What Freshers’ Week is like when you’re deaf

It’s harder than it sounds

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Freshers’ Week at university is meant to be one of the most exciting experiences anyone can have. It’s the only week where it’s acceptable to drink your own weight in alcohol and eat copious amounts of  Salt and Pepper, Oki’s and Efe’s. And of course, let’s not forget the all-important first time at Willow (#RIP). But imagine what freshers’ week is like when you’re deaf – like me.

I’ve been deaf since birth, but after many years of trial and error on what works best, I now have two cochlear implants. These are devices which enable to hear much better than ever before, but this doesn’t mean that my hearing is anywhere near as good as anybody who isn’t deaf. Freshers’ Week could be thought as many deaf people’s ideas of a nightmare.

With me, however, this wasn’t the case. I’ve always loved going out and meeting new people, but this doesn’t mean that there aren’t some interesting additions to a typical night out for me.

A classic example of a fresher event is a crawl of the finest bars and clubs where you can drink, chat and, of course, dance your heart out. Well there’s no greater feeling for me when I actually know the song that’s on. Usually I just have to just go with the flow and dance to the beat – ironically I’m often the only one in time.

I guessed it wrong

But in reality, I haven’t got the slightest clue what’s playing.

After a bit of dancing and drinks flowing, there’s usually an opportunity to scout the talent. But when a guy chats me up, it’s a lost cause. To make them feel better I’ll nod along, but I actually can’t hear shit. In fact, it’s almost become a game where I win a point if I guess the right reaction to make.

Becomes rather awkward when I get it wrong, though.

To end the night on a high, getting takeout is a must. Becomes rather problematic when I can’t hear over the telephone or they don’t speak clearly. Again, it’s a guessing game, but I can vouch that York vendors have more experience than most in being coherent.

All I wanted was some cheesy chips

While most freshers get to experience the joys of a head-splitting fire alarm the next day, mine comes with a vibrating effect.

Now this isn’t quite Good Vibrations

My first encounter with my personalised fire alarm, courtesy of the University’s services, left me rather confused. I woke up thinking I was in the middle of an earthquake rather than the standard college test. Although they had told me that the safety feature would make my bed vibrate, I wasn’t quite prepared for that. It’s safe to say that I would have been a goner if our “fire” had been real.

Despite my Freshers’ Week being different to most, I still had a fun time. And to any guys that I may have accidentally rejected, I’m sorry for my inappropriate reactions – you just have to speak clearly next time.