Thoughts on Entering 3rd Year ....Cynicism and Cider; or, what happens when you start your final year of university and realise that in a year's time you'll be moving 200 miles south to Wimbledon to start a training course with £20,000+ worth of debt and no idea how to pay a gas bill. Christ.
Freshers week of third year has just ended, and I feel old. Yes, old. Not old like I should be settling down with a
Labrador and a suburban bungalow and a copy of Reader’s Digest, but old as in I might be getting past the ‘student’ mode of living that has been the norm for the last couple of years.
Allow me to explain.
My feelings this past week have leant towards the notion that going out every night is massively over-rated; freshers week is forced. The amount of over-eager freshers reps who have asked me if I know where to park on South West/ which group I’m in for the bar crawl/ etc etc etc, only to be silenced by one shot of my cynical glare and the unspoken message ‘I’m a bloody third year!’ has made me feeling sort of… well, bitchy.
But I’m finding it hard to feel bad about my cynicism.
When I started here in October 2008, everyone I met told me the same things. Freshers week was going to be the MOST AMAZING week of my life. I was going to meet SO MANY people. It was going to be the BEST thing I’d remember about university.
Erm, yes. Because the constant pressure to be perky, to talk to every single person you meet in case they become your new best friend, to ward off the hangover in case you come across as grouchy, to survive all week on four hours sleep a night, to live up to the expectations of everyone around you, not to mention your home friends who will doubtless be having the VERY BEST week of their lives too really is a recipe for a great week.
I could never escape the feeling that freshers week is the most superficial time that anyone has, at any university. Everyone is on their best behaviour; no one is genuine. And in any case, why force getting to meet people? I have a beautiful, hilarious, individual group of friends at this university. But I met them in seminars, over long lunches, and on film nights in their flats. A deeper, less practised and more natural connection was forged than would have been possible at 3am on the post-headphone disco Sugar bus.
I felt mildly sorry for the first years I saw on their Big Night Out last week, all fresh faced in their horrible t-shirts that identified them as freshers, sat around tables in Friary with their VKs, determined to have a good night. The best advice they could have been given was not which bars have the best drinks offers (they’ll discover this themselves soon enough) but that freshers week is very, very unlikely to be the high point of their time at university –nor should they expect it to be.
The best week of their lives? I can almost guarantee that by November they’ll have topped it easily.