Most of this part of TSR is full of people asking what uni is like and such. Having found postings on this forum very helpful for finding out about RHUL last year, I thought I would do the same for this year's prospective students.
Could I ask the moderators to make this thread sticky, at least until September?
In no particular order...
Getting to London: There are four trains an hour to London, two from Reading and two from Weybridge. In practice, however (at least on the current timetable), there are only really two, as one from each starting station stops at Egham within a few minutes of each other. As has been stated in other posts, the journey time to Waterloo is about 40 mins, however this is only if you take the faster train via Richmond. Otherwise, you are looking at more like an hour if you get on the other train which wheezes its way round the Chiswick loop. Change at Feltham if you get on the wrong one is my advice. Richmond is also useful if you're going somewhere in the west of London, as there is an easy interchange straight on to the District Line. Getting back at night can be slightly more problematic, as the last train departs from Waterloo at 11:30. If you fancy doing an all-nighter then the next one is at 05:05... Obviously, timetables change, so I can't guarantee that any of these times listed will remain the same.
Accommodation: You will probably have been showered with information regarding the various halls, but probably know less about what they're actually like. I can only really describe Kingswood, Brunel and Founder's (n.b. there is as yet no common agreement as to where the apostrophe goes) in any detail.
- Kingswood (where I live) is about a mile from campus by road, although due to various footpath shortcuts it's actually only about half that on foot. It is divided into two main sections. Kingswood 1 consists of the old house (looks like some kind of mansion) and some less appealing blocks of flats, which bear a suspicious resemblance to the suburbs of various cities in the former Soviet bloc. The rooms themselves are quite nice, with a washbasin, although toilets, showers and pantries are shared. Kingswood 2 is newer and has slightly more appealing architecture. It's divided into four blocks, which have eight flats of nine rooms each. Rooms have an en-suite, however pantries are still shared one to a flat, and aren't really big enough. There is also only a microwave to cook with. This is probably due to the fact that this is catered accommodation, with a canteen on site. The quality of the cooking can vary greatly in the space of a week. Still, the VAT exemption and the 50% discount for residents seem pretty generous, until you realise that you've pretty much paid for it already in your hall fees. There is also a Spanish-themed Tapas bar, (opening hours irregular) which, if nothing else, offers authentically Spanish timekeeping and service. Food is worth the wait though. One thing I will stress is that wherever you are living, DO NOT leave alcohol, cakes or other desirable foodstuffs in the fridge or pantry unless necessary. Each flat usually has at least one food thief, and we suspect the cleaners often help themselves too. I'm actually pretty glad I live there, though, not least because there is ample parking (permits are free, bring proof of ownership and insurance) and it's in a quiet, leafy part of the countryside.
- Brunel, which is just down the road from Kingswood, is up for sale this year, and assuming RH fend off some greedy property developer, they will buy it and hopefully refurbish the place. My other half (yes, that's what all the soppy smiles on my signature are about) lives there, and to be honest I feel sorry for her. The entire site is rather run-down and I'm amazed there's so little vandalism. Inside, the corridors are somewhat prison-like, although the rooms are reasonably sized. Again, toilets and kitchens (self-catered) are shared. It's all rather depressing really, and has some bad design faults (like the curtains don't fully cover the windows, meaning light wakes you up in the morning. Don't ask how I know this). It's cheaper than most, though.
-Founder's looks fantastic from the outside (tell your friends you live in a château!) but sadly the rooms appear to be rather nineteenth-century as well. Heating is provided by gas fires Shakespeare would have recognised, and there isn't even a washbasin in the room. To cap it all, Founder's also has a very Heath Robinson wireless internet connection, due to the fact that they're not allowed to drill cables through walls in a listed building. A walk along the upper floor corridors will often reveal students with laptops squirming into awkward positions in order to get any signal. False fire alarms in the night are a real nuisance too. Still, you pay what you get for, something which is true for pretty much everything at RHUL. At least scholars are entitled to a free room in Founder's (probably to flog them off as nobody smart would want to live there).
-Gower and Wedderburn, the newest developments (at the moment) are two curvy buildings at the bottom of the campus. I've never been inside, but they appear to be pretty much the same as Kingswood 2, apart from proper kitchens (self-catered). Convenient for Medicine and the union. And apparently has an eco-friendly roof, although obviously you wouldn't see it unless you we on a not very eco-friendly flight out of Heathrow.
-Reid is another self catered hall not far from Gower and Wedderburn. This year was a pretty bad one to be living there, as it's right next to the building site for the new halls and so residents got understandably cross about having builders working all hours of the day. On the plus side, the constant stream of construction vehicles has demolished several speed bumps in the vicinity.
-Tuke, Butler and Williamson are the reason for Reid students' misery, and they'll be opening for the new term. They also appear to be of the Kingswood 2 / Gower model (also self-catered). They've also promised to make the eco-roofs a bit more visible this time.
-Runnymede consists of several two-story blocks at the very bottom of the site. They seem to look pretty much the same style as Reid. Some car parking is available, although we suspect you've have to complete the Twelve Tasks of Hercules and pay through the nose before they let you park there.
Penrose and Highfield Court are only available to third years or postgrads, so don't worry about 'em.
The rather strange names for the halls come from the fact they're named after previous principals, apart from Kingswood which is named after the house it's built round.