was a bit of a loss. However, you do gain easy access to all that Lancaster has to offer: from shops and the city centre, to pubs and clubs, to cultural highlights like the castle, and transport hubs like the bus and train stations. Like campus, Lancaster itself is a rather compact place. Living near the centre, I’m never more than fifteen minutes from wherever I want to go. Being able to simply walk to the shops for food, or walk back from the Sugarhouse after a night out rather than wait for a bus was quite revolutionary for me. So, its about weighing up your priorities and what’s more important to you: a bigger house off campus, or more accommodation choice on campus? Living in a busy town, or living amongst other students and academics? Working in the many on-campus study spaces, or working in your own room? Round-the-clock access to the library, or round-the-clock access to kebab shops?

Both choices have their upsides and downsides, but for me, campus was certainly the right place to start. Lancaster’s campus was a warm, friendly, vibrant, and safe place to live; and being around so many other students and facilities was good for finding my feet and getting settled in. Saying that, now I have settled in, living off campus is great. The choice is yours, and I would recommend trying both to see which you prefer. Either way, you’ll have lots to do, be around lots of good people, and you’ll never be far from places to go and things to see.

A place to work

Dmitry library

Unlike other institutions that might provide students only with an essential equipment, Lancaster University is happy to share plenty of facilities in order to make your studying experience comfortable and productive; in this post we will discuss their pluses and minuses.

Graduate College

Plus Minus
Regarding on-campus accommodation in Graduate College, your room will have a desk, shelves for books and papers, permanent fast internet connection. Sometimes you might need extra light and probably it will be worth buying a desk lamp either from charity shop on campus or from Wilko in downtown.
College has an area specially designed for PG students – the Social Hub. It has two rooms – one quite zone for studying, with desks and a small library, and another bigger room for chilling out and group work, where you can find pool table, darts, ping-pong table and many board games. In addition, it has a small kitchen area with sink, microwave oven and free-of-charge tea. There might be cold inside, especially in winter time. So you can either put on warm cloth or ask for a portable heater from the porters.

Apparently, if you plan to have a big event in the Social Hub like birthday celebration or international dinner you must book it at least one week in advance at college administration.

Apart from the Social Hub, there is a PC zone nearby also accessible only by PG students. It has two rooms as well – one quite zone with around 20 PCs, and a room for group work where you can find big tables and screens for practising presentations. This is a quite convenient replacement to the library since it’s nearby and is almost always free. The working space at each PC is a bit narrow because of cubicles.

Library

Plus Minus
There are plenty of computers, desks and group work spaces, so you can choose from various options where to sit and work. The library is extremely busy during exam periods (December/January, April/May), hence there are not enough free places.
There is a special zone in the library that only postgraduate students can access via their library card. It’s quite roomy and usually it is not busy. It’s much quieter than the common area which is good for concentration. Unfortunately, there are no PCs available in this area, hence you need either to bring your own laptop or move to the common area since all the PCs are located there.

Management School

Plus Minus
There is a big computer lab in LUMS with more than 30 PCs. All of them have Windows 10 and MS Office 2016 installed, so those machines are quite powerful and up-to-date. This room is good for group work that requires work on PC and discussion at the same time. Sometimes this lab is used for lectures and seminars, so check the timetable on its door to see whether it is booked or not.
There is a so-called Bloomberg lab designed for students who study finance and need to work with Bloomberg software. There are about 12 computers, each of which has 4 screens. In my personal opinion, the most powerful computers on campus are located in this lab. This lab was created by Lancaster University in partnership with Bloomberg mainly for students who study finance. Thus, although everyone can access this lab, a priority access is given to finance students.