Tuesday, 11 August 2015

The Ultimate 24 Hour London Student Experience with Unite, Part 1

Hey you! Fancy going to London, being put up in nice accommodation, hanging out with cool people and being sent off to have the most awesome 24 hours in the capital as you possibly can? All at no expense to yourself?

Yeah, I think it’s a no-brainer, don’t you?

So, last week I made my way down to the big smoke to take part in Unite’s London Student Experience!

Day One

Along with 11 other students (or new graduates), I was staying in Unite’s Stratford One student accommodation, right next to Westfield Shopping Centre (I imagine the students living there struggle to stay out of their overdrafts!) 

You know Unite? They do snazzy student accommodation in a fair few big uni cities around the UK – they had some in Bristol but I never got to visit so I was super excited to check out one of their many London properties.

Oh my days, the building is HUUUUGE! Like, ludicrously big. Upon arriving at the building I’d presumed perhaps five floors were Unite’s. But no. It was the whole 24 storey building! Crazy. And yes, it’s seriously nice inside, and made my student halls look like a hovel.

Ever the keen bean, I was the first to arrive, and as I unpacked my things and waited for the others in my corridor to arrive, it felt JUST like being back at Fresher’s. There was excitement in the air, new people to meet, and the unknown lay ahead.

Luckily all the other students/graduates were total babes, and you can find out more about them here if ya like.

Oh, and see how Unite had asked us all what our fave snacks were? Yeah, that wasn’t just a random personality question. Unite had only gone and given me a jar of peanut butter! So yeah, I made myself at home preeeetty sharpish.

After welcome drinks in the Sky Lounge on the 24th floor, we were sent off for an evening of bonding, beer, burgers and bowling in Westfield. Ideal

Day Two

We started the day with breakfast overlooking London again. It was a gooood breakfast. 
We bloggers are sociable creatures.
And not long after breakfast we were plied with more food. 

And not long after that, lunch was served. 

Oh, and in between all the eating some other stuff did occur, promise. We learnt about digital marketing from the lovely chaps at Steak, and then the fab Tim Richardson taught us some filming basics too.

Post-lunch we were told our teams for the following day’s challenge: I was with the lovely Ruby, Alex and Iman – soon-to-be-known as Team RAIR (because of our initials, in case you didn’t get that) – and we swiftly got to work planning our adventures for the following day!

The task was to have the ultimate student 24 hours in London, off the beaten track, on a budget, and document it all as we went. I’m sure you’ll agree that’s no mean feat in a city as huge (and awesome) as LDN, but we were more than up for the challenge. Thanks to all my Twitter followers for your great suggestions – I only wish we could’ve done them all!

There was a definite sense of friendly competitiveness when we rejoined our other teams for a Domino’s feast that evening, as well as palpable excitement for the following day. Oh, and a smidge of dread at the prospect of getting up at 4am, but just a smidge. I was so excited!

Day Three

Before I knew it, my alarm was screaming at me and it was time for the challenge to commence! The plan was to start the day watching the sun rise all together from Unite’s Sky Lounge. Unfortunately, it was an overcast day, so it was more a case of watching it get lighter rather than any sun actually rising, but we made do. Most of us were mainly focused on caffeinating ourselves and enjoying a croissant (or two) before setting off for the day anyway.

We were each given a budget of £30 for activities, £30 for food and a travel card for the day – some thought this was generous, others thought it tight. Either way, we were RAIRing to go (see what I did there?)

And then the groups went our separate ways, destined only to follow each other’s antics on Twitter. Or so we thought.

It turned out one of the groups had planned to get on the same train and then off at the same stop as us. Suspicious. But thankfully they weren’t starting the day the same way as Team RAIR!

I’ll be honest, I was pretty chuffed with how we kicked off our 24 hours. What is there to do at 6.30am in London, you may be wondering? Yeah, I was too. Then my dear friend Rachel (not referring to myself in the third person, honest) told me about Morning Gloryville’s early morning rave in Shoreditch (where else?) and I was sold. 

Remember how much I loved this early morning rave in Bristol? Exactly. The rest of my team may have been a little unsure at first, but unsurprisingly they blimmin’ loved it.

We had our faces covered with glitter and spent the next few hours waking up in style: raving, dancing, doing yoga, drinking smoothies… It was awesome! Big thanks to Morning Gloryville for squeezing us in at the last minute. We even made it onto the London Snapchat story which basically made my life.

After such an energetic start to the day we were more than in need of a second breakfast. Enter: the Cereal Killer Café on Brick Lane. There’s been a lot of hype over this place, and I was SO keen to go. 

You guys, I loved it. I want to go back and eat ALL the cereals!

I eventually decided on Reese’s Puffs and Crunchy Nut Clusters topped with banana and hazelnut milk. It was diviiiiine. We also somehow managed to bump into our rivals friends Team Bueller there. Small city, is London.

Next stop: Sky Garden. And this… This was something special.

Seemingly a world away from edgy Brick Lane, in the heart of the City, a bazillion floors up (I believe that’s the precise figure), a visit to Sky Garden gives you the most amaaaaazing views over London. It was so cool! Also, it’s free as long as you book in advance. How awesome is that?

What was extra special was that we actually saw a couple get engaged up there! It was so cute. And it turned out they’d been together for TEN years! Like, about time, dude. I noticed the ring was a whopper, and they looked so happy, so I guess it was worth the wait.

After a sit-down and a spot more caffeine (factoring in rest-time is crucial when one wishes to stay up for 24 hours) we set off in search of more food (also crucial): froyo for lunch, anyone?

I’d heard about a fab new froyo place called Sloane Bros and was keen to try it out so dragged my team suggested that we go there. 

It was so cool! The owner, Sebastian, was a total babe. He let us try all the flavours before serving us each the most ginormous froyos I’d ever seen in my life. It was SO good! I had dulce de leche froyo with raspberries, strawberries, a peanut butter brownie and caramel sauce. The dream.

Too many froyo pics? NEVERRRR!

Next up, we had a wander through Shoreditch, popping into some cute vintage shops... 

...and up to Boxpark. I'd neither been to nor heard of Boxpark before (Iman knew about it), but it was a really cool place full of interesting, little independent boutiques and cafés.

And d’you know what, gang? I’m going to leave it there for now as there’s still so much more to come and I know you’re all busy people. (Plus it has taken all of three hours to upload these pictures. #countrysidewifiproblems.) I understand the suspense is probably going to kill you – Will we win the challenge? Will we manage to stay awake?! – but don’t worry, part two of this adventure will be along in a jiffy.

What are your thoughts so far?

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