If they made a Hollywood movie of my first experience of university, the cheesy-yet-catchy tagline would read “he fell out of love with his course... but fell in love with his city”.
The movie would have a split time-line, showing flashbacks of me aged 18 and the mishaps and adventures of the next four years, balanced with an older, wiser me pontificating on the pros and cons of the whole experience, and apparently seeming all the more life-chiselled for it.
The film would open with a voiceover where I express the top three things every student should learn at university; firstly, no two degrees are ever the same.
Secondly, if a goldfish appears in your room in student halls, don’t ask questions. Just go with it.
And thirdly: university is a brilliant leveller of people – from both sides of the social and cultural spectrum. That is, if you go in with an open mind and relish the chance to meet (genuinely) 100s, perhaps even 1,000s of new human beings.
Some of these beings you might never have come across (I know people who have never left the borough I grew up in, some even the town I grew up in).
The first three people I met at my university, two who became lifelong friends, consisted of two students from state-schools, and one student from a very high-profile independent school. Complete opposite ends of the educational spectrum, so society tells us.
All four of us were from different types of schools, from different areas of the country, with different reasons for choosing university at some point after leaving school – one of us had had not one gap year, but two.
All four of us came saddled with different stories of university we’d inherited from our elders, some who had been themselves, some who hadn’t, and some who not only hadn’t but had also gawked at the idea of choosing to study after 18, let alone a degree.
During our ‘freshers’ week of form-filling, event-attending, society-stall gazing, campus map confusion and the odd cheap pint, we bonded, even with one of us not ‘drinking’ due to his religious beliefs.
We did a lot together, but one thing we never did was discuss the names of our schools and what type of school it was.
Perhaps other students do, and I’m not saying it doesn’t happen, but I can only speak from personal experience: our educational background just wasn’t something that got questioned, let alone something that could divide social groups at university.
In my opinion, if you’re someone who chooses university, you're already an open-minded individual who's willing to mingle with every type of person under the sun. And know you’ll be better for it.
Some people might say it is different in some dark corners of Durham or Oxford, but I really don’t believe so.
University's about how much you choose to open your eyes.
- Moj Taylor, Push speaker.
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