Our guest blogger and honorary doctorate, Pauline Roche, explains what the city of Birmingham can offer Arden's Blended Learning students...
Arden students are spread across over 150 countries and they come from all walks of life. Many work full-time and/or have a family and other commitments alongside their studies. Some study from home and some from hospital and they need flexibility in how they manage everything. Arden offers all that.
Birmingham is the perfect city in which to do that. Some of my favourite places in the city and surroundings are Winterbourne House and Gardens in Edgbaston, the canals network and the many theatres and cinemas showing a wide range of presentations.
I subscribe to an annual membership to Winterbourne, available to everyone, which allows me to visit the place at any time it’s open - which is most of the year! The house and gardens are expertly tended, so there is something beautiful to see and enjoy all year round. I love taking photos of the garden at different times of the year, comparing growth and the endless cycle of the seasons. Winterbourne also has a delightful café in the house, with outdoor seating when the weather allows, and I’ve sometimes made time for breakfast, lunch and afternoon tea in the one day while enjoying the tranquility of the space. Keeping up with the times, Winterbourne also has free WiFi for guests, so you could also study there in peace!
The canals are another favourite attraction in Birmingham. I grew up near the sea and love being near other bodies of water when I can’t be near the coast. There are sturdy towpaths on the canal network and it’s possible to walk most of them. Maps are available from the Canal & River Trust. Another lovely body of water is the Reservoir at Ladywood where you can walk, jog, fish or sail.
For a treat for yourself or a loved one, there are few nicer ways to celebrate than to have an afternoon tea and Birmingham has plenty of offerings in that line. I particularly enjoy the one at Centenary Lounge (pictured), the art deco café in the magnificent Moor St Station near Mark’s and Spencer’s on the High St and another one I enjoyed recently was at the Clayton Hotel.
I lived alone when I first arrived in Birmingham and was delighted to find that the city was so well-endowed with theatres and cinemas. There are several of each dotted around the city centre, and many offer discounts for students. I especially enjoy screened live performances from the National Theatre in London and independent arts venues the ElectricCinema in Station St and the Midlands Arts Centre in Cannon Hill Park both show these performances on a regular basis.
Birmingham City Centre is easy to get around and well worth exploring. And if you want to get out of the city, there is an excellent transport system including the new(ish) tram system. Studying isn’t just about keeping your head down so make sure you enjoy a bit of everything that Birmingham offers!