Students from the South are SO annoying
Birmingham is not in the ‘North’, alright?
As a Birmingham native, I relish the occasion that I recognise a familiar Brummie accent waft past me in a lecture or seminar. Sadly despite my geographical location, most of the time it’s Chloe from Surrey nattering about her equestrian society who is buzzing in my ear instead.
I don’t judge people based on their backgrounds and accents. However, I cannot deny that there are prevalent, and very annoying trends amidst students who come from the South of England to attend the University of Birmingham.
The fact that our campus, on the edge of the UK’s second most populous city even has an equestrian society was something that made me spit out my tuna cob in a mixture of shock and laughter.
But posh societies aren’t the half of it.
I’d like to believe that every student who comes here is not the spoiled son of a banker who grew up attending county fairs in his childhood- I really would. I have met a handful of ordinary, working class Southern students here (though they tend to come from London, not “the South” as it strictly stands). In my experience, however, poor students from the South are either less vocal or less common.
I’d be lying if I said that most of the Southerners I’ve encountered weren’t privately educated, don’t own ponies and have names to the tune of “Harriet” and “Clarissa”.
But like I said, I really do look beyond people’s privilege.
Yet there is an undeniable air of arrogance that comes along with the archetypal Southy. The arrogance seems to not necessarily stem from wealth but the position of a hometown on the map.
This North-South divide becomes especially pervasive at University, as students from across the country, and some from around the world, accumulate. Amongst this diverse demographic, many Southern students enjoy flaunting their superiority in opportunity and background. Enrolling at Birmingham is something of an Alpine exhibition for these people, a voyage into far into the dark depths of “Northern” England, still blighted by de-industrialisation.
So the “North” is a no-mans-land because you’ve never ventured further than the Watford Gap? Birmingham is as foreign as that uber-amazing “gap yah” taken in South East Asia.
To top it all off, and I do hate to be a party-pooper, Birmingham isn’t even “the North”. Yes, it may be as Northern as you have travelled, but the Midlands has its own, distinct identity too. Admittedly, I’m not offended about this error in judgement; I have had many a good time in Manchester and Leeds. Many aspects of Northern England are even arguably better than what we do here in the Midlands. But please for the love of God, stop making out you’ve had the Northern experience if you haven’t even sampled chips and gravy or still use a cloakroom on a night out.
“The North” from a non-Northerner is a loaded term that brings with it prejudices that epitomise this North-South divide. Here, Southerners envisage Birmingham as some sort of crime-ridden hell hole. They want to go to University here to “rough it up” and live an authentic student life. To cast of the shackles of mummy and daddy back home in Guildford.
Please refrain from spouting such vocal attitudes that continually undermine Birmingham’s ever-improving attractions. While our cities reputation ceases to affect you when you hop back to the capital after graduation, it damages its cred for all of us that actually love it here.
These students will never experience the grittier side of Birmingham anyway. Daniel and his “banter brigade”, whose Brummie experience consists of Roosters and making the lives of Selly residents difficult, will never go within a barge pole’s distance of an area like Handsworth, where crime may actually be a problem. They pretend to participate in a culture without ever having visited, or lived in it. No attempts are made to integrate into the local community. Students get trapped in the university bubble and are unlikely to step out of it.
After all this, some Southerners then spend the next three years of Uni moaning about how Birmingham isn’t as good as the South. But if you go to Fab every Saturday night, obviously your Birmingham experience is probably shite.
Get out and explore the city for what it is- try out Digbeth, Kings Heath, Harborne. It’s your home for the next three years, and you’ll enjoy living here much more when you leave your Southern entitlement behind and get stuck in.
I will apologise in advance to any Southerners I have offended by this. Hailing from Surrey or not, it would be impossible to type-cast everyone under one bracket. Some of you are probably lovely and our University welcomes students from all backgrounds and geographical locations. My concern arises from the dominance of a middle class, southern demographic and the mindless damning judgements they make of their counterpart’s home customs and lingo.
I worry that the voices and experiences of local, and/or poorer students are not given priority but are becoming drowned out. Let’s get on with appreciating Birmingham’s culture before the University of Birmingham becomes a Southern microcosm, a little “Royal Tunbridge Wells”.