THE STUDENTS have only two months left of their second year. There are two weeks of Easter holidays, a month of lectures and two weeks of exams, so some of them are already planning ahead for the far more exciting prospect of summer.
Alistair has started organising a trip to Africa. "I finish on 9 June and I leave two days later," he explains. "After that, I'm going straight to America where I'll be studying next year." As soon as Easter is over he's going to start selling off possessions he won't need, and he's storing the rest of his stuff in London. "I can't wait to pack my backpack and go off to Africa for seven or eight weeks. At the moment the plan is to fly to Nairobi and take a tour to Victoria Falls and then it's on to Cape Town and Johannesburg." Unfortunately, his American girlfriend, Tori, won't be joining him. "Her parents are scared of her going to Africa, but I'll see her soon enough in America."
So how is Alistair going to pay for his trip? He's made a lot of money from the club nights he's promoted, and he and David are going to relaunch their latest venture, Magic Mondays, on 19 April. "I'm also selling my bike and my computer, which is five years old. It's the simplest word processor with only an 80K memory. When I come back I'll need to get a business loan for a better computer."
Apart from organising his summer trip, he's using the Easter break to do some college work. "I had my holiday when Tori was over, so I need to catch up and get rid of all my essays and do some revision," he explains. But before he can do that he's got to entertain his dad. A professor at the University of North Carolina, he's coming over to Britain on business and he's going to meet up with his son in Manchester. So is Alistair going to take him on a guided tour? "I've no idea where I'm going to take him. I guess we'll just catch up and have a few beers. I'm going to give him some stuff to take back to Tori in the States because he owes me one. He made me take a huge Christmas present when I went to visit him last time."
Ian is using the nice weather to play his favourite sport, tennis, and he's looking forward to a course trip to Amsterdam next week. "We're going to look at urban planning, but we've also got to do a study on our own," he says. "Mine's on Amsterdam coffee shops. I'll get to speak to the owners, so maybe I'll get some free gear!"
Has this got anything to do with geography? "It's all about the locations and settlements of people," he says. "I'll be trying to find out if the shop-owners are locals or migrated people from different countries who are making a quick buck." He's also writing a 5,000-word essay on abortion, which is making him queasy. "I've got to compare how health policies differ in the UK and the USA. I could have done smoking, but I chose this instead. It was quite silly really, because some of the things I've read have been quite disturbing, especially the old methods of abortion."
Meanwhile, the warm weather seems to have mellowed the mood of the house. "We're all, like, pretty easy and cool now," says Ian, although he's still feeling the strain of living in a mixed house. "In a way, I wish I had moved into a house with all lads now. With girls, you don't know if you can have a laugh with them. Every lad in this house is chilled, but girls have moods. I'm trying to understand them."
Alistair, on the other hand, doesn't think there is a girl-versus-boy thing going on at all. He gets on really well with Tash and Leona. `There are naturally more divisions between blokes and girls," he acknowledges. "Dave and I are best mates and we do a lot of stuff together. Tash and Leona are best mates, so it naturally happens that we go out in groups, although Tash and I go out together a lot. I don't really see any big divide. It's just who's mates with who."
Still, he keeps a safe distance from any trouble. "I don't want to get involved in any arguments about the telephone bill, although we still can't make out-going calls... I don't see the point of taking sides with anyone because it gets silly."
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