Watching friends’ (and complete strangers’) social media feeds with all the goodbyes to their University-bound offspring, is giving me ‘all kinds of feels’.
I have two girls and whilst I am a fair way off that ‘Insta-moment’, I hope that one day they will head off to University to study their respective passions. (Currently no known degrees available in ‘Slime Management.’)
I just can’t imagine them fleeing the nest. What will they eat? Will they clean their rooms? Will they wash their bedlinen properly and use a fabric sheet in the tumble drier?
I have pretty clear recollections of that journey up to Manchester where I was off to study ‘Design & Art Direction’ for three whole years.
I remember the liberating feeling of gathering ‘bits’ for my new Northern life. I saw one friend recently doing the University shop for her triplets – TRIPLETS!!! No wonder the duvet cover selection in Primark was empty. Clean sweep.
My ‘digs’ were called ‘Student Village‘, right in the centre of town.
We were the first group of students living there, so everything was brand-spanking new. Chairs not sat in, toilets not shat in. A pretty good start I’d say, compared to the horror stories of student accommodation that some friends were opting for.
We were ‘the lucky ones’.
Four of us from London were sharing a ‘mini flat’ – you had a front door with a shared bathroom and kitchen, then your own bedroom.
As I nervously navigated my way through the airless corridors, I found my room and was greeted by my friend in room C330, who was just unpacking the last of her stuff in her room – spacious, big, bright.
My room? C331. Dingy, Narrow. Dark. The other two rooms in our flat were pretty decent by comparison, so I had truly got the shit deal.
Can I go home now please?
I honestly couldn’t think of a worse living space to be in and was contemplating leaving for London, with my friend’s dad who was about to head back.
Seeing the disparity in our rooms, and the devastation in my eyes, friend’s dad got to work. It was all very Mission Impossible, but with less dangling from ceilings.
With a handy background in security, he changed the lock cylinder between my poxy box room and room C329, one of the other two vacant rooms. (sigh, let me explain…)
So, basically, my original key still fitted in the lock, yeah? With me so far?
We simply shifted the lock barrel out of my original room (C331) and swapped it over with that of the more preferably room (C329).
Capiche? (Come see me at the end of the blog if still unclear.)
Oh, and we also prized off the door numbers and swapped them over too. If you’re going to do a job, do it properly.
Thinking back, it was proper criminal stuff. I could have got thrown out day one. get me! The student rebel.
I’m not saying I ended up with a south-facing garden and en suite bathroom, but I really loved my new room.
It was glorious, with its basic furnishings and scratchy pube-style, stain resistant carpet. I decorated the shit out of it with every rave poster I could find on the streets of Manchester.
A whole happy year was spent in those halls, which even included a prison style riot. Over what, I can’t actually remember. One day everything just went a bit mad and people were chucking all kinds of shit out of their windows. Chairs, crockery….I think I threw a ream of paper. See? Rebel, I told you earlier.
The scholastic year came and went and the time was right to move out into the suburbs, where all the second years headed to for added ‘independence’. (Read as: smoking weed without a central smoke alarm going off in the building. More about that later…)
I’ve mentioned it before – so I’ll touch on it again – but I lived in a house with a group of 6 girls, our strong bond formed through living out our year spent at student village.
Oh, what a schmutz-hole. But it was our schmutz-hole.
The walls were held up with more blue tack than the entire chain of WHSmiths.
I don’t even remember cleaning the fridge for the entire 2 years I lived there. Let alone mopping the floor.
The basement was more of a damp coal cellar where one housemate would sit at her sewing machine ’til the wee hours, to work on her Textile degree. (And it actually smelled of wee in the basement.)
We were all the same though – one friend had a futon in her room whereby you literally couldn’t see the difference between the edge of her bed and the piles of stuff all over the floor. It was just all ‘one level’.
Another friend would have these mad blitzes every now and then, where she would literally empty her entire room out into the hallway (brilliant for fire safety) and go for a mad clean up.
It wasn’t all disgusting though. There was some level of pride in our student schmutz. One flatmate had a glorious collection of trolls (the original ones, 90s style).
The rest of the room could have been a pigsty, but the trolls were neat and tidy at all times. Until one nasty boy visited and chopped all of the trolls’ hair off. Literally scalped each and every one of them. Conniving sod that he was, he carefully placed each ‘troll toupee’ back on top of their heads, so my friend was none the wiser until the weekly cleaning ceremony, when she went to pick them up by theirbeautiful tufty hair. She was livid.
All this dirt and lack of hygiene is possibly why I am now so anal about my family home and keeping everything neat and tidy. That said, I didn’t turn out too badly having survived on a diet of Pot Noodle. And maybe a bit of actual pot…
Good luck to all those starting University. And try to wash your sheets once a week
P.s. No-one ever found about ‘room swap’. Until the day some of us were in my room and it got a bit smokey…ahem… and the building fire team came up to investigate why my smoke alarm went off. Except they went to my original room, because that smoke alarm was still assigned to room C331.