This year I’m going to start a student encyclopaedia of experience and stereotype. Not that I’m making sweeping judgements about any lack of individuality or originality (honest!), but it simply occurs to me that on the surface people fit quite snugly into a small number of categories, and that certain stages in everyone’s university career are so similar they can fit into almost distinct historic periods… please respond with your own stereotypes!
YEAR 1 TERM 1 [noun]
A 10-week period assigned to the formation of a new habitation that must be abruptly evacuated by 10am of the Saturday ending week 10. A mad frenzy of co-existence, residential groups must bond quickly to replace high school nostalgia. Romantic attachments are formed and finished quickly, although one couple from the first week will survive long-term. Inter-residential-hall relationships unadvised. Union events are obligatory, but despite the looking winter the cloakroom is unused in favour of gaining daily exercise by running back to the hall of residence in stilettos. Christmas celebrations begin two months in advance. Academic attendance is satisfactory (survey only includes teaching hours after midday) but intellectual ability is tenuous and undermined by ‘cleverer people’ who do their reading. The Christmas vacation increases disorientation about the meaning of life. The concept of ‘being a student’ is confused by enforced exit from campus for 4 weeks and regain of dependence on the family home. The parental unit repeats (a lot) unwillingness to be treated as a hotel. Two worlds collide. Students split into two camps:
1. Get me out of here I’ve so moved on. This camp is usually marked by superior feelings after submergence into ‘higher’ education. They play a ‘whose life is more perfect’ competition with school friends in order to prove their happiness. To show intellectual development and stimulation (and through conviction that the family is ignorant) they impose socialist lectures on unwitting parents.
2. Mummy, please don’t make me go back. Aside from a few people who may have reason for unhappiness, this camp has blocked themselves from any chance of fun. Their Christmas reunions are sincere, but consistent whining about the evils of independent living and cohabitation is burdensome to the happier group. They are much confused by the ‘Top Banana’ concept and will not consider early morning pyjama trips to Tesco.