Everyone you’re going to meet as a Fresher at York
Your comprehensive guide
Congrats, you are at UoY and you can essentially do whatever you want! You could have pop-tarts and dark fruits for dinner, and go to sleep at 6am every night, and spend all your student loan on sex toys or a massive speaker or a parrot, and nobody can stop you! You’re a first year, so you don’t even need to do work! Honestly, unless you do medicine or something: you don’t even need to do work.
That kind of freedom can be dizzying, and impacts on people in certain ways, and whilst at UoY, you are going to meet a wild variety of individuals here, and that can be intimidating for an 18-year-old leaving home for the first time. And so, without further ado, I’m going to run you through everyone you’ll meet at York as a Fresher.
Really Boring Lad Called Tom
A very prominent part of being a Fresher is having extremely dry getting-to-know-you chat with tall emotionless lads called Tom in your kitchen. Tom wears black jeans, Karrimor trainers and a white tee, almost always has a four pack of Carling at pre-drinks and a very normal haircut, so as to blend in, seamlessly, with other Toms.
You may have already met a Tom. Chances are you have. Toms outnumber other students by about 3 to 1. Toms appear, like reeds, in every imaginable scenario: Toms standing awkwardly by the fridge at a house party, Toms talking very seriously to you about Fantasy Football, Toms sitting on the bus on the way to Kuda, Toms sucking the life out of every occasion.
Your natural inclination will be to avoid Toms. But this is a pointless endeavour. Toms will haunt your first year. They will be standing in the kitchen silently eating cereal when you walk in. They will dominate your Facebook feed with memes you’ve seen before. They will be quietly sipping a pint with other Toms the next table over. This is something you just have to take in your stride, because there is a whole world of Toms out there.
Very Artsy English Student
One common feature of someone who takes keen interest in Literature and Art and Rhetoric and Musing on Life is that they usually have three different Instagram accounts: their main one – normally consisting of pictures of sunsets and a Rupi Kaur book next to some coffee and angled mirror selfies with a caption in French or Japanese – followed by an account dedicated to art and doodles, and then another for the Dark Stuff, which they only let 12 people follow.
Wearing John Lennon specs and a beret and a black polo-neck and, for some reason, a silky handkerchief wrapped around their wrist or waist, they will very keenly explain to you why ‘The Outsider’ – actually, they will insist you call it ‘L’Entranger’ – by Albert Camus is the best book ever written, or that David Lynch is a pure genius. They will make you watch ‘Eraserhead’, and your life will never, ever be the same again.
These people stick together; they do not go to Kuda or Salvos. They do not really do pre-drinks as such. They can instead be found, every night, at an open mic of some sort, perhaps at a poetry evening, or maybe quietly reading Alan Ginsberg in the Museum Gardens and then drinking chai tea with almond milk in some avant-garde looking cafe.
Unlike the Toms, you will not see too much of the Very Artsy English Student.
At university, and especially in first year, many people will come to you asking for small favours. “Can I borrow a couple of quid, mate?” they ask. “Do us a cig if you don’t mind”, they suggest casually. “Can I have a key of that stuff? Give us a toke on that!” This is how it starts. This is them slowly sinking their claws in. And then things escalate. “Is it alright if I take some of your cheese for my pasta?” they put forward, stripping you of half a block of cheddar. “Ah, mate, I lost my wallet last night, any chance of lending us £20? I’ll pay you back next Monday!” “Let us borrow your laptop this week, I lost mine in the library… can I have £556,000? Nice one, mate. Cheers. Legend.”
Are you paying attention? Listen: Do not yield to these people! Do not even contemplate it! Do not give them a god damn inch, because if you do they will take full advantage and assume you are just a repository they can take stuff from, and they will slowly suck the life out of you. The weirdest thing: they don’t view their behaviour as abnormal. Back at home they were entitled to everything, took everything, expected everything. And if you are weak willed, they will do the same to you, and they will make you their bitch. If you take one thing from this piece, let it be this: DO NOT LET SCAVENGERS SCAVENGE YOU!
The Overly Normal Flatmate
Somehow this person went from a sweet, innocent child and straight to a really banal, weirdly adult-like imitation of their parents. They seem to be quietly very angry at other 18-year-olds drinking themselves to oblivion and rolling joints while listening to loud music as they, over on the other side of the room, follow mum’s handwritten recipe for spaghetti bolognese to a tee, because apparently that is appropriate university behaviour, and anyone doing anything else is vile.
Wannabe Roadman From the Home Counties
“Yeeeee, Stone Island G!” says Adam, 18, privately educated, from Surrey. “Bruv, listen, yeah, lemme grab a Q yeah, it’s calm, ya dun know!”
Watch out for these guys. Anybody who goes this far and confects an entirely new personality, somehow convincing others they are from Ladbroke Grove rather than Sevenoaks, clearly has something they wish to hide.
The day you move into halls he’s in already in the kitchen doing kicky-ups – £70 polo shirt, Sports Direct jogging bottoms, solid no-nonsense number one on the sides, couple of wallet condoms, a bottle of Nando’s hot sauce and Pot Noodle serving as his only forms of sustenance. “You alright, mate?” he’s saying, and he shakes your hand very firm. The UniLad seems alright, you’re thinking.
Fast forward 12 hours later and your kitchen is riddled with empty Fosters cans. Somehow he’s found 15 lads who match his exact profile. Three of them are called Dean. One of them – let’s call him Deano – has pissed in your favourite bowl, and now he’s being dared to drink it. This is your reality now. He once told you, with total seriousness, that he doesn't feel the need to sleep. “Nah, never really bothered with it, mate,” he says to you, shrugging. “Can’t really understand why people do it so much.” Four weeks later, he’ll give up his degree and get his coaching badges instead.
The Two People In Halls Who You Know Are Going To Fuck, And Then They Do And It Gets Painfully Weird
One of them is in a relationship, so obviously it can’t happen. But of course it can happen, and will. Like a train in a movie speeding forward towards the end of the track and into a yawning chasm, you can see what is about to unfold from miles away.
It starts with a few flirty remarks, a bit of gentle teasing of one another. Then they’re sitting next to each other at pre-drinks, doing that couple thing whereby they fritter away on their own and mainly ignore the group. Now she’s putting her legs over his lap constantly, laughing at everything he says.
Then they do fuck, and the next morning you can tell they have fucked. You can smell it, somehow. You feel the heft of their messy, ill-advised courtship lingering in the air.
One of two things then happens: either they become An Item, spend all of their time in each other’s company at the expense of, well, actually enjoying university, and they almost become invisible – creating a sphere of their own which neither of them can leave and nobody can penetrate – before ultimately breaking up as soon as they graduate because they need ‘space’.
The other thing which can happen is that, on a night out, one of them gets with somebody else, and a massive argument ensues outside the club. The girl goes off crying to be consoled by her friends in some alley. The boy is absolutely fuming, punching shit left right and centre. It’s a complete mess.
Eventually, they will talk, make up, and fuck some more. They are now locked in this toxic cycle for the entirety of first year and there is nothing you can do about it. Their relationship becomes so loaded, so full of demons and baggage and impossible to dissolve, that it pollutes the atmosphere in your flat indefinitely. You just had to fuck on the second night, didn’t you. Pricks.
The one who can't do life
This is you. You will view everyone else having fun with contempt and envy, as if you were peering at them eating a big roast in a lovely warm house from outside the window.
While they are having the genuine time of their lives, you are merely subsisting, your room getting dirtier and dirtier, your diet becoming just kebabs and microwave meals, waking up at 2pm and worrying about your lectures and your health and whether your flatmates like you. Sure, you’ll go out and have big nights with people, but they won’t really be your friends, and you will get secretly angry at yourself for bringing anxiety to these occasions. You are an add-on, floating aimlessly in the buzzing tide of university, pretending you are having the best time ever.