‘I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone’: Life as an off-campus Lancs fresher

Living in town isn’t all it’s cracked up to be

Ever since starting at Lancs, I’ve felt like a bit of a rare breed: an off-campus fresher.

People still look at me in shock when I say it. As a campus uni, it’s fair to say that living off-campus at Lancs isn’t the obvious choice (at least in first year). But I chose off-campus because I’d been living in Lancaster for a couple of months prior to starting at uni and I couldn’t be bothered with the faff of moving all my stuff. Plus, it saved me from having to choose which part of my gaming setup to sacrifice.

But, after being at uni for a few weeks, it’s fair to say I wouldn’t recommend it to anyone else.

It’s a right trek

It still surprises me how much of a trek it is to get to uni. It’s at least 15 minutes on the bus on a good day (which isn’t common), or an hour’s walk. Sure, it’s not the worst walk in the world – but with the lovely Lancs weather, you won’t be doing it nearly as often as you might think.

Having to get ready an hour before the lecture will sound like a nightmare for most freshers, especially after a night in Sugar. Even people in Cartmel and Lonsdale don’t have to wake up that early to get to their lectures on time. And that’s before you reach the bus stop.

A bus at Common Garden Street

The morning buses are HECTIC

Common Garden Street is normally an alright part of town. It’s got some good shops, plus a Greggs without a queue. But go there at just before half past the hour in the morning and you’ll feel like you’ve just been teleported to the Hunger Games.

Hordes of people trying to get to their lectures on time, avoiding the 100 at all costs. Or anything that goes around Bowerham really. Do you like sitting down? You’ll want to make sure you get there early. And if you’re in a rush, you’ll be keeping your fingers crossed that you’re not the person the driver speaks the immortal words: “sorry mate, bus is full”.

Some may say that there are other places in town, but Infirmary can be a bit hit or miss, whilst the Bus Station means you’re giving up at least 10 minutes of sleep, which is a big no-no.

It’s a social nightmare

I think it’s fair to say everyone’s afraid they won’t make friends during Freshers’. But being in a flat with plenty of people in the same boat as you does help a lot. It just doesn’t hit the same queuing for Sugar on your own.

The uni does do a good job at trying to encourage off-campus students to socialise, with plenty of events during freshers. But socialising with people living off campus has its challenges as most aren’t library hermits like me and only come in for lectures.

Eventually, you’ll find a flat that’ll adopt you, but until then? Good luck!


You miss the Lancs gems

I’m embarrassed to say I still haven’t started building my duck photo collection yet. Or got my free water after a night out at Sultans. Or even been to Sultans on campus.

Lancaster University is full of gems, but the commitment that the trek requires means late nights are so much harder, and unless you’re going out in town it’s difficult to live your uni best life. Whilst you’ll eventually discover them all, it feels like it takes much longer to settle in when you’re not on campus 24/7.

You can’t crash during the day

Got a full morning of lectures followed by a few hours’ break before that seminar that just conveniently has to be at 4pm? Unless you’re a fan of repeating the commute all over again, it’s unlikely you’ll be able to sneak home and get some decent shut-eye.

Meanwhile, you’ll turn up to your seminar and find out that half of your mates have just rolled out of bed, especially if the timetabling gods have been generous. At least the jealousy will fuel you through.

Nights out just aren’t the same

I live a two-minute walk from Sugar. But during Freshers’, that really didn’t feel like a benefit. It just feels really strange until you’ve finally found some mates.

Missing out on someone getting drunk a little too much before you’ve ever reached the Sugarbus, standing in the queue like an NPC, and then carrying your previously mentioned mate back to the flat doesn’t sound like it should be fun, but it’s part of the Lancs life, and I’ve got to admit, I wish I chose it.

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