Hometown stereotypes are ruining university for everyone
“So, where are you from?”
In little over a month, hordes of thirsty, horny 18 year olds will descend on well-prepared campuses across the country as freshers week 2015 begins.
To live as a fresher is to find yourself surrounded by newness: new people, new experiences, new trainers after you throw up on the pair you spent 90 quid on during the first shitty club night out.
In this climate, where nothing is certain, where everybody wants to fit in, a scramble for common ground in which friendships can blossom ensues. Rapidly, stupidly, the lowest common denominator is where everyone settles: hometown stereotypes.
The southern – northern divide is always rich talking point and always will be. “Where are you from?” question can be a make or break moment.
Certain regions are stigmatised more than others. If you’re from Cardiff you love sheep. If you’re from Norwich, you’ve been on the Jeremy Kyle Show and you have 6 fingers. Those from Liverpool have a keen interest in car theft.
Having experienced this kind of labelling first hand I want to take a stand.
I’m from Cambridge and every time I say “I’m from Cambridge” a tiresome barrage of cliches is fired at me. Essentially, the overall perception people have of Cambridge is of a town which looks like Hogwarts, where everyone listens to Mumford & Sons and shops at Waitrose.
This common misconception of course arises due to the 800 year old university situated within the city itself. The university, which consistently tops every university league table without breaking a sweat is likely to attract the subspecies of people known as poshos.
By ‘poshos’ I mean those with the most money and the best connections who’ve received the best education and who will most likely sit in the House of Lords as a life peer someday.
I’m not one of these people, a junior Lord Sewell. For the first 16 years of my life our house didn’t have a dishwasher. I didn’t get A*A*A*A*A*A* at A level.
Punting also reaffirms this posh stereotype to outsiders. There are many companies one can choose from to sail down the River Cam in style, taking in the sights and smells of a rich man’s Venice. Again, this is not necessarily a past time of locals. It’s definitely a touristy gimmick designed to pull in the pounds and not a taxi service which allows us to get to Jack Wills quicker than on foot.
So to those who insist on stereotyping those who are from Cambridge but don’t goto Cambridge: Skiing in Vermont is not our favourite holiday destination. We didn’t all vote for another 5 years of the Cambo show.
The reality is people from Cambridge or Liverpool or Norwich aren’t all that different to you at all. We love Mexican Mondays at Weatherspoons, we prefer football to polo and there are no red trousers in our wardrobes.
Maybe caviar tastes better on toast than jam does, and perhaps a pinch of saffron is exactly what a weak soup needs, but we honestly have no idea.
Hometown stereotypes are destroying university and the madness has to end. This fresher’s week try and have a conversation that doesn’t revolve around taking the piss out of each other and nothing else.
Remember: It’s not where you’re from that defines you, it’s what you do that defines you.