I can still vividly recall my student days. Or at least some of them. Even though they were, ahem... 20 something years ago. Way back then, when Margaret Thatcher had inconceivably been elected for a third term and the nascent acid house scene was about to change British society forever, I was all set to embark on my own life-changing pilgrimage. I must admit, it didn’t feel like that at the time. I was more into the fact that I would have the freedom to do what I wanted when I wanted – as well as, of course, immersing myself totally into the wonderful world of academia.
I thought, like all teenagers from every era, I already knew it all before I’d even stepped onto the Merrydown cider-stained carpet of the student union bar. But, in reality, I knew very little. Apart from, as my parents were quick to remind me, my encyclopaedic knowledge of music. As I used every excuse under the sun to duck out of cramming for my A-levels and instead swot up on the NME and Melody Maker, they were quick to point out that if there was a degree in pop music, I’d walk out with a first.
So I arrived at my halls of residence brimming with confidence, replete with my prized record player and groaning boxes of records. Freshers’ week awaited – and freedom. Freedom to buy a job lot of Marlboro reds as soon as my parents’ car left campus. Freedom to blast out 808 State at volume 11 morning, noon and night. Freedom to blow most of my term’s grant on a cutting edge WATERPROOF! custard yellow Sony Walkman (like a primitive iPod for cassettes, younger readers. If you don’t know what a cassette is, I hang my head in shame). Freedom to basically make mistakes, learn from them and actually grow up.
I had a fantastic time studying for my degree and changed immeasurably over the three years. Being a student allows you the freedom to dedicate your time studying something you actually want to learn about. As well as learning a hell of a lot about yourself along the way.
In just the first term I learned that putting an entire tube of tomato purée and a whole bulb of garlic into a spaghetti bolognese is probably a little OTT. Being able to smoke whenever you want – including in your own room! – is a surefire way to get a throat infection inside a week. And blowing all of your money on a personal stereo is not the wisest thing to do. But the yellow headphones did look cool.
I also realised that my angst-ridden teenage daydream of moving to the then Czechoslovakia and hanging out in bohemian cafés, writing poetry and reading Milan Kundera while dressed head-to-toe in black, was probably not really for me.
I took up DJing. And got voted on to the Students’ Union as the Social Secretary; which meant I helped organise the union events. I drank too much. I fell in love. Got chucked. Fell in love. Got chucked. Fell in love...
It’s a cliché – or should that be a truism? – that you do meet some lifelong friends when you’re studying for your degree. Or these days, due to geographical limitations and children/family complications, that should really be lifelong Facebook friends – hi there Martin, Jill, Jo, Mark, Hamish, Jez, Tim and Russ.
The best days of your lives? That might be pushing it a bit, but they certainly played a major role in moulding me into the person I am today and I’m grateful for that. If I could turn back the clock I wouldn’t change a thing –apart from perhaps making more of an effort to attend every lecture.
Enjoy yourselves, immerse yourself in your studies and live life to the full. Your future self will thank you.Reuse content