Sorry this is so long but I wanted to cover everything.
Before Sunderland gave me a last-minute offer for a postgraduate course, I had been offered a place at another university (Edge Hill), which I took up. But even though I've missed a couple of weeks at Sunderland, I'm considering enrolling (I've already accepted their offer but there's a cooling off period and I haven't actually enrolled, online or otherwise) and starting there, but wondered what people thought. I'm outside the cooling off period but as I haven't actually enrolled and therefore haven't been taught or registered with Sunderland, I don't think it matters much. Here's the situation:
At Edge Hill, I almost ended up without accommodation after one of the staff told me to arrive with my luggage then lied about what he'd told me. I was then placed in their student accommodation after I was literally about to call up the Guardian, knowing the Guardian covers education-related stories, and found that the people who later moved into the accommodation block were both hostile to older students, and a number were prejudiced (I'm male but sometimes like to wear a skirt, mainly for comfort) and just wanted to use me for free alcohol. I'm also in a flat with people who are mostly rude and never apologise for being rude, plus whilst I have friends from a variety of countries, I feel uncomfortable in my current flat as the group of people I just mentioned act like it's their own country (Germany), especially when one of their friends is visiting, and I don't feel part of the flat; I feel isolated in it instead. I only get on with one person, but she isn't around much and as lovely as she is, struggles to communicate as she's Chinese and her English isn't particularly good, though she's trying. And I've bought loads of things for the flat yet in front of a visitor, the aforementioned group tried to make it look like only the Germans were buying anything (making me look like an a****hole), when the only thing they've bought is kitchen paper (and that was a cheap rubbish version).
However, I've met a really nice person in another flat, I've been able to start doing ballet (great because I find it relaxing), and, unusually for a guy, I'm able to do netball here (though I keep forgetting to take it up) - for a quid a session. It's for fun, not competitive. And I love netball. And there are a few other positives. And I have anxiety and can get confused easily, so I'm not sure how I'd feel living in another area, miles away from anyone I know (though apparently I can get a coach cheaply from Sunderland to Manchester).
So anyway, the pros and cons of the places:
- Free language lessons (I think; not sure if it's too late to take them up)
- Lessons are only 2 nights a week. As I'm generally awake during the night, lessons at night is great for me
- Met nice person in another flat and have watched movies with her, and briefly met a nice girl in a house off-campus (I tend to get on with girls better than guys)
- Free performances (up to 4) at Arts Centre
- Opportunity to improve poetry
- May help me improve stories
- Cheap ju-jitsu (though I'd have to finish each lesson early as one course lesson is immediately afterwards and it takes time to walk across campus). £1 a lesson.
- Cheap netball. £1 a session.
- Free swimming as I'm in on-campus accommodation
- Friend has offered to help me improve my swimming ability
- Aldi nearby, so can buy cheap food
- Free bus into town centre, though the town centre is in walking distance for fully-mobile people anyway
- Free access to the Tate Liverpool
- 24-hour library (though it's difficult to get a private computer at times, and sometimes I need one)
- Short train journey from Manchester (I have friends in Manchester and Salford and family in Salford)
- Have started ballet and enjoy it
- Course has been boring so far, with the person who runs the course (and also teaches on it) droning on with a PowerPoint
- The nearest beach is a bus or train journey away
- Terrible at vegan food provision (other than at one cafe on campus which isn't open as much as the main one). They claim otherwise but apparently the only way to know if vegan food is available is to check a website on the day, but it doesn't seem clear and nothing is ever labelled vegan so I have to hold up the line to ask questions
- Accommodation service almost made me homeless, one staff member lied, and it was only the threat of bad publicity (I write for a couple of websites and have the Guardian's number in my phone) that avoided me being chucked into the street or insecure lodgings. Obviously not a great start for someone who has anxiety. Accommodation service is also trying to forced me to sign a different contract, online, from the one I physically signed, accompanied with a not-so-veiled threat of unlawful eviction if I don't sign
- Prejudice against older students so I feel left out of things, not helped by the rude people in my flat
- Confusing who is actually on my (full-time) course as we're mixed with the part-time students on one day, so hard to really get to know people. As I'm apparently the first master's student ever to be in the student accommodation, and other people travel in, that makes it even more difficult to get to know people on my course
- Students' Union seems corrupt. The union people avoided properly advertising nominations for the recent elections, which meant less competition for their roles. Not sure how to complain about this or what I can do. It also seems disorganised, having "arranged" a night out, only for people to then have to pay extra for transport including expensive taxis
- Feel kinda isolated and keep considering whether to transfer to Sunderland
- A course that I would probably enjoy more (MA Media and Cultural Studies)
- The course is apparently taught by lectures, seminars, critiques, and workshops. The course at Edge Hill is taught in a small class with the tutor waffling on and not much interaction. There are workshops in terms of looking at others students' work and critiquing it, but that seems to be about it.
- Not far from a beach. I think I would be studying at the Tom Cowie Campus
- Specific postgraduate accommodation
- Far away and unfamiliar location
- Unsure if postgraduate accommodation is still available or all full. And no idea if it's run professionally or not
- Missed Fresher's week so societies will have already started stuff and I might miss out. I'd particularly like to be able to do something drama-related (I can act) or dance-related (I can't dance well so it would have to be a group that allowed beginners)
- No idea what the hours and times of the course are
- May not be able to do netball. If the only netball group is competitive, there are rules of governing bodies that insist on single-gender teams
- Doesn't seem to offer anything free or cheap. The university clubs and societies seem expensive, e.g. £45
- No idea what the computing facilities are like
- No idea whether the uni is as rubbish at providing vegan food as Edge Hill. The fact that vegan food isn't mentioned on the websites suggests it is, as, from experience, a vague suggestion that you can speak about dietary requirements is likely to result in vague answers and "we sometimes do this" kinds of responses
- Missed 2 weeks already (well, by the end of this week anyway)
- Didn't get back to me in response to a question, so the communication between staff and students might not be good
- Might feel even more isolated and wish I was back at Edge Hill
Are there 24-hour computers? Is the place good for vegans? Does Sunderland offer anything free or cheap (e.g. clubs/societies, languages, outings, etc.)?
So anyway, what does everyone think? I know I am the only person who can make the decision, but other opinions to help me think more properly would help.
... and the ones that won't