What I learnt in my first year at Manchester Uni

The trials and tribulations of an Oak House fresher

I have always greeted happiness with the scepticism it deserves. Ever since I watched Ed Miliband resign it has been apparent to me that everything good must reach a painful end. Never have I felt it quite so realised than leaving first year in Manchester and returning to the city of angels where my being was forged, Nottingham.

It's taking a while to adjust to the huge change in lifestyle being back home has presented me with after spending only 10 months at university. Here are some of the most significant changes in lifestyle I have experienced so far.

Health

I have persistently claimed a small part of me died during Freshers' Week. I have now discovered it was in fact my metabolism. One of the few benefits of being home is that it gives you a chance to allow your body to recover from the kilograms of Turkiss and Chester’s ingested over the previous months.

A further joy is opening your fridge with the comfort of knowing you are entitled to the entirety of its contents. No longer will you awake to a passive aggressive message in the group chat about who ate your flatmate’s hummus or Linda McCartney vegetarian pie.

Fashion

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“We are all in the gutter, but some of us are looking at the stars.”

Every waking second a beret or pair of air force is not in my peripheral vision I feel my current sense of homesickness multiply. The most aesthetically ‘fallow’ group of people I have seen is my local rotary club hosting a raffle. Unapologetically adorned in knitted jumpers, fleeces and flared trousers it is just like being in the beer garden of 256. They even demonstrated a painfully similar tendency to brag about the cocktail of drugs they have been taking, the greatest difference merely being that they have been dropping Imodium, insulin and statins.

Another trend endemic to university is the left leaning views it seems everyone clings onto. Although this is in alignment with my beliefs prior to uni, I am no longer used to being challenged. Now I actually have to go through the ordeal of educating myself on social and political issues when in discourse. I can no longer feebly chant "Oh, Jeremy Corbyn" to suffocate suggestions of his economic naivety using an irresistible hook, the way politics should be dealt with.

Friends

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Behold an unflinching portrayal of uni lad culture. If you look hard enough you can start to hear Champagne Supernova.

Another figurative hurdle one must confront is proving to your friends from home you’re still the same person despite the fact you’re now vegetarian, two stone heavier and only listen to Darkzy.

This time last year I voluntarily dedicated a week solely to reading every Kurt Vonnegut book. Recently I posted 'Pub?' in the group chat. It is evident things have drastically changed. Since uni many of my friends have remarked “it’s to see you out of your shell” to me (only hours later trying to coerce me back into my shell with lime soda, brown sugar and pepper spray).

In Oak House, the only thing separating me and my nearest friend at uni was but a chink in the wall, which I’m starting to think was a glory hole. A night out would tend to be the natural progression of a normal day but at home you must confront the ordeal of planning and organisation. Furthermore, many of my friends at home now have full time jobs, are travelling or under investigation by HMRC making socialising so much more adverse than it ever was at uni.

Existential angst

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Terror inducing questions like "where will my degree get me?", "will I ever get out of this debt?" and "what are days for?" are very easy to escape through a combination of human interaction, echo falls and bassline. I grieve for the absence of these things, or at least the absence of acceptance and the presence of your family, who can’t help but cast a judgemental gaze as you strawpedo a bottle of wine at your uncle’s custody hearing.

Any reminder of uni opens up an emotional floodgate for me. After hearing Mackey G’s magnum opus Black Widow yesterday I quietly wept in the toilets. A newfound sense of boredom now permeates everyday life. The most exciting thing to have happened to me since being home is politely choking on the savoury sheath of a Peperami whilst watching Deadpool 2 and that was because depriving my brain of oxygen provided a momentary flashback to life at uni.

The biggest loss I feel is that of the perpetual threat of opportunity and potential. At uni there is always the chance for something to happen. Being surrounded by people of a similar age and agenda interactions are so much easier. On a weekly basis it’s likely you will meet scores of your friend’s friends and engage in only slightly uncomfortable conversation as you nibble on the rim of your pint. Perhaps you will find the one? It's unlikely but still a possibility you can constantly entertain whereas at home the closest I have come is maintaining eye contact with a cashier as I insert my card into their card machine.

Alas, the worst thing is I am now living in a so-called reality, one that awaits me in two years' time. The impermanence of uni is what inspires most fear inside my lifeless body. The saying you must kill time before it kills you springs to mind. Thus, I am now going to put an egg in the freezer to see what happens and listen to How to Disappear Completely until September comes.

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