Moving in day!! Packed. Ready. Spent one last night with your best friends, your loved ones. Then freedom! Or prison. I fear mine is closer to the latter. Oh curse the reviews I’ve read on my new home. I believe last year’s occupier described it as, ‘grimy’ ‘cell like’ ‘damp’ and best of all ‘expensive’. So the three hour drive to the midlands feels like an eternity. Goodbye, Essex. I thought sadly as I passed yet another ‘Welcome to…Please drive carefully’ sign.
‘Welcome to Essex’. That’s it. You’re there. It’s Mike’s birthday the night you come back to the best county in England. Your best friend’s waiting for you at your front door, grinning and over the moon that you’ve come back. Immediately the process begins. Emptying the car, putting all your clothes back in the wardrobe. Everything has its own rightful place and it’s all being returned to it. Music’s blaring from your ipod dock and the straighteners are already on, the eyelashes are ready to be applied and the rub on tan is out of its box. Ah. You haven’t had this getting ready atmosphere in a long time. It’s the ritual that has been missing from your life. The zone that really gets you ready for the night ahead. Its blissful, its exciting, its everything that’s good in the world. You and her are swapping clothes and discussing what looks best, gossiping about the people you might see out and who you definitely want to avoid. That atmosphere that can only be achieved with the company of an old friend who shares the same soul as you. At this exact moment in time, everything in the world is good.
It’s happening. The wheels have been put into motion. The process has begun. You’ve done you’re investigating and have started the application for leaving your university. Five days and you’ll be gone. Five days and your room will be empty and bare and you’ll be on the motorway with your mum homebound for Essex. The most difficult thing you’ve been through in a long while. Its sounds so simple and easy, just sign a few forms and then that’s it. But it’s not really, is it? You have to find the words to tell your new friends they’ll never ever see you again, no matter how much you all say you’ll make sure you visit and everything. You know you won’t get round to it no matter how much you want to. They’re shocked. Didn’t realised you were in such discontent. You have five days of going out every night, skipping lectures to have pub lunches to cure your hangovers, make promises and shed a few tears. The last night arrives and you’re having Chinese food with one of your best friends at her mums house as she’s a local. You can’t help but think after a week that has been so different to previous ones if you’ve made the right decision. It makes you feel ill but it’s out of your hands now. It’s happening, you’ve done it. You are no longer a student at your university and soon you’ll be back with your old friends, your mum, your boyfriend, ready to join the real world. Time will tell you if its regret that consumes you rather than the joy of being back in the glamorous, sunny Essex.
The tormenting, horrendously difficult time when you’re in limbo in your own mind. Your head is working against every other part of your body and soul in order to mess you up even more. How to solve it? Be very drunk? Check. Done that. Didn’t fix it. Right. Time to face the music. You want to leave university. Dun dun dunnnnnn. There, you said it. It’s out there, in the ether, floating around all real and stuff. Now do something about it. The people round here, the halls guys, the students, there nice enough, most of them, but are they really decent three years worth of company? No. No way. They’re just.. just not.. just not Essex enough. They don’t get it. The hair, the tan, the banter so sharp it slices through any come back they could even begin to utter. It’s boring. And lonely. Spending your three days off in a row during the week sitting on your bed, staring out your window in complete silence for hours because you’re in such a terrible place in your mind that it’s all your can do to take your thoughts away. Stare out that damn window and hope something interesting might pass you by. It never does, by the way. Seeing not a soul for fourteen hours each day because the only place you’ve been is the halls kitchen and you’ll be lucky if you ever catch the cleaner in there at the same time as you. But you have to stick it out. It’s the most important thing you will do in your life, you tell yourself, you need this. Your boyfriend phones you and you chat to him while he’s on his break, he goes again so you stare back outside. It’s raining. It always rains up north. Essex is the sunniest county in England. I bet it’s not raining in Essex.
The worst thing is knowing that you’ve done so well. ‘Firsts’ on all your essays and exams so far, all that studying. But knowing that the actual physical pain of missing the greatest people in the world back home and not being able to deal with it makes all your success a material thing that would be worth nothing should the sky fall down and all the paper in the world turn to ash. They say some people are just unlucky with there uni’s. Unlucky with the people they have there that year. Unlucky. Story of my life.
Difficult choices. That’s a big part of uni life. All those little decisions that either make your week or break it. Here’s an example; last week, I started my new budget of £20 a week. That’s right. £20. Too many birthdays and too many old friends to buy Christmas presents for in the next couple of months! So. £20. It’s Monday. I’m thirsty. The normal kind of student thirsty; the alcoholic kind. And there it is, the text from the local nightclub promoting the 80p drinks they have on offer tonight. And yep, there’s the second text, from my friend; it’s a short text, capitalised of course, consisting of only a few words: ‘KASBAH. TONIGHT. 8PM. PRE DRINKS AT MINE.’ Ah. That feeling in your stomach. You just ate dinner but are now thoroughly regretting it. ‘I could have drunk instead of eaten tonight, then I would have had food tomorrow. Darn.’ And there’s the choice; yeah, you might only need a tenner to go out with, but then again, you’d have a better night on fifteen or twenty. Pre drinks are good, if you’ve got some already or you know you can nick some from your friends, but if you can’t you have to buy them too. Sigh. So do you go out tonight, spend fifteen pounds, which will surely get you out your face on 80p a drink, or do you reply, ‘Sorry, I can’t. I’m on a budget.’ Needless to say you throw your phone on the bed, jump into your wardrobe and search for your little black dress. It’s drinking time. Who needs food anyway?
Assignment time. So you’re not even a month into uni and they’re already throwing coursework at you from all angles. It’s November, university started late September. One exam done, one to go this month. One coursework to be in for about five day’s time and as usual I’m slacking. To be fair, I have been to the library and somehow carried a horrendous amount of books all the way back to my uni house, taking quotes and such from them in preparation to putting pen to paper. That’s the worst thing about university essays. They reallllly don’t care what you think. Your opinion is thoroughly taboo. It’s all about these other guys who wrote all these fancy books. Just reference after reference after reference. Sigh. But it has to be done. Tomorrow there’ll be another trip to the library me thinks, to attempt to find my way through the maze of books and shelves and hunched over students doing exactly the same as I, shifting the pages and scanning the paragraphs in order to find probably a single sentence in which to use. Just stay on top of things, I keep telling myself. Keep up with the reading as well as actually start your coursework’s. There’s another three things to be in on the twelfth day of December. Horraayyy! I love spending my Friday nights indoors working. Okay, okay, that’s not true. That’s highly improbable in fact. Which is why this tiny 800 word essay is taking so long!! It’s nothing to be fazed about; I’m sure when the time comes to the thousands of words dissertations that are inevitable in uni I’ll be in a hole in the corner doing work instead of drinking on Friday’s. Another sigh. But as every older student I’ve ever met has said after a confession that I may have skipped first lectures this morning and haven’t actually started my essay, ‘Don’t worry, you’re a first year!’ There’s a cryptic message in those words which I can only ponder about.
Ikea. A gigantic maze in which you can’t help but imagine your entire adult life, what you’ll have, where you’ll put it and maybe even who you’ll share it with, all caused by the homely interior displays, the perfect kitchens, the comfiest of computer chairs. Except none of that is for me. The big yellow bag on my shoulder is filled with the goodies I’ll need to survive in halls. Apollo House; a flat shared between 9-13 people, one toilet, one shower, one kitchen. From what I’ve read online, the place is going to be three thousand odd pounds worth of grime and decay, with an evil warden and an even eviler security guard. See this is what you get when you go to university through your insurance choice; you get whatever’s left. It’s the same with clearing, but worse for those poor souls, no one knows what you’ll get through that rickety path. But no matter where it is, if you’re going to be self catered like myself, you’ll need a heavy yellow Ikea bag of goodies. Now this is probably one of the best and least depressing bits about leaving everyone you love behind; the bit where you spend and spend and spend on square blue plates, peculiar shaped glasses for inevitably many a wine you’ll drink and mentally seeing just how amazing your room is going to be, with all that mismatched, multicoloured stuff. Be wary who you take shopping with you however. Taking your mum usually ends in many a practical, colourless object; taking, for instance as I did, your boyfriend (or girlfriend, friend, Nan, etc) and you find yourself at the checkout with a hundred odd pound bill and many a now blue bag of stuff in which you feel rather ashamed of. ‘Did I really need that lime green fluffy round head cushion for fifteen pound?’ Probably not. But it’s done now, and man is your room going to look cool.
Student finance. ‘Quick, easy, do it online!’ That’s what they tell you. ‘Contact us if you have any problems and we’ll sort it straight away!’ I remember it well; sitting in the theatre of our college, listening to the government’s representative standing there, spilling his lies! Okay, filling out your student finance form online isn’t so hard. It’s boring as hell, but not exceedingly difficult. Not if you have your mum sitting next to you informing you of all the current economics of your household as well as what that riddle of a question actually means. It’s almost impossible to fill it out by yourself. We all think it, us students. ‘Yeah, I’ll do it in a bit, it’ll only take half hour!’ No. Foolish students. It takes foreverrrrr. Then it doesn’t save when you tell it to. Then you have to do it again. It’s probably the most underdeveloped, fault filled, constantly error messaging website of the decade. Beware of your student finance. God forbid you have to make any changes to it after you get your results. As you may know, I received my results and found out I was being sent to my insurance choice. That meant a visit to the dreaded finance website. ‘Click here to make changes to your university choice’ it said innocently, making me feel safe and secure in the fact it was going to be so easy to change which university would be receiving my tuition fee money. Twenty attempts later, the same error message was popping up. This was after I’d filled it out twenty times and clicked ‘Continue’. When I say twenty, I’m probably under exaggerating. It was more like forty.
So you need to phone them. They seemed very concerned with aiding me in the process of student finance when we were all in that theatre, listening to the presentation. However, they seemed to miss out one key factor on their directgov website. Where to get the phone number. You can click and click and go here and search there. You won’t find it. Bless Google, that’s all there is to say. Without it you would never have found how to contact them. They don’t want to be contacted, you see. You phone them, you wait, the catchy hold music comes on. Then there’s a voice! Oh. It’s a recorded, and it’s telling you that they’re busy and you should check the website to see if you can make changes online. I’ve tried that it’s broken!!! Is the rage that you give the answer machine. So you wait some more and someone answers, pretends to be helpful, apparently fills out another form for you and it apparently goes through and will show online in ten days. Ten days later. Nothing. Fifteen days later. Still nothing. You phone again. ‘Ohh there’s nothing showing up here! We’ll do it again for you.’ So the other guy, he was just making it up was he? Is one of the many thoughts that fume through your head. So three weeks later, three more phone calls and three days before you go to uni, your student finance is sorted. Cutting it close, but they managed it in the end. Now just to let the drinking money roll in.
So the moment has finally arrived. The air, thick with tension, reeks of students’ horror at having to open the envelope in which all the effort of late night revision, spending summer days hidden in the darkest corner of the library, surrounded by dusty books and worn out pens, will reveal whether it was all for nothing or whether the lack of sleep and stress spots where completely and utterly worth it. … Continue reading