How to fit in as a Southerner at a Northern uni
Everyone’s from NW11, be like them
Like half the moderately smart uni-age population of the UK, you arrived at a nice northern uni – Manchester, Leeds, Nottingham, or something – during Freshers' and realised that you needed to fit in with the rest of your housemates.
They all seemed to dress the same, come from the same postcode in the South, talk the same, and take the same things. You needed to fit in to make sure people didn't find out you come from a tiny village town, like Walsall or Mansfield.
Count yourself lucky, we've made a list of things you need to do to fit in as a Southerner at a Northern uni:
Come from the South, probably London
Everyone is from London, or definitely in the South. Finchley, Islington, Croydon, Bromley, Hampstead, Harrow, Kingston – you name it. And everyone who's not from London is from the surrounding home counties bordering the city. If you can't convincingly name a London borough, then play the Guildford card and start yah-yah-ing about how loose MNG was back in the day.
I don't know why and I can't tell you why but there is an apparent deep rooted fascination with Southerners migrating towards the North in the pursuit of higher education.
It may be the quality of air, the price of booze, the women, the takeaway places that's attracted these Londoners in the thousands, but there's one thing that we can be sure…is that everyone is from London.
Admit your precarious drug/alcohol addiction
University is a time for experimentation and exploration of new things, drugs and alcohol being one of them. You never were an experimenter, a drinker or a druggie in sixth form, but all has changed with the promise of cheaper booze and drugs up North.
Come Freshers' you'll be exploring all types of smoking and sniffing, as well as binge drinking every night 'because you have to go to Pryzm, the SU, and whatever event is on Friday' this week. Drinking will get boring at some point, so drugs are simply another pathway to de-stress and let loose on your nights out.
Wear a puffa jacket everywhere
To keep up with the social politics of fitting in on campus, you must be wearing a puffa, if not all the time, most of the time to lectures and to the library. It's normally THAT classic puffa jacket that you'll find everywhere in halls, the smoking bit outside the library, and the queue at big Tesco.
If it's not the £70+ price tag that doesn't entice you enough, even wearing a puffa jacket on campus can prove seminal to your inclusion into being popular and fitting in. Slap on a pair of loose fitting jeans, a Tommy Hilfigger tee, and it is one of the easiest ways to fake it as a Southerner at a Northern uni.
Wear your old school leavers' hoodie everywhere, despite hating half the people listed on it
Despite leaving school some two, three years ago, you still must harbour an attachment to the good old days where seminars weren't a thing; wearing your old sixth form hoodie holds pride and represents maturity. It may look crummy and out of place but it offers countless outfit ideas for many who've just woken up and need to dash to lectures in 10.
A hoodie with the number 17 – with at least a hundred names on the back – paired with literally anything is a fire fit you can rock among the library shelves, during a fire drill, or hungover to a seminar.
Study Politics or Economics, something popular yet simple
By the grace of the law of averages, everyone does a middle of the road, popular degree. One which they've studied in A Levels and found the least boring to continue on for uni. Politics and Economics are the hard hitters for BNOC territory; whilst they're relatively low maintenance compared to Biochem, Engineering, and Medicine, you do get major plus points for being instantly employable in three years time without the stress of taking a 'hard' degree.
Only wear second hand clothes at retail prices from Depop
Ditch the Primark and Jack Wills. This is uni now, and you have to look the part. Despite your middle-class background, you need to dress as urban as possible. Flailing black trousers, dirty white Reeboks, oversized white t-shirts. Courtesy of a special app called Depop, you can haul some of the best brand names in clothing – Nike, Adidas, Tommy Hilfiger, Ralph Lauren, and classics like Reebok, North Face, Levis, and Kappa.
No one will talk to you if you don't have a Tommy logo littered around your outfit. For example: an example outfit may be muddied white Reebook flats, white socks, rolled up black jeans, a white tee, and either a Tommy or a North Face puffer. The puffier, the better.
Say 'safe' and 'calm' whenever you can
Going to a lovely private school in Hertfordshire or Surrey and living in a middle class suburb didn't help your roadman persona, but if you act and speak like one at uni maybe people will think you're a 'safe' lad.
Drop words like 'safe' when someone passes you a Rizla at 3am in the smoking area, 'calm' when someone gives you the time, or 'endz' when your describing your lovely home in St. Albans. Speak like someone from the ends, not in the Queen's tongue.
Harbour a love/hate relationship with the library facilities on campus
The contentious debate of the shitty but sociable library where all the Humanities students go, or the actually nice but dead Science library, has been fuelled by your complete inability to find a seat in either library. Both, realistically, offer little comfort and compassion to getting work done in either: the temperature is a tiny bit off on the first floor of Science one, but every single seat is taken in the other, food selection is poor, bathrooms always closed. The list continues.
But as you arrive at 9am, with your meal deal in your bag, walking through the large doors, in the aim of writing 100 words the whole day, you start to realise that these libraries become second homes. The staff are welcoming, its warm inside, you can sit on cushioned seats – it's nice.
Join a BUCS team and get trollied at a sports social
Whether or not you're any good at playing a team sport, or against other people for that matter, joining a BUCS sports teams present itself with a myriad of opportunities. The chance to travel the country up and down in competition against rival university teams, meet semi-proffesional student players, and to get absolutely shit faced at a social.
Even if your initiation into the rugby fourth team wasn't enough – butt-naked, covered in eggs and flour, downing pints of Tesco's Value voddy – socials offer a more relaxing occasion to socialise with your teammates. Switch hazing for blue shirts and ties, and drink to your hearts content with people who you hate.
Take an edgy photo of yourself on your first big cool night out to a former industrial facility
You like Bassline and House now, not Top 40s. You need a picture right in front of a cool graphic in a hip bar or club in a trendy fit you pulled together:
Appreciate the nuances of travelling from the South to uni, undoubtedly gentrifying the North
The little towns and cities where once resided nice, quaint Northern dwellings, filled with local shops, restaurants, and BnBs, have now become liberal, Remaining, Southern bubbles for Londoners to run rampant about – Notts isn't an exception. Surrounding the borders of University Park campus situates an exclave with its own Greater London postcode; its people are Southern, its cultures are Southern, and the food is somewhat Southern.
Nottingham is a little playground for the middle classed Londoners who travel up during term time to have fun before returning for Christmas and Easter to terraced houses and cottages. You recognise this social pandemic and act not to care, because, well you're from the South and it doesn't bug you.
Go to sports night with your mates and have a bloody good time
Getting lairy with a VK or seven on a Wednesday is a noble tradition for any Northern uni. Weekly attendance is key to fit in and become one with the BNOCs of the university. The Wednesday club night is seen more as an elite social group rather than a normal night out. Those who can snatch tickets or get in with a social are lucky enough to grace the SU's entrance and enjoy the night, those who can't are demoted to sitting in their rooms alone watching everyone else have fun.
Defend your uni at any cost to your home town friends
However much you get slated in your home-town boys group chat for going to a 'boring university', you can't help but feel lucky for going to a lovely institution. Despite your weird background, everyone you meet on campus, in halls, in clubs all seem to be like you, an edgy Southerner in the North. You're smarter than Trent, wittier than Warwick, and edgier than Oxbridge – be proud.