Zoe's Story

The best people to tell you what it’s really like to live and learn at Birmingham, are our students. Meet Zoe, a care leaver from Birmingham who is studying Law at our University.  


What do you think is the best thing about Birmingham’s campus?
The buildings, like Aston Webb and the Main Library. They’re both very beautiful and makes the university unlike no other. Also the clocktower in the centre of the university, Old Joe.

Have you visited any of the University’s cultural collections (Lapworth museum, Winterbourne House & Gardens, Barber Museum, Bramall Music Building?) if so, what did you like about them?
I have visited the Winterbourne House and Gardens and it was beautiful. In the summer it is peaceful and many students visit to read and work in the gardens.

Do you take part in any societies at Birmingham? And if so, which societies and what has your experience of these been?
I am currently on the committee for the Baking Society at the university. This is a fun experience as it is exclusive to everyone and the baking is very simple! Being part of a society is like having another group of friends and many societies offer day trips and nights out to socialise further.

What is the social life like on campus?
Again, there are a few bars and restaurants on campus which are really popular and the main bar at the students union has regular club nights. These are busy as it is a safe environment purely for University of Birmingham students and you don’t have far to walk home.

City of Birmingham

What do you love most about Birmingham?
Birmingham is such a diverse city and there is something to do for everyone, both at the University with various societies or in the city centre exploring Birmingham’s culture.

What surprised you about the city when you came on an Open Day?
How big the campus is! Even as an undergraduate, second year student it is still surprising how much there is to do on campus.

If a prospective student was in Birmingham for one day/night only, what would you recommend they do?
In the daytime, the Winterbourne gardens is a perfect day out in the summer period. It costs nothing and it’s so close to the University, so you can walk there!

Of an evening, I would definitely recommend visiting the many bars and restaurants in the city centre, especially Brindley place. Broad street also offers various nightclubs and bars to suit different music tastes.

Would you consider staying in Birmingham after you graduate?
I currently live in Birmingham, so am planning on staying in the city after I graduate. There are many job opportunities here and there’s still so much of the city I haven’t seen yet.

What is Birmingham like to live in, as a student?
As the second largest city, Birmingham is very large. However, the University is between various train stations and bus routes, so it is easy to travel around the city to explore.

How do you find Birmingham in terms of cost - do you think it’s good value for money? What do you spend your money on each month?
It is not costly to live in Birmingham, provided that you shop at supermarkets such as Aldi and budget! It’s very tempting to go to the city centre and shop because it is so close, but as long as you budget for occasional treats, takeaways and new clothes, it’s not costly at all. Most of my money goes on food, however I only usually spend around £15-£25 a week on food at most. I also budget for nights out and meals out occasionally and find I have plenty of money spare.

Is there anything amazing about Birmingham that you think people don’t know about (bars, cafes, clubs, shops, attractions etc.)?
Definitely Brindley Place by the canal. There are numerous bars and restaurants and also the Sea Life Centre! There are also many more around Colmore Row, such as The Alchemist, The Botanist, Tattu and The Ivy.

If you could describe Birmingham in one word or phrase, what would it be?


What accommodation did you live in?
I lived in Jarratt Hall in the Selly Oak Village.

What is your experience of living in University accommodation?
I loved living in student accommodation and would recommend this to anyone who is planning on studying here. This is purely because you will make friends with the people you live with and live around, and from my experience, many of my social outings were with the people who I lived with.

Where did you live in your 2nd/3rd year?
I currently live in Selly Oak.

What is the social life like, living in student accommodation?
The social life is great in student accommodation. As previously said, I met many of my friends through my accommodation. Also, many of the accommodations put on events throughout the year for you to socialise with new people. One of these is held in the summer time, called ValeFest and is open to all students at the university. There’s free mocktails, candyfloss, popcorn and fairground rides and is a fun day out!

What is the best advice you would give to a new student coming to live in university accommodation?
Choose an accommodation which is most convenient for you. If you are studying medicine, opt for an accommodation closer to the Medical School. If you would like to be in a close-knit group of accommodations (almost like a separate community), the Vale is perfect and this is where many students will live. Or, if you prefer to be close to bars along the Bristol Road and Aldi, then Selly Oak Village is perfect for this.

Cost of Living

How much do you usually spend on a night out?
£5-£15, usually on a taxi to the event, a drink or two and then food on the way home!

Where do you do most of your shopping?
Aldi, here it is fresh and is the cheapest supermarket. They don’t offer certain branded foods, so I may go to Sainsbury’s for certain items (toiletries) however for food, I shop at Aldi.

Do you cook more or go out for food?
I prefer to cook, as it is cheaper and you can make numerous meals at the same time to save time.

What do you make when you cook for yourself?
I really enjoy Mexican and Italian foods, such as Fajitas, Burritos, Lasagne’s and Risottos.

Teaching and Learning

How are you taught?
Through both lectures and seminars. I prefer seminars, as you get the opportunity to talk to your seminar leader directly and ask questions. Also, these are more discussion based.

What are the teaching facilities like on campus for you - have you used any of the new facilities?
I really enjoy the new library, as there are always people there and everyone is focused on their work. It is a relaxed, quiet atmosphere which is perfect for studying.

What do you think of the careers service (Careers Network) at Birmingham and how have you used it so far?
I have gained work experience through the CEPLER site, which is very similar to Careers Network. I therefore have had a very positive experience, and I found it was easier to apply for work experience through an internal system. I was lucky to get the placement as many people had applied, however found the application really easy (a basic application form and an interview).