York’s new Agony Uncle answers your burning questions

Help me to help you

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You’ve survived the first term at university and now you’re looking for anything to distract you from the monotony of exam revision and the crushing realisation that your housemates won’t have become less annoying over the Christmas break.

As we reach the start of a new term and calendar year, it is likely your personal lives are awash with problems: you still hate your housemate for sleeping with that guy you fancied in fresher’s week, you can’t find a way to ditch that annoying friend in order to land your dream second year house and you’ve run your overdraft so dry that beans and a thrice-used tea bag is all that you can afford for breakfast, lunch and dinner.

But never fear, Uncle Sam is here with a brand new agony uncle column. Gone are the days of “agony” columns where dusty old women and greasy teenagers would write in about their trivial difficulties. This is the dawn of a new age in advice-giving. No problem is too big for me, no issue too spectacular, and no subject too spicy. Your questions have been flooding in over the last few weeks. Let’s begin.

I just want to help

David, male, 1st year – My flat mates never do their washing up. It’s got to the stage now where I am genuinely considering switching accommodation. What do I do?

Don’t be despondent about your flatmates David, for like Goliath they too can be slain. Of course, I mean slain in a metaphorical sense, for you must slay them with sarcasm and guilt rather than stones. You are not alone in this either. Aside from the sounds of grim and regretful sexual encounters, messy flat mates rank as one of the most common problems that university students face.

There are few ways you can approach this Dave (David was too formal, I’m helping you after all). Most likely the best way would be for you to get a grip. The effort of moving accommodation is much greater than the negative impact of other people’s dirty crockery in a shared kitchen. Whilst yes you may struggle to find the space for an aesthetically pleasing Instagram post of what we can assume was some kind of ready meal based dinner, but is it really worth leaving? You’d be better to continue as is, in the silent smugness of knowing that you’re a much better person than the animals you live with. Let them fester in the squalor that is a perpetually dirty kitchen whilst you master the art of passive aggressive reminders on the group chat and sub 15-minute meal cook times to minimise your exposure to the mess.

But if it all gets too much for you, there is always Deliveroo.

Anon, female, 2nd year – I’m struggling with motivation for my exams and just university in general. What should I do?

This is quite a simple one really, you just have to want to get it done. For most people, university is not the be all and end all of their existence, academically it is a means to an end to secure a graduate role and move on. No one likes exams, and no one wants to do them. Yes, there will be a few people in your lectures who have probably spent the last year and a bit asking questions and tonguing the lecturer’s derrière, but for the most part you’re not alone.

For motivation I tend to turn to YouTube. Vast websites of videos are only ever a good thing, be it PornHub or Youtube, and so you know you’re in safe hands here. There are many videos which can inspire and motivate, but I think it best to stick to Eric Thomas, Les Brown or Tony Robbins. Three great motivators. Incorporate one of these into your daily routine.

Get up early. It doesn’t have to be 5am or 6am, but if you’re up before the rest of your house then that is very satisfying and a great motivator. Down a pint of water and make some coffee or some tea. Do a bit of exercise, even if it’s just a walk outside. Eat breakfast. Shower. Set yourself up. Take care of yourself and you’ll never have felt so alive.

Use your lecturers. Talking to intelligent people about a subject they’re passionate about is very motivating. And they want to help you. They’d probably rather help you than Question McBumLick because they’ll see you’re taking things seriously.

And most importantly, imagine yourself at the end of uni: mortar board in hand, glowing with the warmth of celebratory champagne and layers of polyester graduation robes. You’ve got the 2:1, you’ve secured the graduate role, and you’re about to spend the rest of your life as a slave to the tax man, a proper adult. What could be more motivating than that?

Believe. Dream. Achieve. Then believe again. That’s the Uncle Sam promise.

Sammy, male, 3rd year – I’ve yet to fully understand the cultural significance and indeed the general hype of a Brown’s sandwich. Have I missed the boat? All I want to do is fit in with my peers.

I’m quite sure you’re not alone in not getting the hype. For many, Brown’s is a word they hear in conversation and smile and agree and nod along without knowing why. If you’re from Hes East, Wentworth, or even perhaps an unadventurous Halifax student, you will likely never have ventured even near the institution that is Brown’s. Instead, you satiate your hunger with a packed lunch, a delightful baguette from a Costa outlet, or if you’re really desperate one of those atrocious meal deals from YUSU Shop. But you’re missing the point.

It doesn’t matter that Brown’s is nestled in Heslington village and therefore logistically makes no sense given the range of food options available on campus. It doesn’t matter that price wise they cannot compete with on-campus and even supermarket alternatives. What matters is that Brown’s is an institution, and like house music and using the urinal, you must do it anyway, regardless of the fact that it makes no sense and you don’t want to. Plus, I hear they do a lovely Chicken Mayo.


If you would like your questions answered, there is none I will not take on. Email Uncle Sam at [email protected] for a discrete and unhelpful service.