A university challenge: Why it’s worth more that the paper it’s written on


Starting University brings many things. Mostly, these things are cutlery or crockery shaped and donated by various family members. Your Nan will suddenly feel it is only her duty to provide you with an assortment of tins (ham, standard) and enough soap to keep you in stock, as if Lancaster must become the victim of a nuclear war. But just as starting University can supply you with all the wooden spoons in the world, it also provides you with important life skills. Gone is the luxury of dependence. Instead, welcome yourself to a world where washing never dries (County Laundrette, I’m looking at you) and meals are provided by that classy food establishment: Greggs.

Of course, whilst you are flying the proverbial nest, your parents are dealing with life without their favourite son/daughter. Well, that and probably booking their next holiday to Tenerife, but perhaps that is just me. Whilst your mum might need the hanky on arrivals day and fuss about making sure you get the best draw in the freezer, they, like you, will soon adapt. Come Christmas, your parents will be the ones dancing on the ceiling Lionel Richie style in unadulterated freedom and by the time you return, your childhood room will have been converted into a swanky cocktail bar.

I learnt a good few valuable life lessons as a fresher. Don’t live on vodka and fish finger sandwiches, attempt to read at least one set text and most importantly, don’t go out for a fire alarm without knickers because you will soon remember just how windy Lancaster really is. Snogging three members of the JCR on your first social will taint you with a brush that can only be described as “dirty” and being carried out of the Sugarhouse is not a rite of passage to be proud of.  Above all this, though, is the idea that eventually (usually about term two of second year. Be patient) you will be able to look after yourself.  With the multitude of morning-afters, discarded neon tutus and debit receipts for the Carleton (because a cocktail of vodka, sugar and caffeine is a good way to spend your overdraft) will come experience.

Thing is, you’re not just here for a degree. Yes, that precious piece of paper is your golden ticket into the employment kingdom and decreases the chance of you having to spend your working life stacking the shelves at Lidl, but University itself represents much more. Lancaster is the place I met some of my best friends, where I learnt to like mushrooms, where I was sick all over the LUSU president. I have cried and laughed and loved and lived and in the two years I have been here, I have done that clichéd thing of having the time of my life. Not a bad deal for someone who only came here to find a husband.

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