The ultimate bucket list every UoB fresher needs to complete
The year is almost over, have you behaved like a true fresher?
Find the real life green spaces you didn’t think existed
Force yourself out of the little bubble that is student accommodation and find some actual real green space, I dare you. Even if you’re lucky enough to live on the Vale, there is definitely something to be said for putting down that third bowl of pasta you’re eating and making the effort to find somewhere new.
I would recommend a trip to Woodgate Valley Park because despite it being more effort to get to than McDonalds, it’s far enough out to make you feel like you’re not in Birmingham at all. Closer to home, Canon Hill Park is ridiculously near campus and if you’re too lazy even for that, there is literally a dedicated garden on campus at Winterbourne House and Gardens. So there’s really no excuse…
Be cultured at the city museums even if it’s just to buy a postcard from the gift shop
Once you’ve got some fresh air and taken pretty pictures of some green space, your next job is to head into the city and make your way around some museums. Chances are, they’ll give you more interesting knowledge than your degree ever will so surely it’s worth the trip?
Birmingham Museum and Art Gallery is the perfect place to take arty parents, the gift shop is well stocked with edgy postcards and Brummy souvenirs to send them if they don’t care enough to actually visit. Other museums nearby include the Thinktank or Ikon Gallery and all of them make a good day away from the self-chosen and impending doom that is your assignment deadlines. Otherwise, being the campus that has literally everything ever, the Barber Institute of Fine Arts at the university is guaranteed to make you feel extra specially intellectual inbetween your boring lectures.
Take an arty photo of Old Joe every time the sky is vaguely pretty
It’s pretty much a given that you’re not a true UoB fresher if your camera roll isn’t filled with at least 50% photos of Old Joe looking pretty in the sun, rain, snow, mediocre cloudy weather and pretty much any day of the year really.
It doesn’t really matter from which angle you take these photos because there will always be someone from Photosoc who can take a better one but it’s more about the memories so don’t let that put you off. I’m here to remind you that time is almost running out this year so if you haven’t taken your token fresher photo of Old Joe yet, then please drop everything you’re doing and run to campus and take one now. You’ll thank me later I promise.
Feel edgy and cool at Digbeth Dining Club until you get cold and uber home
The wonderful Digbeth Dining Club is one of those places you say you’ll go to for weeks and weeks before suddenly realising term is almost over and you have still never actually made it there. Honestly, it is definitely worth the slightly above average travel time to get there on a Friday or Saturday night for some slightly overpriced by equally cool and trendy food, drink and music.
Whether you’re after fish and chips or a good curry, the food stalls here change every week and there’s always something interesting to try (and something safe and familiar too, don’t worry). This is definitely one to go to with your friends so maybe swap the weekly Friday propaganda or Saturday Fab for a more cultured evening this week?
Visit the city library and realise it’s basically the same as the university one
This wouldn’t be a list for students without including some work-related boxes to tick. Although everyone says they do absolutely no work and don’t care, the truth of it is that everyone gets to a point in the year where they panic about all the work they haven’t done and decide to spend more hours of their day in the university library than is healthy.
Inevitably you will at some point want a change of scenery from the blank student stares of despair and overly perfect interior of the flash new university library. To be fair, the city library is pretty cool as long as you’re not looking for anything too different because, even down to the yellow themed architecture, the two are ridiculously similar. Still worth the trip even if it’s just for a coffee and some cake from the cafe.
Stay up all night writing an intricate essay plan then be too tired to write it up anyway
Technically this isn’t really a bucket list moment but everybody knows it’s something Arts students will definitely do so while we’re on the topic of work, we might as well bring this up. You’ll think it’s such a good idea at the time, put on some loud music and blitz your way through hours and hours of unnecessary reading, sticky notes and highlighters.
The problem is that once you’ve proudly finished your excessively intricate essay plan, you’ll stop to give yourself a small but well deserved break. You will almost definitely fall asleep, probably holding a cup of tea and some leftover pizza, and not wake up until after the midday deadline has already gone. Don’t worry though, once you’ve made this mistake once you (probably) won’t make it again.
Get lost in the Bullring every time you go shopping and eventually realise the open markets are way better anyway
Everybody knows that the Bullring has every shop in it that a fresher desperately longed for in their small and bustling hometowns but, let’s be honest, nobody actually knows their way around it properly. You’ll probably go in from the New Street entrance and spend half an hour lost in Debenhams before finding yourself coming out of an exit near Selfridges that takes you onto the busy High Street – it’s okay, nobody really knows how to get out of the Bullring in the right place so don’t sweat it too much.
To be honest, if you walk an extra five minutes to the outdoor/indoor markets you can get cheap knock-off versions of the biggest Bullring brands anyway. Also, an extra dose of real human interaction and the cheapest fruit and veg you’ve ever seen is always a bonus.
Take your parents to Winterbourne House and Gardens so they think you’re a civilised student
Winterbourne House and Gardens is probably the most National-Trust-esque establishment that you can find near campus. It’s definitely the perfect place either to take your parents when they visit or to go when you want to pretend you’re not actually in Birmingham but have fallen down Alice’s rabbit hole into the lush gardens of the Pride and Prejudice set.
The catch here is that even though your student ID gets you free entry, your parents will have to pay to get in. The beauty of it is you can split the small cost with them, sacrifice a measly £3 and in return have them believe you’re the one student breaking the stereotype of having no money, no food, no motivation and probably no idea what the full name of your degree actually is. The positives here definitely outweigh the negatives.
Spend weeks determined to find the best club on Broad Street before realising none are that great
Now that you’ve found somewhere green to de-stress, somewhere cheap to buy fruit and veg and somewhere pretty to take your parents, number 9 gets down to the nitty gritty of a night out. Trying to find somewhere on Broad Street that is actually a good night out is arguably one of the biggest challenges for every fresher and the heartbreaking thing is, it will suck the soul out of you.
Every fresher spends weeks hopping from club to club determined to find the best one but in all honestly, unless you’re a committed Pryzm-goer or a Stuesdays fanatic, chances are you’ll probably just end up choosing to come home early for late night chips and DMCs.
Take a walk down the canal and contemplate all the things that aren’t on this list and should be
Don’t worry, I’m not going to pretend this list is all inclusive and I completely acknowledge that most things are not included here. To give myself an excuse to not be hated on by every fresher who hasn’t done these things, I encourage you to take the point of this article as being that there is so much to do in Birmingham and you shouldn’t just fester in your flat.
The final thing that every fresher should do in their first year is to realise just how easy it is to get towards or away from the city just by walking or cycling down the canal. While you’re there, you can contemplate on all the things you want to do in your first year (whether on this list or not) because, if you don’t think about it, chances are you’ll get to the end of the year and realise you’ve missed out on a hell of a lot. Saying that, it’s pretty widely accepted that as long as you’re doing something and not locking yourself in your room then you’re probably doing fine.