I came to the realisation the other day that I can now be classed as in my “early 20s”. Goodness, that just seems so grown up sounding, though I have found the 6 months so far of my 20s to be far, far better than much of my teenage years (in fact count most of being 19 into that too).
If you’ve read my about me (which you should, it took me a while) you will have worked out that I am a geography student at Brighton Uni, which is also known by some of my friends’ parents as “the poly”. It’s a post-1992 university, which apparently automatically excludes a university from the top 40 in the league tables. However, I didn’t come here because of it’s ranking (currently about 70th), I came here because I fell in love with Brighton and wasn’t going to get the grades for Sussex. I know for a fact I am not the only person to be here for that reason.
When I started uni as a bright eyed, slightly naive 18 year old I expected it to be almost exactly how my freshers week was: lots of alcohol, a constant, lingering weedy smell and lots of things which I really should regret but have put down to experience. Post freshers week things didn’t really calm down for a while, I was having the time of my life but was also a bit over-whelmed, I remember a particular occasion when my flatmates were going out and for some reason I burst into tears and stayed in, odd.
I went clubbing a lot in first year, something I just don’t seem to do any more. I’ve kind of grown tired of boring music played so loud you can’t hear yourself think, the cheap and nasty alcohol you have to drink to enjoy yourself, the nasty, sticky floors (and that carpet in digital). There are occasions when I’ve gone clubbing and loved it, when I went to the Krazyhouse in Liverpool for example, or when I saw Mr. Scruff at Digital, or the electro-swing nights I used to go to, but clubbing for the sake of clubbing? It’s just not for me any more.
So first year kind of shambled along I did a little work, got a really shit long distance boyfriend, drank copious amounts of vodka and finally decided I was bored of sitting roun watching people smoking weed, something my flatmates were not really supportive of.
Second year was like all the quiet parts of first year rolled together for the first part, I even managed to disgrace myself in Lancaster for a second time. But then it was the end of November and my uni went into occupation, and so did I…
The Occupation was pretty life-affirming for me. I’d always been left wing and a bit angry but in first year I’d made much of an effort to be “normal”, whatever that is, and abandoned my political views somewhat. In the November of second year I was bedreadlocked and angry about the proposed tuition fee rises, and suddenly I was so much happier, I was the person I’d been hiding from in first year and it felt so right. Of course the occupation helped in many ways by introducing me to fantastic, critically minded people who went to MY uni, many of whom have become probably the best friends I’ve ever had. The second half of second year was a blur of political meetings and direct actions and climate camp at Lewes and running around barefoot learning to be a rebel clown. Awesome.
Unfortunately, with great life changes come sacrifices. My housemates got fed up with me, with the mess they perceived me to leave and for one of them, my political views. So suddenly I was facing the prospect of being homeless in third year. I’m now sitting in the house I ended up in, my housemates are great in that we all keep ourselves to ourselves, I have a decent sized room and I’m opposite uni. It’s not perfect but it does the job.
So third year, this year, final year. Scary. So far this year I have been busy with assignments and have had to devote a little bit less of my time to politics, and there’s a boy in the equation too. But this year my friendships with those I met at the occupation last year and at the slightly disastrous occupation this year have strengthened to the point where I actually feel like I have a group of friends I really fit in with. We go to the pub, we talk about politics and feminism and de-genderisation and sexuality and all this fascinating stuff. My uni life is suddenly a little bit like Brian in Starter for Ten expected his to be (although I didn’t get onto the Uni Challenge team, despite my flawless pub quiz record).
I’m president of the feminist society (for admin purposes really but I do seem to do all the organising), I’m on the SocFed steering committee. Come March I’ll be standing for election to the Student Union, something I never, ever would have dreamed I’d be doing 2 years ago. But most importantly, I’m me, and I’m happy and I’m making a life for myself away from the awful family stuff which I’ve neglected to mention. I still have no idea what I’ll be doing come June, although I have an ambition, but I have a sneaking suspicion I’ll be sticking around Brighton for a little while if I don’t get an environmental health job.
I guess what I really wanted to say with this is that student life changes, it evolves and even if you think you hate it, look at the friends you’re keeping, the societies your in. Don’t be afraid to be yourself, cos you’ll never be truly happy if you aren’t.