Finally, I’ve got the time and the inclination to write! Last time I talked about the pitfalls and must-have experiences working as a gardener.
So it seems fitting my reason for beginning this at 4pm on a Monday is due to the van dying…
But that’s not what I want to talk about today. With the storm clouds brewing and a throaty cough developing my thoughts drift to freshers flu. Well… to University life anyway.
Last Wednesday night I drove up to the University of Sheffield (admittedly a less than eco-friendly transport solution), home to the breathtaking Peak District, to an overwhelmingly large vegan community and to my little sister, Esther, whom I’ve been promising to visit for two years now.
Disgraceful I know.
None-the-less, it was a fantastic weekend full of familiarity, nostalgia and relief!
In the past I’ve only visited a small handful of Universities other than my own (Exeter). RVC was a small Uni, dwarfed by the city of London providing a realistic take on city life away from home. The Univeristy of Brighton’s Eastbourne campus was also tiny, with few students and little diversity outside of sports societies.
Which is why from the moment I arrived in Sheffield (a true University city) I was reminded of my time in Exeter.
And it wasn’t just the overwhelming amount of young adults (in stark contrast to my home town), it was the street layouts, the student houses, the pubs and the bars and the infectious optimism which just seemed to pervade the very air.
So I stuck with Esther for the weekend and finally understood why she gets so distressed being in Pevensey Bay without a car.
The volume of activities on her agenda just for Thursday and Friday was astonishing, and even when I left for Nottingham Saturday morning I knew I was missing out on even more in the following days.
Thursday we drove over to the peaks. Went for a long (or at least I thought it was a long) walk in a place called “Hope Valley”. Got pie at the pub then made our way back for a night on the town…
…turned out it was a Geography social. So already I’ve met Esther’s housemates, all of whom were great people btw, but now I’m about to embark on a 200 strong white t-shirt social… And I sheepishly admit it’s my first ever Geography social awkward…
So it’s off for good old pre-drinks. And if my palms weren’t already sweaty from unprecedented levels of social interaction, the pre-social party seems to be made up exclusively of Human Geography 2nd and 3rd year females.
You know that awkward wave you give to a crowd as you walk on stage? I remember about 20 sets of eyes on me. I took a long swig of my 2 for £5 Kronemborgg…
From then proceeded a night of pretending. Pretending I was a student, pretending I belonged there… and the more I pretended the more I longed to be back. Back in the Uni bubble where the passers-by smile and the boozing seems marginally less tragic.
Once people discovered I was an imposter they were interested in where my Geography degree had got me — to which I laughed and said — don’t worry, you’ll do better!
Fast forward to Friday evening after a tour of the city and we’re about to attend another social! This time Esther’s on committee so she not only has an obligation to be there, but also to mingle and bond with new members.
This was Bummit (a charity hitchhiking society).
After a meet and greet at the pub we walked to a night market where live music was being set up and food stalls were already in full swing. After a slightly chaotic run around we settled by some bin fires and chatted.
It was a strange feeling. I felt like one of the freshers, but was actually the oldest there :’)
Oh wait… actually I wasn’t the oldest. There was a 50 year old ex-student who tagged along… Still not sure why.
I was too tired to stay long. Some would say I was the bum of the bummit social… har har. So we trekked back to Esther’s and watched the Mighty Boosh with Jenny — Esther’s flatmate/ my new friend.
What followed was the perfect end to a crazy couple of days. I took the short drive down to Nottingham to a small, delightful village called Bunny where my old housemate and 3rd year bromance, Rob now lives.
Here I was reminded of what MY Univeristy experience was like, for the most part.
It was Fifa, it was oven meals, and it was quality procrastination at its best.
Of course I’m glad I don’t have the ongoing stress of dissertations, essays and exams to complete now. But living in Pevensey Bay away from the Uni bubble things aren’t as they were.
And maybe that’s best. For, although I believe I saw the best version of myself while I was at University, it’s an unsustainable way of life. One day, sooner or later, one needs to find a job and make a living.
However, that being said, I believe there’s a balance to be had. See, that best version of me: the confident Vice Captain of the Badminton Club, aiming for a 2.1 in his degree. That version of me isn’t lost.
That’s where the balance comes back into play. Because although the storm is upon us, man flu in full whack and University completely over, it’s important not to waste time being less than you can be.
I guess that’s a sensible reason for travelling, to rekindle that individuality and confidence of yesterday.
And probably get Hepatitis B.