What we’ve learned from our first term at King’s
On the bright side, you’re still alive
December has arrived, and despite costing you thousands of pounds and your sanity, the past three months will probably have taught you a few enduring lessons about student life, and fuck all of any actual use.
Firstly, it’s becoming painfully clear that everyone on your course is more intelligent than you are. Unlike you, when they say they understand Marxist theory, they actually mean it. They aren’t just frauds who sign the occasional petition – they’re best pals with Jeremy Corbyn and spent their gap year building schools in Botswana. To some extent you admire them, but also can’t help loathing the pretentious bastards and feeling ashamed that all you managed was a girl’s holiday to Spain.
Meanwhile, you’ve been scraping by doing the bare minimum, having smugly realised that to be on an English course you don’t in fact have to read any books. Like, at all. I mean, why would you read all 800 pages of ‘Bleak House’ when you could binge watch the box set in one afternoon with several packets of digestives?
You’ve come to the tragic realisation that even after 15 years of formal education, you can’t actually spell. Entire lectures are spent mishearing what the lecturer has said and defensively looking over your shoulder in the hope that the person behind you hasn’t noticed that your mistakes are so bad, even spell-checker has given up. You’re seriously beginning to wonder whether dyslexia is a thing that can develop over time, and if you should go get checked out by a professional.
To add insult to injury, it’s also becoming apparent that nothing you’re learning on your degree is going to be of any use in the real world. That’s unless you’ve actually got your shit together and you’re going to become something meaningful like a dentist. With any luck, the rest of us will get onto a law conversion or PGCE after this bullshit is over. But in reality, we’ll probably all end up swimming in debt, living with our parents and working at Lidl for the rest of our pathetic existence.
Who knows, maybe we’d all be having a more productive experience at uni if the majority of our seminar leaders weren’t basically just teenagers whose main skill is telling us we have an ‘interesting idea’. Half an hour at a time can go by as everyone sits awkwardly in silence, waiting for that one mouthy American girl to just say her point already because everyone knows she’s dying to. (She’s just waiting for the prime moment to trample on the entire group’s already non-existent self esteem.)
However, you can at least be proud that you’ve officially mastered the art of procrastination. You are somehow able to zone out for entire lectures and walk out with nothing but several amusing doodles of the wacky guy talking about Freud. The only real skill you’ve learned this semester is how to think up witty Yik Yaks about your tragic life, and your flat’s idea of a fun Friday night now involves trying to throw mouldy vegetables in the bin.
Days are wasted attempting to choose between basic human needs – hygiene or bed? Toilet or bed? Food or bed? The struggle is so real. You never thought student life would turn out this way, it just happened.
Money has become an illusion. Somehow, despite living in an absolute shit hole, only ever eating from one of the main food groups, and practically becoming teetotal, you’re still broke. After pushing the limits of your overdraft, you’ve learned to survive on literally no money for days at a time, walking absolutely everywhere within a 5 mile radius to cut down on transport costs. Food that shouldn’t be a meal becomes a meal. The last Jaffa Cake and a Babybel? That’ll keep you going for a good 24 hours.
To top it all off, something people never prepare you for is how nice you have to be to people at uni. This proves incredibly difficult when you’ve spent the last 10 years of your life ripping the shit out of your best friends from home.
For the last three months you’ve been all smiles and compliments, but living with seven other 18/19 year olds is becoming a real challenge. They’re lovely, you have a good repartee, but they’re animals. There’s pasta in the plug hole, there’s congealed fat forming a pool around the George Foreman. Miraculously, you haven’t caught salmonella from the kitchen yet, but you know it’s only a matter of time. Some of your flat mates can’t cook for shit, and if they’ve tried and failed you are strongly willing them never to do so again, for everyone’s sake.
Your weirdness is starting to come out in off hand remarks and half-jokey insults. You’ve been leaving passive aggressive post-it notes around the flat and on the group chat. And for the club promoter who shoves a billion flyers under your door every day. And for the maintenance man…
The other day you completely flipped out when one of your flatmates asked if they could borrow your black pepper YET AGAIN. Even though you might love all the people you’ve met, your darker, misanthropic side means you look forward to the time you can spend alone – it’s got to the point where 15 minutes of silence on the bus or crying in the shower is sometimes the highlight of the day.
In some ways it’s been great. You’ve survived your first term and certainly have a lot of stories to tell, but let’s be honest: Christmas couldn’t come sooner.