odward. The 19-story Imperial flagship built on the outer edge of zone 2, between Acton cemetery, Park Royal industrial estate, and the A40 arterial road. At £128 a week it boasts great facilities for a fraction of the price of the South Kensington Halls. However, for many like myself, it was not our first option or even an option we had considered at all. Instead, the seemingly-random Imperial allocation policy left us lumbered with a take-it-or-leave-it offer. At first this is a shock: you were sold on the notion of living in South Kensington and having a gentle stroll into lectures, but are now facing a 45-minute commute in the battery hen conditions of the Central Line at rush hour. You quickly accept your fate and move in, understanding that it is going to take you ages to get anywhere. But it’s all not as bad as it seems: after spending an hour and a half together each day, you’ll create great friendships with those you commute in with. Conversations will naturally pause mid-sentence during the minute-long screeching of the rails between Holland Park and Notting Hill Gate and then, without hesitation, continue like nothing happened. An introduction to Citymapper and you’ll fall in love: this app is the commuter’s bible and you’ll preach it to anyone who hasn’t heard of it.
In early minglings with non-Woodward students you may encounter the Woodward prejudice, where you’ll be an object of both sympathy and ridicule. Their feelings will eventually turn to envy, whether they want to admit it or not, following a pre-drinking session where they see your superior panoramic kitchen, double bed, and ensuite at £100 less a week than what they’re paying.
“Despite Woodward’s drawbacks, it can be nice to experience life outside of the South Ken bubble sometimes”
As a Woodwardian, you will face a certain number of dilemmas: whether ot not to take a coat, which may seem trivial to others, will be a common debate amongst your peers. Do you risk being wet all day after your rainy walk across Hyde Park, or be dry but sweat out your bodyweight on the tube and have the annoyance of carrying it around all day? The answer is unclear. Other rigorous debates include which way to uni is fastest: to get off and use the circle line or to walk from Queensway or Lancaster gate? This depends on walking speed and circle line timings; Citymapper to the rescue.
Also, don’t be fooled by the notion that you’ll be able to do extra work whilst commuting. This is a lie and deserves to be debunked: there is no room for book reading at peak time and you won’t feel like it anyway after a full day of lectures/labs. The 1.5 hours will unproductively vanish out of your day – although you might create some sweet Spotify playlists.
The night tube will leave you in both disbelief and delight as you watch drunk people zip across the city. Whether it’s the sweet, wine-like aroma migrating along the carriage from a puke covered 50-year-old, or a couple having an awkwardly public break up, there’s usually something to see as you attack your chicken nuggs/kebab on the way back to North Acton. It’s also inevitable that at some point after a night out either you or somebody you know will fall asleep on the tube and end up in West Ruislip. You’ve been warned.
Overall, the experience of Woodward forces you to learn how to navigate London’s public transport system, organise your time well, and be proactive. Despite its drawbacks, it’s nice to be outside of the South Ken bubble and this year students can look forward to the new air-conditioned central line carriages, as well as the delights of the local North Acton McDonalds. You’ll have a great year, good luck.