Thursday, 30 September 2010

Freshers' Week Remembered

The Times had a feature last Saturday in which various writers shared their memories of Freshers' Week. Giles Coren suffers from severe hubris and will not join any society or be involved in any student event. Jeanette Winterton talks of the racism, sexism and snobbery of the Oxford Dons in the late 1970s (and doesn't really mention Freshers' week at all). Someone writes about their love of drama fostered by university and the many friends they made while at Manchester. Mary Beard writes a nice piece on starting classics at Cambridge in the early 1970s.

What are my abiding memories?

The overriding thing for me was that I had thought that Uni would be a clean start in comparison with my home town. Like many teenagers, I had felt that I didn't really fit in, and I had very much thought that at Uni I could make a fresh start. But it took less than a week for it to be become apparent that this wasn't going to happen. And it would be another half-dozen years at least before I really gained much insight into this.

I found my first few weeks at Uni really quite distressing. Everyone seemed to make new friends so easily while I didn't. The result? I changed degrees at the end of the first term and threw myself into my course. I attended 3 or 4 music concerts per week. I did experience much of the culture that London offers. But I made no lasting friends - and it is quite sad to read the writers in The Times as they talk of the many long-lasting friendships they made at University.

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