Living in the middle: the perks of studying between city and countryside

The biggest debate I had when choosing a university was what sort of university did I want to go to. Did I want a uni right in the centre of city or one in the countryside where all the university buildings were centralised in a small space?

Thankfully Essex provides the best of worlds: a 200 acre parkland for our campus surrounded by countryside, a bustling town a short distance away and quite possibly the greatest city on Earth a short train journey away.

So here are the perks of being in the middle:

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Culture vultures catered for here!

On campus we are lucky enough to have our own theatre (The Lakeside Theatre) and art gallery (The Art Exchange). In Colchester there is the multi-award winning Mercury Theatre, Firstsite Art Gallery and the Colchester Arts Centre. You’ll also find a cinema and various clubs in town as well.

Of course in London you will be awash with theatres (both in the WestEnd and elsewhere), museums (catering for conventional history exhibits to the down right weird) and as much entertainment as you can shake a stick at, but you can’t also easily access the peace and quiet of our awe-inspiring surrounding countryside.

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Enjoy the sites of the city which are only a short train journey away

An oasis of calm and a hive of activity

Some people thrive on busy environments and others prefer tranquillity. Certainly the campus is filled with quiet nooks, while the squares can often become busy with events (of which the Thursday street market is a highlight of my week). Colchester itself has several hidden, quiet gems but is also a bustling place as well, while the surrounding countryside provide great spaces to walk and explore- speaking of which…

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2oo acres of parkland- with Colchester peeping in on the top left corner

Nature, nature everywhere and miles and miles to walk

Despite what the media tells you about the county of Essex, it actually has one of the most varied landscapes in the country. Beaches, marshland, urban areas, islands- the list of potential places to visit is endless.

From the Colchester campus you walk along the Colne River towards Colchester in one direction and towards Wivenhoe in the other. There are also numerous paths and cycle routes which can take you even further into the countryside.

If you are feeling adventurous perhaps you could walk The Essex Way, an 81 mile route that avoids most towns and takes you from Epping in the west of Essex, to Harwich on the coast in East via north Colchester… or perhaps you could follow the route on Google maps instead!

Surrounded by the countryside but close to all things you need.

So the countryside is nice, but what about shopping, or travelling elsewhere? Fear not, Essex is well connected- I mean you are free the leave the campus at some point!

A large Tesco is a short walkable distance from the uni (or even shorter by bus) and soon (though no exact date has been set) the B&Q opposite The Quays will be turned into a Sainsbury’s.

Buses will also take you into Colchester (and its three railway stations if you want to go further afield), to Clacton if you want the coast, to Wivenhoe for nice walks among its historic streets and to the nearby village of Tiptree, home to the Wilkin and Sons jam factory (who are also suppliers of jam to the Queen!). Of course, if you want to travel further a-field, Colchester has three railway stations to that can get you to London.

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Escape the strain, take the train

All of this is available right on our doorstep. Whether you want an active and busy night out, want to curl up on the sofa with a hot chocolate, want to go for a bike ride during the day, or to go and get lost in the buzz of London, you’ve got it.

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