A Fresher’s Guide to Birmingham

(I wrote this during my Birmingham Mail work placement and they never published it, lol)

That dreaded time of year is again approaching for students. Eighteen year olds are entering the world of beans on toast, clubbing five nights a week and getting up for that 9am lecture. Of course, stereotypes aside, preparing for the big move to university can be scary. Whether you’re heading to University of Birmingham, Birmingham City, or Aston University, this guide works as a useful tool to what Birmingham has to offer, whether that be a greasy chicken takeaway (gourmet food after a few jäger-bombs) or student nights on Broad Street.

To reassure you, if results don’t work out how you’d hoped, follow Jeremy Clarkson’s advice. Tweeted last year, the reportedly highest earning TV host in Britain reassures A Level students: ‘If your A level results are disappointing, don’t worry. I got a C and two Us, and I’m currently on a superyacht in the Med.’

All jokes aside, here’s a list of what to expect from the second biggest city.


  • Student Nights:

Even with your student ID card, many would argue you’ve not at university unless you’ve experienced the night life. You may think you’ve been clubbing prior to Fresher’s week, but student nights differ to your 18th birthday bash in your hometown’s pub. The drinks are cheaper, there’s usually a dress code or music theme, and everyone’s of similar age! (The middle-aged dad-dancers are limited.) The most common student nights are Stupid Tuesdays (‘Stuesdays’) at Player’s Bar, and Vodbull’s student night at Snobs on Thursdays. Tickets can be purchased at vodbull.com and often require student ID for entry.

Throughout Fresher’s week, your university will organise a range of club-night events. These often include organised taxis, a dress code for each accommodation, and sometimes arranged pre-drinks to give you the opportunity to meet new people in a safe environment. These guarantee a smooth transition into Birmingham’s night life, all whilst reassuring your Mum that you’re in safe hands.

  • Make use of your student discount

Student ID alone is accepted in by many of the Bullring’s shops, giving you 10% off that Topshop bag you’re eyeing up. But remember your student loan needs to last a while, so be mindful – student discount doesn’t mean it’s a complete steal.

  • Visit the Library (not just for studying!)

The Library of Birmingham opened in April 2013 and attracts tourists and locals alike with its incredible architecture and sky garden. Situated on the west side of the city centre at Centenary Square, beside the Birmingham Rep and Baskerville House. Not only do the bookshelves look like something from Harry Potter, the Shakespeare Room and skyline views provide a wow-factor not to be missed.

  • Cafes other than Starbucks

Favourite coffee shops include Boston Tea Party down Corporation Street (perfect for brunch, or cake and a cappuccino) and Faculty Coffee and Tea for incredible cakes and atmosphere.

  • The Custard Factory

Birmingham’s hidden independent shopping area down Digbeth high-street. Known as the creative quarter, The Custard Factory is set in 15 acres of restored Victorian factories. Home to more than 400 creative and digital businesses and independent retail and leisure venues. Want somewhere different to explore? Show you know your way round the city by taking friends to this hidden nook.


  • Takeaways (that only taste good on a night out)

Because McDonalds is too classy for student life. Pit Stop on Broad Street meets all your drunken needs. These needs being chicken nuggets and/or cheesy chips. As for Selly Oak, I’m vegetarian so can’t comment, but my friends really love (when drunk of course) Roosters.


  • Understanding the Dialect

Never encountered Birmingham before moving to university? You may have never even met a Brummie. Not only is it an accent, it has its own slang. Brush up on your Brummie before arriving and you’ll be fine.

One thought on “A Fresher’s Guide to Birmingham

  1. Birmingham is getting better on the vegetarian/vegan front – I suggest following people like AndyHare on Twitter for recommendations. 3Threes on Martineau Place is one of the favourite vegan/veggie places in the city centre.

    Remember to make liberal use of loyalty cards! e.g. LEON have a “buy 3 things and get something free” card. 3Threes have a card etc.


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