Part of series: Annual Reviews

On the First Year of University

Or Fear & Loathing in Lancs Vegas

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~1,200 words


Last modified: December 29th, 12,015 HE

What is the matter with universities is that the students are school children, whereas it is of the very essence of university education that they should be adults.

George Bernard Shaw, Misalliance

With the first year of university firmly in the rear view now, I thought it might be fun to wallow in what I’m starting to disconcertingly think will be my peak for a little longer, and jot down any reflections that have managed to withstand the barrage of alcohol.

Freshers’ Week is Pretty Great

Some would argue with this, but Freshers’ Week was a pretty solid introduction to the student lifestyle. Thankfully, Lancaster University doesn’t do what a lot of other people I know’s unis did and merge Freshers’ Week with the first week of lectures — we had a whole week of responsibility-free pissups. For our four-flat blocks, we were given four flat reps, two senior reps and a sole block rep to look after us. Our flat was blessed with a force of nature known only as Big Joe as a rep, who would arrive drunk at 18:00 each day before proceeding to immediately get far drunker. Perhaps this upbringing has had an effect of me, perhaps not. Bar one, the rest of the reps ended up as fast pals throughout the rest of the year.


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Why Did Nobody Tell Me Extracurricular Stuff Was This Fun?

Back in Sixth Form, I disdained all extracurricular activities and boring shite that I couldn’t give less of a toss about. Head Boy, Student Council, Prom Committee — the sole exceptions were a brief foray into the Army Cadets and Subject Prefecting (which pretty much meant nothing). Turns out, it’s a bit of a laugh.

By the end of Michaelmas term, I’d been to events put on by everyone from Barclays to the BBC to Barclays again. Three of them had been in London (with reimbursed travel, natch) and now I know how to use both trains and the godless nightmare that is The Tube. Two of those put me up in hotels the night before because coming from Lancaster for a 9:00 event means getting up at 5:00, and they seemed to empathise that this is untenable — one of those hotels was a £170/night number overlooking the Thames.

Photo of Canary Wharf at night
I call this one Canary Wharf looks cool at night

Then there’s the societies. I’d looked over the list a couple times before arriving, and obviously had to trim my commitments pretty quickly, but they’ve been great. After going on the Eurotrip over Easter holiday (on a whim — I’d chucked a flyer onto my floordrobe without reading it, then uncovered it a few weeks later), I was on the responsible society’s exec within a few weeks and now I’m the Eurotrip Leader for this year. I went from fresh-faced new recruit for The Tab to Reporter over a term and now I’m Head of Marketing.

I even got my first paid job, in programming no less, and whilst commuting to Preston for 9:00 was fairly excruciating after a night in Hustle or Sugarhouse, it was a great first taste of this employment lark I’m meant to be looking into after this whole uni thing blows over.

BlackBerrys + Water ≠ Happy Fun Times

My venerable BlackBerry Curve 8520 drowned in my less-watertight-than-I-thought coat pocket on the way to work. RIP lil’ guy.

Then I immediately bought a BlackBerry Classic. People scoff, but I can’t hear them over my clicky buttons.

[BlackBerry] uses a technology that’s even more advanced than the iPhone’s tap screen, allowing you to actually feel the keys you press as you’re pressing them! The technology is called tactile response, and it allows you to do things like dial a phone number without staring at your screen like a shit-chucking ape. In fact, every other cellphone ever made has this technology, sometimes called buttons.

Maddox, [The iPhone is a piece of shit, and so is your face](

Uni Friendships Are Like a Film on Fast-Forward

Looking back over the photographic evidence of the first term, I’m struck by who I was out with each night — my flat. By Lent term flat 3 had stopped coming out and I’d become a full-fledged adoptee of flat 1 by Summer term. People met five minutes ago became best friends whilst Facebook friends added and phone numbers acquired in week 4 were left unmessaged by week 8. Having grown up in a small town with a largely unchangeable group of friends for the past decade and a bit, this came as something of a surprise.

RIP flat 3's party drive
RIP flat 3's party drive

I’m Not Sure Where My £9,000 is Going

I missed my first lecture a few weeks into Michaelmas term. I stopped going altogether partway through Lent term. By Summer term, I’d added workshops and practicals (except those where coursework was marked) to the list of things I was bunking off. I finished the year with a First.

Extrav Week is Kinda of Bogus

Me at Wild Westrav
Dressing up like a twat is always a laugh though

Lancaster University puts on an Extrav week at the end of the year in an aping of Cambridge’s May Week. All nine colleges put on a big party over three days (well, Grad do theirs in the Summer holiday for some reason) and big them up for weeks in advance. Tickets cost about £8 and the most popular events sold out within seconds. I ended up with tickets to four (which was a pretty wank idea, as I didn’t get enough time to enjoy either of the events on the day I had two).

The thing is, they’re kind of bollocks. Not that they aren’t fun — they’re still a pissup with live music and mates. They all use the same Lancaster University bands and DJs we see every week at Pendle’s live music night or LUEDMS’ house nights. The drink prices were the same as ever. They only went on for a few hours. For all the fanfare, it feels like £3-4 would be more justifiable.

But all your mates are going so you have to anyway.

When Given the Chance, I Will Live Like a Filthy Animal

The above image was taken on Oct 7. I hadn’t even been there for a month yet. By the end of the year there were condom wrappers and god knows what else scattered around. I found a crushed spider when I lifted a hoodie up one day.

There are Exciting New People and Cultures at Uni

I saw my first trans person this year. I’m friends(!) with a Scouser. I’m now aware of the Isle of Man as a real place. Wouldn’t have any of these sorts of high-fallutin’ society things down in sunny Bourne, now would we?

Bins are the Finest Thing to Happen to Drinking Since the Invention of Glasses

I didn’t end up co-founding the Bin Society for nothing.

The TV License is Kind of an Outdated Concept


…and I would appreciate it if you’d stop getting on my case about it. I don’t even own a TV.