Most of us reach that point in the semester where we’ve got little more than a few coppers and quite a bit of dust accumulated in our purses and wallets – some earlier than others. However, there are a range of free and cheap things to do to pass your spare time around UEA that won’t leave you out of pocket but will make your uni experience a whole lot better…
1. Grab an ice cream in Eaton Park
Eaton Park is the place to be if you want to properly chill out. About a 5-10 minute walk from UEA, the park is a favourite of local families, and is far enough away to feel totally separate to campus. Take a picnic to enjoy if you need to count the pennies, and watch the model-boat racers on the pond, take in some cycle speedway or just chill on the benches around the bandstand. Take a football for a kickabout with your friends too.
2. Explore Earlham Park
If you want to kill an hour or two, Earlham Park could be your ideal destination. Situated on the edge of campus across the road from the SportsPark, Earlham Park might not be as headline-grabbing as the Broad, but it was the location for BBC Radio 1’s Big Weekend in 2015, and saw 50,000 people watching performances from the likes of Snoop Dogg, David Guetta, Foo Fighters, Taylor Swift and Charli XCX. Definitely worth a visit if you’re a fan, or if you just want a quick but quiet walk away from the bustle of campus between lectures.
3. Go down to the Broad
The Broad, perhaps the pinnacle of UEA’s on-site nature, is the go-to place for a free afternoon on campus with your friends, or for a peaceful walk or jog by yourself. With beautiful views of the Ziggurats across the lake and loads of trees lining your path around it, this is many people’s UEA highlight. You may even wish to venture further afield and see what’s over the bridge…
4. See some art at the Sainsbury Centre
A middle class art gallery situated right in the middle of campus. You’d think it’d cost a bomb, right? Not so! There are free parts which anyone can access, and UEA students can take advantage of free memberships for a year, so you can look around all of the works and special exhibitions at your leisure if you want to unwind.
5. Improve your future prospects at CareerCentral
It doesn’t cost anything to make those first steps towards a successful graduate career. Staff from CareerCentral, based in the Street opposite Blue Bar and along from the Shop, are happy to look over CVs and applications, and give you any advice you need with regards to finding that perfect work experience, internship or job. They also offer a range of free workshops, from sessions designed to sharpen up your job-hunting proficiency like CV and LinkedIn advice to subject-specific advice talks and alumni panels. These are all listed on their website, where you can quickly and easily search for and book on to any session which takes your fancy. You can also book a quick appointment for any help you need by calling them or popping in.
6. Find out about something different with a free lecture
There are plenty of free lectures on campus if you fancy learning about something out of the ordinary. The politics department are particularly known for their public evening lectures, having recently hosted a series of events discussing Brexit, but additional ones are put on by many schools depending on what you are interested in finding out. Best of all, many of these are free, open to all, and don’t require booking in advance so you can try something different!
7. Pop down to say hello to the ponies
A walk to see the ponies is always a fun way to pass an hour, and can also be tied in with a trip to the lake. The ponies are the most docile creatures you’ll ever find, having been used to generations of students coming down to visit. Come and say hi for an animal encounter and good Instagram opportunity.
8. Watch some sports at Colney Lane
If you’re bored on a Wednesday afternoon, a trip to Colney Lane could be just what you need. You can watch a whole range of sports, for free, from Football to Rugby to Lacrosse and everything in-between! You could even support your friends at other universities if they visit for an away fixture, or just get behind the UEA teams.
9. Take a bus ride into the city
If you have a bus pass, the city opens up a whole range of thrifty opportunities for a bargain. Get off the 25 or 26 from campus at Castle Meadow, and the market, a couple of minutes’ walk away, can be home to some absolute steals including cheap food if you’re hungry. If you get off at the stop before near Debenhams, you can walk back to Chapelfield Gardens (the park with the bandstand on the right just before you pass the theatre). Or, spend an afternoon browsing the quirky independent shops of the Norwich Lanes, the city’s backstreets. If the city’s not your thing, flex the muscles of your bus pass by having a look at the timetables and organising a trip further afield to Wroxham or Thorpe St Andrew, both locations in which you can chill out by the riverside.
10. Actually do some work
This one is a bit of a groundbreaking idea for some of us students, but actually doing some work is an excellent way to occupy yourself during those poor weeks towards the end of term. You won’t spend a penny on a long library session, and it’s almost guaranteed to make you feel better about yourself. So, get that piece of coursework in early, do some extra reading or try some revision: because if you’re broke AF, chances are you’ve spent your student loan somehow and you could do with this extra study…