This Student Life: But where's the smell coming from?

Week 5 at the Manchester student house: Dani's living life to the full. Tasha and Leona have cleaned the carpets, and - hey - they changed colour. By Cayte Williams
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The Independent Culture
IF THE Manchester students were compared to The Young Ones, they would be more Cliff Richard than Vivian and Neil. Despite having a kitchen that hasn't seen Demestos since 1982, they are an amazingly clean-living sort of bunch.

Even Leona got the vacuum cleaner out the other day. She and Tasha finally decided enough was enough when it came to living in squalor. Now they're astonished because the carpet "is a completely different colour ". But some things never change - there's still a suspiciously pungent odour around the place. "I'm sure there are dead people under the carpet," says Tasha. "We've looked behind the sofa to try and find out where the smell is coming from, but we can't. Even when the kitchen was clean, it was still there."

Still, the girls chucked out three big wheelie bins of rubbish. It's made Tasha, the minimalist, very happy. "My room's still bare," she says. "I need possessions, but I don't like clutter." One suspects she may have moved into the wrong house.

In between all the cleaning, Tasha and Leona have also managed to find time to hit the local Seventies night, Love Train. "We tried to dress up in Seventies gear," explains Leona, "but all we had was glitter. We're going shopping next time so we can dress up properly."

Meanwhile, Rachael's decided to expand her creative horizons, and has written a review for the student magazine. "I've had five essays to hand in over the last two weeks," she explains, "but once they're done, I'm going to send the article in. It's a review of an album, DJ Pogo Presents The Breaks, and I've just got to see how it goes down."

Ian has out-done himself with a 37-hour bar-shift week. Unfortunately this has meant that he's also had to forego a night at his favourite club, Gatecrasher, in Sheffield. If this wasn't bad enough, flat mates Alistair and Tasha made the Saturday night gig instead. "It's Sunday lunchtime and they're still not home yet" he says, possibly a tad miffed.

But if there's one person who personifies the dynamic student, it's Dani. More active than Lara Croft at Level 3, she balances her different interests like plates on poles.

So what exactly has she been up to? There's the sky-diving, the scuba- diving, the part-time job for the Students Union. And, of course, studying for her degree. "Sometimes I feel like I've bitten off more than I can chew, but at the same time it's great that so much is going on. I never have time to get bored or depressed."

Dani brings a new meaning to the word enthusiasm. She makes Anneka Rice look de-motivated. "I'm very lucky to be happy and enjoying myself," she says. "My only regret is that I haven't been in touch with friends and family enough."

This is the kind of woman who wakes up on a friend's settee amongst the debris of a 21st birthday, dashes home and packs for a field-trip in 20 minutes flat. All with a raging hangover.

"I only just made the coach in time and had to hike around the Lake District all day covered in party glitter," says the Environmental Biology student who hopes to do a PhD after she graduates. "But that's what life's all about. Being so active makes me feel healthy. It also helps me to think instead of just drifting around."

The idea of Dani drifting aimlessly is pretty impossible to imagine but should she have a free window in her diary she's also on Manchester University's Student Union executive as a non-sabbatical officer. She works as an internal officer and "general dogsbody". At the moment, she is looking at the college website and societies. "The Student Union is hard work but it's thought- provoking and rewarding," she says. "I've met lots of interesting people who are motivated, have a sense of direction and are a good laugh."

As far as the politics is concerned, she'd sometimes rather "be swimming with blue sharks", but at the same time she says it's doing her good. She thinks it's made her more confident and improved her communication skills. "People can have a bad attitude towards the Union," she says with all the enthusiasm of a covert, "but we're just trying to improve things. It would be great if more people got involved."

At the moment her main worry is finding a work placement for next year. Ideally she wants a career in scientific research, environmental work or ecology. "I'd love to spend some time abroad, but at the moment I'd consider anything."

So is she enjoying college? "University is a wonderful opportunity for me," says Dani. "People stop dragging their heels through life, and are more up for doing things out of the ordinary. I'm enjoying it all and hope that things will continue the way they are, if not get even better."

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