In order to attend a university open day, you have to book your place online through the university's website. You can't just show up as you have to go to an actual course talk which take place at specific times/on specific days. When you arrive, you have to register with a university representative before you can go into your allotted course talk. These talks typically last anywhere from 30-90 minutes and are not only a great way to learn more about the course you're interested in, but also as a way to meet potential lecturers and course mates. Once the talk is finished, you can also attend the accommodation and campus tours which are going on throughout the day (or if you arrive particularly early, you can even do this before your course talk begins). Not only are the open days important for learning about your course choices and what the university can offer you, but it can also help give you a feel for what it will be like to live there. The best thing about the open days is that everyone is in the same boat. Nobody has any expectations of you and its stress free. At this point, its the universities that are trying to sell themselves to you. Of course, not everyone is able to attend open days, and you may find yourself at a university you haven't seen in person yet (in my case it was the only one of my choices I didn't get to see before hand- but had been looking into). That being said, you should definitely try to go to at least one open day for each uni you are interested in just to get a feel for the atmosphere if nothing else. And the great thing about university open days is that if you can't make it to one of them, they hold several throughout the year.
Although I was pretty adamant about the universities I wanted to apply to, I still felt it was a good idea to visit the universities of my choice in the flesh. Booking an open day is fairly easy with the advances of modern technology. You register your name and contact information online. This is followed swiftly by a confirmation email. In particular one open day clearly stood for me, coincidentally this happened to also be my first choice.
I took a two hour train journey on the day. I was told that some student representatives would be at the train station to welcome me. I felt this was such a nice touch as I’ve never visited this city before and it would ensure I wasn't walking around like a lost lamb. As I got off at my stop my eye instantly noticed a sea of red shirts. I made my way to them, they offered me a water bottle and one student representative escorted me to the coach stand.
We arrived at the university within ten minutes and I was definitely blown away. The buildings have been standing since the past century and they definitely had a unique sense of character to them. Inside the university I was given a welcome pack (which included some yummy snacks). I was told I had the opportunity to book a tour of the university if I choose to do so. As I was alone and this was my first ever visit I booked myself into tour of the university.
There were five other people with me on the tour. The student representative was very friendly. He asked everyone individually where we had travelled from and the courses we had hoped to study. He told us he would make sure to take us to each department we were interested in. We were all able to ask him questions about his experience at the university, the social life and even job opportunities available locally whilst studying.
We stopped at each department of our choice for half an hour each. We were given a brief ten minute introduction into the subject. We were then able to meet and speak with the tutors from the specific departments. I asked one of the tutors on a course I was interested in what he expects from his students, amongst other questions. He told me of a practical session that was to be held later on that I could attend.