A level results are in, and you’re on your way to York. But what is university really like? PhysSoc rounded up some of the University’s finest minds to help answer that question, giving their thoughts on freshers’ week, the city, and the campus.

The Campus

If all your knowledge of the campus comes from the prospectus, you might expect it to look something like this:


Heslington Hall

and you may be a little surprised to find that it looks more like this:


Derwent College B block

But despite looking like it was airlifted directly from the former Soviet Union, the campus must have some saving graces. Any hidden gems?

A really nice place to sit is the wooden bench at the edge of Greg’s place, especially on a nice day (but it’s rarely free) and if you feel like taking a detour then there is a small side path just before Derwent that has a big buddhist shrine which is nice to see and usually has flowers and offerings, surprisingly lots of people didn’t seem to know about [it.]

Hui, second year

Heslington Hall. Beautiful old historic building, just a shame we don’t get to use it at all.

Sam, second year

If you sit on the benches in Sally Baldwin you can hear all different musicians and singers which is quite cute.

Rebecca, second year

The campus waterfowl are somewhat less hidden. Indeed, the University of York is home to more ducks than any other university in Europe (or probably the world). This is quite cute. The geese, however, are less cute — especially when they have goslings to defend. Stay well clear.

But for all its quirks, the campus will be your home for at least a year, before you bravely venture into the uncharted depths of Tang Hall. So what’s it actually like to live there?

What’s the best thing about living on campus?

If you’re lucky then you’ll have great housemates and you become like a second family and it’s like having a sleepover some nights, you have people you live with who know what you’re feeling in exams and there is always someone to go and chat to.

Hui, second year

Best thing is that you’re so close to everything going on and you can roll out of your bed 10 minutes before a lecture. [And] the vast range of societies. You think of it and they’ll more than likely have it.

Sam, second year

Not having to clean up your own sick

Ted, third year

And the worst?

Probably the kitchens, due to the fact that however hopeful you are and even though you clean it once a week they are probably going to be disgusting; due to them being disgusting, you having to clean and clear them every week for them to be cleaned.

Another thing would probably be when you didn’t go out the night before but have to wake up to a corridor and kitchen smelling incredibly strongly of alcohol and with floors and tables covered in spilt alcohol. It doesn’t really make getting up and having breakfast for 9ams any easier.

Hui, second year

You don’t get to choose who you live with, which for me at least was no biggie — everyone will speak to everyone else without so much as giving it a second thought!

Dan, third year

Worst thing has to be those bloody geese. They may be cute, especially the baby goslings, but they aren’t half annoying in the spring when they’re aggressive.

[Or] if your flatmates are being loud late at night. Walls aren’t very thick and the doors always slam so be prepared for a few sleepless nights.

Sam, second year

Having to do weirdly specific cleaning once a week… for the cleaners

Rebecca, second year

Campus gives us a lot to complain about, but it’s also where you’ll spend some of the best years of your life, and you’ll love it. I’ll let Hui sum things up:

Simultaneously [the best and worst thing about York] would be the campus. It can look stunningly beautiful or like a very ominous concrete jungle and the geese are both funny and irritating but the negative points just give rise to many jokes any York student can join in on.

Freshers’ Week

You move in. You’ve barely begun to unpack when some strange people in colourful t-shirts come knocking on your door. “Hi,” they say. “We’re your STYCs; it’s our job to get you all horrifically drunk.” After all, what better way to avoid feelings of awkwardness around your new housemates than by emotionally crippling oneself with alcohol?

But you don’t have to touch a drop of alcohol to have a great time in freshers’ week! Most colleges put on some more casual non-drinking events in the evenings for those who don’t want to go out, and some of the best nights are spent just chilling with your new housemates and getting to know each other. Freshers’ week is an opportunity to form lifelong friendships, but it’s not the only chance you’ll get — the most important thing is to have fun and get settled in.

We asked current York students to share their favourite thing about freshers’ week.

Staying up late chatting with new friends. Going out is great fun and a really good way to make friends but what I enjoyed most was sitting together with flat mates and chatting late into the night even though we’d just met.

Hui, second year

Too many. Highlights have to be meeting everyone who I’d spoken to before and probably a few more things that I don’t remember.

Sam, second year

Any tips?

Make sure you get as stuck into uni life as possible. Don’t let anything hold you back and just remember that everyone else is in the same position as you.

Sam, second year

Don’t worry if you’re not 100% feeling it due to nerves – not everyone enjoys it and you can make up for it when you’ve settled in. Also try and stay close with your STYCs after freshers

Rebecca, second year

The Nightlife

We asked current York physicists for their top watering holes. It’s hard to narrow it down (York is said to have at least 365 bars — one for every day of the year), but here’s the consensus.

Best music: Stone Roses (also home to the legendary £2.50 triple)

Best cocktails: Dusk, Evil Eye

(Legend says Evil Eye is Johnny Depp’s favourite bar in the world. Legend also says Zeus seduced a woman while disguised as a swan, though, so take that with a pinch of salt.)

Best night ever: Willow ♥

(You’ll have to get used to hearing upper-year students regale you with stories of Willow, the finest Chinese restaurant-turned-disco the world has ever seen, which, unfortunately, turned off its cheesy music for the last time around this time last year. We Willow-ways love you, Willow.)

Best kebab (drunk): Oki’s

Worst kebab (sober): Oki’s

But there’s a lot of dispute about the biggest question of all: What’s the best bar? So let’s ask our very own president to settle it once and for all.

[Best campus bar?] Oh it depends on what you like, there’s a good mix. So many bars for a relatively small uni. The lounge is great for cocktails, Courtyard is good for eating on an afternoon – and chilling in the sun with some Pimms in summer.
D-bar is great for starting a social, and Glasshouse is a nice little haven for anyone on Hes East.

Best place in town… So many! It depends when you’re out. Dusk is an old Physsoc fave, for the cheap cocktails and good music. Stone Roses also does triples and is great for music as well, although if you go in on the wrong night you might think you’re in a Liam Gallagher fancy dress competition! Parish does £1 jagerbombs, Society is good for a dance and KUDA is alright when you get to the end of the night and don’t remember which city you’re in anymore.

Thom, postgrad

With an answer as diplomatic and noncommittal as that, you can tell he’s president of something.

Final Words

Go to Marmite, buy everything from physics stores, don’t go shopping or sightseeing on a weekend, pre drink with your new flatmates even if you don’t want to go out, do your washing up immediately, Reel Cinema is CHEAP, claim the highest shelf in the fridge, Barnitts in town sells everything under the sun, […] girls don’t let boys speak over you, and most importantly focus on living and not on your grades. And definitely play Quidditch.

Lauren, fourth year

First year…. Can be a bit of a blur, it’ll be over before you know it so make sure you make the most of it. Everyone is super friendly, the staff are all really helpful and don’t stress, whatever you do! Make sure you enjoy it! Oh and Martin and Phil are the best lecturers you’ll ever have!

Thom, postgrad

The most important thing to remember is that university is what you make it. With around 200 societies (though none quite as good as PhysSoc!), you’re bound to find yourself doing things you never thought you would, pushing your own boundaries, and broadening your horizons. Try new things, don’t take it too seriously, but don’t do anything that makes you uncomfortable; there’s no “right” way to do uni, as long as you do your work and have your own kind of fun.

We’ll see you in September!

This article has been edited since publication to adjust layout and emphasise non-drinking alternatives to freshers’ week events. (Last updated 2016-08-24)

Main image by DS Pugh  [CC BY SA 2.0], via geograph.org