Plonked back in our home-town and sitting around a table at the local pub, my friends and I inevitably got chatting about the highs and lows of our first terms (five go to the same one, so not a great start), but I for some reason felt awkward contributing. The fact is, compared to them, I don’t live the ‘student life’. As everyone laughed in shared empathy at my friend Sarah – who, crippled simultaneously by chronic laziness and a distinct lack of funds, ate pasta and tomato ketchup for two meals every day – I inwardly drooled over the memories of steak served to me, while I wore a veritable cape, at formal hall.
My friends don’t always seem to understand this strange world I inhabit now. After telling a story mentioning the ‘Great Gate’, for example, they (obviously otherwise laughing at my hilarious story) couldn’t help but think that I have acquired the eccentric habit of alliteratively embellishing random everyday items, such as gates. Sensing this, I have subsequently omitted such phrases as ‘Hogwartish Hall’ in the interest of avoiding further confusion.
Whilst they have to walk 40 minutes to lectures, everything I need is in a 10-minute radius, and greater distances are therefore unthinkable. Whilst they frolic with gay abandon around all of the (somewhat) luscious grass in Newcastle, I have to obey the discreetly aggressive signs occupying every green space. Whilst they tidy their rooms, I have lovely conversations with my bedder.
Knowing people at different universities makes traipsing around them during vacation so much more fun; if we all went to similar ones, then the excitement of inevitably experiencing something new every time we meet up would sadly diminish. They may have the night life and the hustle and bustle of a big, working city, but we have our beautiful colleges, our porters and our traditions. And yes, although the contrast between our experiences can often seem odd, at the end of the day we’re all still just students slaving away for a degree.