The definitive guide to Southampton
Congratulations! You nailed your A levels and now you’re reaping the rewards of that cheeky bit of revision you slipped in between episodes of Orange is the New Black all […]
You nailed your A levels and now you’re reaping the rewards of that cheeky bit of revision you slipped in between episodes of Orange is the New Black all those months ago. Either that, or you were aiming for Oxbridge and you cocked it up just slightly, enough to land yourself at a still-good, but-not-exactly-Christ-Church institution.
Either way, Southampton’s respectable enough and has the benefit of zero boat races, tolerable amount of private school graduates and nobody cares about debating.
But what do you know about Southampton besides where it ranks in the old Guardian League Tables? Past the sordid optimism and inviting scent of the glossy prospectus? Beyond the steel lustre and oaky magnificence of the campuses you’ll be spending approximately five minutes passing through on your way to a solid 2:1 in first year?
Worry not, innocent freshers, as we have compiled a definitive guide to life in England’s greatest city.
It’s hard to find anyone with a bad word to say about Highfield Campus, primarily because it’s blandly anonymous to an almost impressive degree.
There’s a nice bit with flowers where you’ll take a dissertation selfie which will rake in big likes on Instagram, a big library where everyone treats you like shit and there’s a famously ugly building right on the edge.Most of the time spent here will be blurred by tiredness or a hangover, but it’s everything you need in a main campus.
We’ve reviewed them all already, but basically: they’re all the same, except Glen Eyre which is disproportionately full of wankers, because the rent’s a bit higher and daddy can afford it.
Be nice to the cleaner, don’t lock your cupboards, always courtesy flush. This is literally the only advice you need for living in halls.
And the dust isn’t exactly dust, Bencraft freshers. You know what I’m talking about.
Picture the captain of a rowboat, desperately paddling water out from the hull of his sinking ship with his bare hands as it slowly descends towards the ocean floor, praying he can keep it afloat. This is SUSU’s modus operandi.
Maybe that’s harsh. No student body in the country thinks their union is great, and the new sabbatical team are all extremely nice, except one of them.
The bit of SUSU that you’ll actually care about are societies. However, when your badminton team have to cancel training because the Union won’t give them anymore cocks, you’ll swiftly come to realise that the Union is just a thing that exists in the background that you will have no opinion on at all until it organises your grad ball at Oceana and gets a few members of S Club, always including but not limited to the racist one, to perform. Then you’ll wish it never existed.
Just don’t worry about this. Someone you met once in a seminar will run for something and you’ll maybe pity them enough to throw a vote their way. That is the full extent of how much you, a vibrant young person with lots to do, should care about any of that. Don’t let the propaganda machine trick you into thinking student elections matter.
Text a toastie
The Christian Union will give you a sandwich for free if you chat with them about an issue of your choice. They will bring you this sandwich, literally wherever you are. This is where you get your student loan back.
When I shacked up at uni, bright eyed and bushy tailed, student finance application uncompleted and just £65 in the coffers, I hit up text a toastie on a shockingly regular basis. It is not an exaggeration to say I owe them my life, and would ride to the gates of hell with them.
Also it’s a very good and important service, so don’t abuse it. Unlike the free ‘hot chocolates’ outside the Portswood church which inevitably end up with a tired 2nd year telling you that you’ve not done enough to go to heaven.
A horrible swamp of junked-up locals, students intent on decimating their maintenance loan on alcohol and a high street with an unhealthy amount of charity shops, Portswood is the main living area and cultural hub for students once they’ve left halls.
Particular highlights are the car park on Westridge Road filled with the flash cars of the local drug dealers, the wonderful duck who occasionally graces us with her presence, and the fact it has the highest concentration of ice-cream parlours in the country.
Does Cambridge have a Sprinkles? Does Harvard? Do they fuck.
There’s an identical gelato across the road called Scoops which opened more recently- there’s about fifty rumours floating around about the nature of their relationship.Some say its two families who want to take over the country together with their gelato holes. Others claim it’s a bit more West Side Story and the two families fell out after Scoops tried to break into Southampton, which is famously Sprinkles’ territory.
The consensus is that Sprinkles isn’t what it used to be, but remains better than Scoops. Feel free to try both.
Southampton isn’t a nice place in the traditional way. It’s always a bit moist, stinks of sewage and the locals are horrible. But for everything it lacks in cleanliness, friendliness and pleasantness, it more than makes up for in character.
The nightclub Jesters, located in Bevois Valley, epitomises ‘character’. The place is Southampton boiled down into a poignant haven, a savannah, of pure student experience. It’s Popworld without any makeup on. It’s your dad after your mum kicked him out.
It’s known as the ‘palace of dreams’, but it’s so much more than that. You literally descend into it through a dark, steep staircase. It’s a pit, basically. A pit where you’ll be spending every Monday and the odd Friday of the next three years with your pitty mates.
Jesters is a visceral experience. The stench hits you like a train, then becomes a part of you. When you first enter Jesters, take a nice long sniff. That’s what you’re going to smell like when you go home. That sweet piss-vomit-malibu combo is the first thing your ‘back home friends’ will notice about you. “You’ve changed so much!”
Anyone who tries to tell you Jesters is the “worst nightclub in Britain” is boring and definitely likes the music of Ed Sheeran and the taste of mayonnaise.
You could go to Oceana and spend your entire student loan on three vodka limes, shuffle about to a song you don’t like, before spending twenty minutes trying to escape through the labyrinthine arrangement of stairs, ladders and trapdoors;
OR, you can throw your loose change at Jesters in exchange for, at the very least, something memorable. They have 50p pints. You can get a cocktail with four shots in it for £2.50. You won’t even realise you’re drinking several consecutive pints of fruit juice. It’s that good. It won’t give you alcohol poisoning, but it will give you diabetes.
Plus, if you’re lucky you can either get or give a blowjob on the dancefloor.
Tariq Manzils Indian Restaurant stays open until 3am. The food is extremely decent, very cheap and served in unbelievable quantities. If you leave Jesters and curl up into a sad lonely ball, gravity will roll you straight into Tariq’s welcoming arms.
Be careful not to accidentally go five doors too far down the road, or you will walk into Manzils Tandori, the rivalling restaurant owned by Tariq’s father-in-law. There is widespread dispute among students over which is the superior, but for our money Tariq Manzils is the quintessential recovery spot after too many Jesticles.
I call it The Ponytail Lounge and avoid it like its regulars avoid showers, but I seem to be in the minority. Despite the odour and mum’s-basement vibe it’s always packed, making queueing at the bar feel like a literal nightmare, as leather trenchcoats slowly crush you from either direction, just like in Star Wars. The Hobbit is also actually a quite nice pub with good drink deals and a fun gimmick.
If you go on a Wednesday or Sunday you can get a three shot cocktail for £2.50, and there’s a Jamaican ‘food shed’ which I’ve heard is unrivalled in the local Pub Food game- just don’t ask for chips.
You’re in Popworld on a soggy Tuesday night. How did you end up here? It’s someone’s 21st. It’s always someone’s 21st at uni.
Surveying the dancefloor over your £5 single and coke, you oversee the shameful midweek dregs of humanity; hen parties, freshers deceived into thinking Popworld is an acceptable night out, and aging men in pinstripe shirts that scream “Steve from accounts”; all orbiting around a gaggle of loud, sagging women in cowboy hats, with a sad pink balloon poking its head above the miserable dogpile to exclaim “50 TODAY!”.
Your ears are hearing C’Est La Vie but your heart is screaming Je Veux Mourir.
Go find out for yourselves you lazy pricks.
Did we miss anything? Let us know in the comments below!