What you’ve learnt from your first semester at Manchester
Always buy tickets
You’ve finally reached the end of your first term in Manc, and what a few months it’s been.
You probably arrived in September all keen and innocent, eager to throw yourself into the enlightening world of degree education. But the reality is, uni life in Manc has taught you a lot more than you ever anticipated.
Firstly, it isn’t cool to look rich here. Despite what was drilled into you at boarding school it just isn’t cool to wear expensive clothes to show off how much money your parents make. The general Fallowfield rule is – the richer you are, the more you should try to hide it. It turns out the more you look like a homeless man, the better. A few weeks into semester one and you’ve already chucked your Jack Wills gilet in the Oak House bins and you’re hoping no one will ever know you owned it.
A month down the line and you’ve blown your whole loan in Afflecks palace on clothes you could’ve bought in a charity shop. But at least you now fit in seamlessly in Fallowfield. It’s okay to be rich, just make sure you spend your money wisely on things like two for £6 NZ wines.
You’ll come to terms with the fact that just because Manchester is up north, that doesn’t mean it’s cheap. It’s actually really expensive. This is before you realised that Manc is, in every way, just the London of the North. Northern Quarter prices would rival those of Brick Lane and you now spend £10 a ticket to get fucked in a legitimate shithole every weekend. And make sure you book a ticket in advance, or you won’t be getting in.
Your student loan didn’t see the end of the first month and you’re going to be living on rations for the last few weeks in order to pay for nights out. No one ever told us that £2000 wasn’t actually much money.
Also, you don’t actually need to attend uni. For the first month you gave it your best shot, but then you realised even the lecturers don’t care if you don’t turn up. You probably haven’t moved from your bed before 10am for a solid few weeks and you can’t even remember what your timetable looks like. The phrase “it’s only first year” will be circulated a lot to reassure each other that everyone is doing equally shit.
Another thing you’ve learnt is that you’re actually pretty disgusting. Before university you thought you’d be the housemate that “just can’t stand the mess” and cleans the kitchen every other day out of pure disgust. You were wrong. Nowadays you’re more than happy to eat your dinner out a semi-clean frying pan provided that you don’t have to wash it up. Your personal hygiene has also become mediocre at best, as the decision between shower and an extra 20 minutes in bed has already been made by the time you wake up.
You’ll also have learnt that everyone on your course is smarter than you. This one was hard to take. At school you were the golden child, talented prospective uni student that chose Manchester over Oxford out of principle. You arrive at uni and it turns out everyone else actually knows that they’re talking about. They actually read all the books on their personal statement and watch live political debates for pleasure.
You soon learn to keep your mouth shut in seminars out of fear that your idea will be shot down yet again by the guy whom one can only assume is Shakespeare’s only living descendant himself. If you’re at all smart you will have befriended at least one of these characters to leech ideas off during exam period.
It’s hard work being nice all the time. For the first few months you surprised even yourself with how bright-eyed, bushy tailed and generally friendly you were towards your housemates, even in the mornings. You didn’t mind if they were taking ages to get ready or forgot something and had to go back, because it happen’s to everyone right?
But as time goes on you’ve realised although your housemates are lovely people, they are kinda getting a bit annoying. They leave hair on the shower walls and pasta in the plughole. After 10 years of ripping the shit out of your friends at home you can’t help but look forward to returning to the hostility of the home counties at Christmas.
By day one you’ll have learnt that in Manchester it always rains. It’s rarer to have a day when it’s not raining. Okay, people warned us of this before, but we didn’t actually believe them. It doesn’t matter if it’s a Saharan heatwave when you leave in the morning, it will be raining when you want to walk home. It will rain, you will get wet, you will smell like wet dog all day.
Finally, you’ll learn that a bus pass is an essential piece of kit for any Manchester student. You cannot believe the phenomenon that is the Magic bus. You’ve never waited longer than five minutes for a bus and it must have saved you millions in taxi fares. God bless the magic bus.