Aberystwyth A-Z

We’ve put together 26 top tips on everything from A&E to the Zoo…

 

Accident and Emergency

Here’s hoping that you never have to visit Bronglais Hospital’s A & E department, but thankfully it’s there in case you do. If you’re trying to get there on foot it’s half way down Penglais Hill (see page 14!) If something happens and you aren’t sure if it’s worthy of going to the hospital, then each block of campus flats has resident tutors, who will have welcomed you and provided you with a 24 hour contact number in case of emergencies.

 

Beaches

There are three beaches in Aber. North Beach, South Beach and Tanybwlch Beach (sometimes nicknamed: South-South Beach). North Beach is the best for sand and is nearest to the town, though if you want to have a bonfire or barbeque you’re supposed to go to South Beach. To get there you have to head towards the Castle. South Beach has more pebbles but there’s usually more space to kick a football or get a big group of you together. South-South Beach is out past the lighthouse and the marina. It feels more secluded, but it’s also relaxed, scenic and more like being in the countryside. Great if you want to escape for a while. (You can get cheap disposable BBQs from loads of places in town.)

Constitution Hill

Constitution Hill is the rather intimidating looking slate mountain opposite Alexandra Halls at the end of the promenade (see kicking the bar), commonly called ‘Consti’ because it’s much easier. Everybody should climb this once. We say climb because it’s a steep old walk and for most people a pretty exhausting affair, but slog it out to the top and you’ll be rewarded with amazing views over the town and surrounding countryside. If you make it up there at the right time, watching the sun set over the sea whilst on top of Consti is one of Aber’s greatest moments.

 

Devil’s Bridge

Once upon a time the Devil decided to visit Wales because he was a bit of a tourist. When he arrived he saw an old woman crying by a river and asked her what was wrong. The woman said that her cow had gone across the river and she couldn’t get it back. So the Devil said he’d build her a bridge and when she came back in the morning she could fetch her cow back. Then the Devil said that in return he wanted the first living thing to cross the bridge. Really Satan? Is that the going rate for bridges in Hell or are you just like that? The old woman accepted then came back the next day and found a bridge. Instead of going across she sent her dog over; because the old woman was more than happy to sacrifice a puppy to survive. Luckily for the dog the Devil is very picky and fled from Wales because he had been tricked out of the old woman’s soul. The old woman fetched her cow and lived happily ever after. Now, if you’re wondering how an old woman can wrestle down an escaped cow but can’t cross a river; maybe you should visit Devil’s Bridge which is 12 miles out of Aberystwyth. Gorgeous waterfalls and scenery; great place to take your family when they visit and it’s more than a little romantic. Flat comfortable shoes required because the 40-minute walk has very steep steps.

Employment

Looking to find a part-time job to top up the pennies? Here are a few tips: first, make use of Aber Careers Service’s website to spruce up your C.V. and use their job link service to find the latest vacancies. Second, it’s always worth going in and asking, especially in bars and restaurants where the jobs might not be advertised. Third, use your connections! If you happen to have a friend in the Quidditch club who works at the local takeaway, ask if they know of any jobs going. Good luck!

 

Financial help

If you find your loan isn’t stretching far enough, or the £4.98 an hour you pulling pints isn’t quite cutting it, there is help at hand. The University’s Student Support Department has financial advisers who can help you manage your money. If that seems too much like hard work, there are still other ways you can maximise your income and minimise your outgoings. Check the scholarship and bursary calculator on the University website to see what you’re entitled to, get wholesale price fresh food at the SU’s food co-operative or just maybe consider drinking less.

 

Grading

Initially the grading system at university can be a bit boggling compared to what you’re used to, but in reality it’s quite simple. A 1st is similar to an A; it’s the highest grade possible which you need a mark of 70% or higher to achieve. The grade down from this is a 2:1, similar to a B – you need between 60 and 69% to achieve this. Below this is the 2:2, roughly equivalent to a C – it denotes a mark of between 50 and 59%. Finally comes the 3rd, comparable to a D – you need a mark of between 40 and 49% to get this. Score a mark below 40% and unfortunately that counts as a fail, with all the consequences that includes!

 

Housing

There is a chronic shortage of housing in Aberystwyth, not helped by planning laws and definitely not helped by a lack of foresight when it comes to student recruitment. The days of university accommodation housing first and third years fairly comfortably are long gone; a campaign run by the Student Support Officer last year titled “Fools Rush In” aimed to stop desperate students playing into the hands of some of the town’s more unscrupulous landlords, but you’ll find many a student will still recommend getting in early.

 

Information Services

I.S. are there to help you with all your computing issues, and can be found at the library main desk. Staff are on hand to fix broken laptops (prices vary). An easy FAQ for all services provided by Information Services can be found from the main University website, including everything from activating email to connecting mobile devices to the Uni network.

 

Jumping queues (getting advanced tickets for events)

The Union is always hosting events and whether it’s a night of dancing or laughter it’s best to book early to avoid disappointment (and queues!). Advance tickets often save you a couple of pounds. They can be bought from the Union front desk or the shop. On a night out in Aber don’t forget your student card or some other form of ID like a driving licence. It may seem obvious to all of us that we are at Uni and therefore 99% of us will be over 18, but try explaining this to a bouncer on the door. If you only have a passport on you, it’s probably worth investing in another ID you can take out. Replacing a drunkenly lost passport will cost a lot more than a new provisional license. Also, when it comes to the nightclubs in town, look out for a change in prices at the weekend, often they are free but can go up to £6 entry!

 

Kicking the bar

You might have seen people at the foot of Constitution Hill on the end of the promenade, kick the railings. When I first saw people doing this I thought Aberystwyth had a strange obsession with stretching their hamstrings on casual walks… so we’re here to clear up the confusion! Or not, as nobody seems to know the true origin of this strange tradition. One theory is that kicking the bar is a prerequisite for passing your degree, and if you kick it with both feet you’re on for a first. However we don’t recommend trying to ninja kick the railings with both feet, lest you end up as a heap on the floor.

 

Laura Place

10 Laura Place near the Old College is Aberystwyth’s music centre, focused especially on classical music as well as traditional madrigals. There is space here to book for private practice of instruments as well as regular classes. If you want to join the choir, orchestra or sing in operettas like Gilbert and Sullivan, then prices start at around £3 for the whole year! Aberystwyth has long been connected to classical and orchestral music, with Elgar, Holst and Vaughan Williams holding the town in high regard, and the centre itself being one of the first music departments in Britain. Many music societies will be at Freshers’ Fayre to tell you more!

 

May Ball

This is the social event of the year. May Ball happens, you guessed it, every May and is an end of year celebration. Organised by the Union, it’s hugely popular and great fun. Everyone dolls themselves up in their best dresses/suits and then hop on a coach to the ‘festival’ site outside Pontrhydfendigaid. In previous years its included fairground style rides (including a bungee jump) and games as well as a live comedy tent, a tribute act tent and a chill-out tent as well as the main arena. Previous headliners have included Professor Green, Zane Lowe, The Hoosiers, The Pigeon Detective in the last few years. Time will tell what the Union has lined up for this year, fingers crossed for Spice Girls!

 

New library cards

One of the first things you do when you start at Aber is pick up your library card (or “Aber Card”) – it gives you access to the Students’ Union, 24 hour computer rooms, money off in the restaurants – oh, and lets you take out books as well! New cards are being introduced this year that have even more features than before. Your library card is not an NUS Extra card, so it doesn’t entitle you to NUS Extra-only discounts, but loads of places do student discounts so it’s worth asking!

 

Old College

If you didn’t receive a letter by owl post this summer then Old College is possibly the closest you will ever get to Hogwarts. Old College is the original university building, built in 1872 as a hotel for wealthy travellers from the east of England, but failing quite substantially it was bought up within ten years by the farmers of the town. They turned it into the first building to constitute the University of Wales. Now it is used for odd job seminars, secluded computer rooms, and spending hours wandering the halls wondering where the front door is.

 

Penglais Hill

If you don’t know what it is you soon will, it’s the GIANT hill from campus to town and is the bane of most Aber students lives! Despite this it must be tackled as there are various important facilities including the national library and the hospital as you descend towards town, these are clearly sign posted along the way. Not to fear though, despite the plans for an escalator being put on hold, there is a regular bus service from campus to town with stops in-between so after those long days of lectures you can rest your legs on a short bus ride. Travel cards are available.

 

Quizzes

At the very beginning of the year the Union hosts The Big Quiz -and they’re not lying either, with prizes ranging from 365 bottles of beer through to flatscreen TVs, iPods, and even a little Henry Hoover, this really is the biggest quiz of the year. Salt and Scholars are also famous for their quizzes; arrive early at Salt on a Monday for 9pm as places are limited and tend to fill up quickly. With 1st-3rd place winners, bonus prizes, a yearlong leader board and 2-4-1 cocktails, some find it hard to lose out even coming last! Scholars quiz night is Sunday at 8.30pm, with great food and a friendly atmosphere you’ll be back weekly. The Glengower pub is one of the most popular with students. It’s on the seafront and a short stumble home to Alex Halls and on a Monday, it, too, hosts a pub quiz. Rummers host a quiz on Sunday night from 8.30pm, with free entry and tasty beers to be won! There’s simply no shortage of quizzes- these are just the regulars, although mind out for your lecturers, they’re cleverer than you think.

 

Retail (well… food really!)

Aber is a fairly small place, but surprisingly, there are numerous supermarkets and places to buy food. The main supermarket is Morrisons, a 25 minute walk from campus or a short bus ride on the number 1 or number 2 Arriva Bus. It’s open 8am-9pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm Sunday. The big supermarket in town is Co-op, around a five minute walk from the centre of town on Park Avenue. It’s a mile walk from campus and is open 8am-10pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm Sunday. To get to Co-op by bus, catch Arriva Bus number 1, 2 or 3 into town.
Lidl and Iceland are also in town. Lidl is open from 8am-8pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm Sunday, while Iceland is open from 9am-7pm Monday to Saturday and 10am-4pm Sunday. Both supermarkets are in Rheidol Retail Park, just next to Wetherspoon on Alexandra Road. Of course, there are always the many take away and restaurant options in town if you don’t feel like cooking!

 

Sports

If the Olympic and Paralympic Games taught us one thing, it’s that us Brits know how to host sporting events! Try something new, fun and active, while following in the footsteps of your favourite athletes; Aber has it all from track to swimming to rugby and even paragliding if you are feeling more adventurous! So take advantage of the Sports Fayre and challenge yourself while making lasting friendships and shedding a few of those take-away pounds!

 

Transport

Transport around Aber is one of the easiest things about living in such a small town. Taxis are dead cheap and only cost about £1 each if there are three or four of you heading back to campus after a night out. Buses run regularly and will be at Freshers’ Fayre to hand out timetable to near and far locations. You could get a bus pass if you think it’s worth your while, but journeys to places like Morrisons only cost around £1 or £2 return. Of course, for further afield we have the train station, where you can get away to Borth, Machynlleth or even Birmingham for some shopping, ticket prices can be as low as £6. For longer journeys it’s worth booking in advance and printing your tickets at the machine on the platform (just behind ‘Spoons).

 

Union

You probably already saw the Union on your Open Day. It’s the social hub of the University where you can find a bar, music, Aber Student Media’s Bay Radio station, The Courier and the new student television station, broadcasting on YouTube, Bay TV. The Union shop sells a range of sandwiches, snacks, cheap stationary and Aberystwyth University hoodies and jumpers. Some of the services the Union has on offer include free counselling as well as providing the offices of the Sabbatical officers and a place to host events, such as union general meetings or charity events. The Union is a strange mixture of a good night out, a place for advice or just a snack.

 

Vodka

You are a student now and the budget will be tight, so get value for money and a messy night out with everyone’s friend, vodka. Try your best to disguise it in other better tasting drinks at various places and pubs around town (don’t forget: we have 50 pubs in Aber, so here’s just a few, also drink responsibly of course). Tuesday night is vodka night in Rummers near the marina sometimes with shots for 60p, Downies on the way to Pier, do quadruple vodka and energy drink for £4, Aber Vaults do triple vodka and mixers good for pre drink on the way down the hill into town. Alternatively if heavy spirits aren’t on the menu there are plenty of more relaxed pubs like the Ship and Castle which are great for real ales.

 

Washing clothes

Mid-afternoon is the worst time to go to the launderette. To get it done without wanting to blind the other people there with detergent and throw your change at whoever manages to get away, you’re going to need to get up early or stay up really late. There are always launderettes in town if you don’t want to use the University’s but they can be more expensive; the easiest to find is at the bottom of Penglais Hill past Aber Vaults. When in Uni launderettes do not be afraid to take someone else’s stuff out when it’s finished, you could be waiting for hours because someone has just left their stuff. Try not to leave your washing in; you won’t make any friends when you turn up an hour late to take it out. The price of the washers fluctuate and you’ll need your own detergent, but it is around £2- remember to bring it in change! The dryers stand steady at £1. Take a book or a friend if you have one. Have a party.

 

X… is (sort of) for ‘eXes’

Look around. See that? Aber is tiny. A break up here would have the scriptwriters of Eastenders jealous. So a word from the wise and now, experienced older students here, if you cringe easily or go red quicker than traffic lights, be careful who you have those one-off flings with. Remember in Aber, there are only two degrees of separation between us all, you could be in for a shock as to who knows who and how!

 

Ynyslas

(Un-uhs-laass!) Disappointed by the lack of sand on Aberystwyth’s beaches? Fear not, the sandy haven of Ynyslas lies just 10 miles north. A designated National Nature Reserve, the beach is huge with awesome sand dunes surrounding it. It’s perfect for a day out while it’s still sunny, to build a sandcastle, have a picnic, fly kites or even for kite boarding. It’s a 20 minute drive if you have a car (or know someone who does!) or a 15 minute train to Borth and a short walk north to Ynyslas. Highly recommended!

 

Z… is for Zoo

What do an iguana and an ocelot have in common? They both reside at Borth Animalarium! Located a short walk away from the Borth train or bus station, the Animalarium is proudly placed on the list of unique features of Aberystwyth University. The vast majority of the unusual animals that take up residency at the Animalarium are unwanted pets – this includes a leopard! Animals are also taken in from the RSPCA or from rescue centres after they have been found abandoned or injured. From the cute and cuddly to the scaly and wild, the Animalarium has it all! For only £10 student entry, why not make a trip to see some lemurs, wallabies and crocodiles?