A Freshers’ Guide to Southampton

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Undoubtedly, one of the most daunting aspects of moving to university is adjusting to a brand new city. Don’t worry about swapping stories of fantastic social spots with your fellow Freshers – Wessex Scene has compiled a brief round-up of the best spots in Southampton.

WestQuay Shopping Centre

The undisputed jewel in the crown of Southampton’s shopping scene, packed with 130 shops comprising some of the nation’s best-loved brands – John Lewis, Apple, New Look, Waterstone’s, SuperDry – as well as several quirky, understated independent outlets to cater for everyone’s needs. The adjacent Above Bar high street provides the perfect sidekick, with everything from a cheap Primark shopping spree to the latest, obscenely over-priced video game releases from GAME.

Rumour has it that, through student loans, the UK government has spent more money in WestQuay than on public services in recent years…

It’s not all about shopping til’ you drop, though! WestQuay is also home to a wide range of chain restaurants and fast food outlets, not to mention the new-for-2017 Showcase Cinema de Luxe and bowling alley, making it an absolute must if you’re one of those ‘treat yo’self’ types.

Highfield Campus

It wouldn’t be an understatement to say that Highfield Campus has most of everything you could wish for as a student. SUSU – the Students’ Union – alone comprises a pub, cafe, American-themed coffee and milkshake bar, cinema, bar and fitness facilities as well as housing SUSUtv, Surge Radio, The Edge and yours truly, the Wessex Scene.

The weekly highlights are undoubtedly Karaoke Night on Thursday’s at The Stags, Highfield Campus’ reasonably-priced pub (will you be the next to murder Mr. Brightside in a checked shirt?), or the weekly Quiz & Curry evening in The Bridge on the top floor of SUSU – hilarious team names are compulsory.

It’s not all about being social though – sometimes there’s work to be done. Hartley Library is one of the best-equipped university libraries on the continent, with over 1 million books, a quarter of which have been digitised and are available for you to access online. If working in near-silence without the provision of ordering in takeaway isn’t really your thing, you can book out one of hundreds of well-equipped rooms across campus. The projectors also connect to games consoles, but I didn’t tell you that.

The ensemble is rounded off nicely with Jubilee Sports Centre, a purpose-built, multi-million pound facility designed to cater for everybody, from the absolute novice to the keen athlete, with memberships competitively priced against other providers in the city.

Jesters

It’s difficult to explain the relationship between University of Southampton students and their city’s most renowned nightclub, but it’s not called ‘The Palace of Dreams’ for nothing. Enter sober at your own risk. Trying the signature drink, the ‘Jesticle’ is an absolute must. For those keen to ignore the fact that Monday signals the start of another week of lectures, responsibilities and just generally not being able to live in your lazy clothes doing nothing, make the trek to Bevois Valley where a hangover, as well as a sense of never truly being clean and hygienic again, are guaranteed.

And I haven’t even started on Chic’o’land next door yet….

Southampton Common

Under-appreciated in the winter and packed to the rafters during the warmer months, Southampton Common is just north of the city centre next to Avenue Campus and bordered by Portswood, Highfield, Shirley and Bassett. Spanning some 365 acres, this a walk around this idyllic mix of woodland, ponds, open grassy spaces and parkland can be the difference between living your best life and having that long-awaited breakdown over that assignment you’ve been putting off.

The undoubted highlight of the Common for most students is ‘Common People’, with the area transformed every May Bank Holiday to accommodate a bumper line-up of acts and a myriad of off-stage entertainment. It also hosts a weekly 5km ‘Parkrun’, for those looking to get into the habit of exercising but need a little bit of structure to push themselves in the right direction.

And slightly further afield…

Despite being the largest port on the South Coast, the one thing Southampton does unfortunately lack is a beach. Luckily, with the golden sands of Bournemouth and charming seaside town of Weymouth only a direct train ride away, you almost don’t notice the difference. Or why not head along Swanage’s heritage steam railway and enjoy fish and chips by the seaside?

Why not take a journey to the New Forest, switch off from social media and feel at one with nature for an afternoon? Or satisfy your inner architect and take a trip to Winchester Cathedral, which hosts one of the UK’s best-loved Christmas Markets every winter.

Whatever the weather, and whatever your interests, there’s something for everybody in Southampton.

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Head of Events at the Wessex Scene. Often found working in the motorsport paddocks of the world, or enjoying a cafe breakfast. Self-titled comedic genius, notorious wearer of Union-branded clothing.

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