Sussex University: expectations vs reality

Everything you thought going to university in Brighton would be, versus the reality

Visiting Sussex Uni as a sixth former, we all had rose-tinted expectations of what it would be like. We all thought about how lovely it would be to live on the sunny South coast, but we didn’t think about all of the other things, like what feathery predators might lurk on the beach, or the cold wind and rain that blasts you on the seafront.

Here are some of the biggest reality-checks you’ll face once you arrive in Brighton:

The beach

One of the best things about living in Brighton is undoubtedly the beach, but this comes with its whole own set of expectations vs reality.

Expectation: having chips on the beach

Reality: being swarmed and mugged by seagulls and never forgetting the trauma (basically every Sussex student has had a horrific encounter with once of these things).

Expectation: Sunbathing on the beach in the summer

Reality: Hiding under the towel you brought with you to go ‘swimming’ (see below)

Expectation: Swimming in the sea in the summer

Reality: dipping your toes in and regretting it instantly, spending the next hour nursing them for possible frost-bite.


We are so lucky to learn on such a beautiful campus – it’s one of the things that really draws students to Sussex, but it isn’t always as idyllic as expected.

Expectation: Learning the beautiful English countryside

Reality: it rains approximately two thirds of the time, meaning you get soaked walking the miles between the library to accommodation.

Expectation: Living on campus and being a ‘short’ bus ride into the town

Reality: Cramming onto the 25 and standing for about 30 minutes

Expectation: Revising in the library with friends

Reality: Fighting for two seats together and eventually giving up, sitting across the room from your study-buddy and sprinting across the room when a seat next to them becomes free

Brighton life

Expectation: Shopping in all the indie shops in the Laines for everything to help small businesses

Reality: You can’t afford most things in the Laines on a student budget, so end up shopping in Churchill Square and only looking longingly at the cute indie shops.

Expectation: Becoming vegan

Reality: Tried Veganuary and gave up after six days because you were hungover and wanted a bacon sandwich (congratulations if you have successfully become vegan).

Expectation: Being excited to see famous people

Reality: You have probably seen Zoella once or twice, and to be honest, felt very underwhelmed by the whole experience.

While lots of things about Brighton aren’t exactly how we pictured it, for the most part we wouldn’t change it for the world. Except for the seagulls, they can get in the bin.