I feel more like a student at home than I do in York.
This (surprisingly lucid) thought occurred to me when a friend and I were doing shots of Apple Sourz in our local Wetherspoons (the only affordable haunt in my grotty and provincial hometown) on a Tuesday night when it was virtually deserted, apart from some lecherous old men. I felt like a living stereotype – the lazy slob of a student so desperate for a kick of lurid, fluorescent alcohol that an empty and thoroughly grim excuse for a pub was the only option. Rarely do I drink such things in York, having recently converted to pre-drinking cheap white wine and then ending up uncomfortably sober in Tru, and certainly never going anywhere near a Wetherspoons. When the Stone Roses have increased the number of mixers on their vodka trebles offer, why on earth would anyone feel the need?
But this urge for disgusting alcohol isn’t the only manifestation of my incongruous student habits. I suddenly have far more university pride than I ever do at York. I have been flaunting my society hoody for as long as the British summer has let me (“look! I have glamorous friends in Other Places! I have escaped you, horrible small town!”). I bought books from my reading list not in an attempt to actually learn, but more to read at work to show that I am A Student and am (supposedly) capable of more intelligent thoughts than the normal checkout fodder. I have procrastinated for far longer than I would normally do over an essay over writing this Comment piece. I truly am a living stereotype.
But I think there is a reason for this. As a naïve and ignorant first year, the summer holiday seemed an incomprehensibly long time away while I was trudging my way round campus in the snow in February. The possibility of ever escaping the York bubble to return to a climate where I could actually feel my fingers seemed akin to landing a half-decent job immediately after graduation with a humanities degree (i.e. zero). But perhaps big money city lives as drones at Goldman Sachs do beckon for us, because here we are in August.
But the upshot of all this is that I, along with so many others, packed up my room and drove away from York with my only answer to the perennial question, “what are you doing over the summer?” being “not much”. As I wasted my time stalking people on Facebook, I discovered that various people I know have managed to secure glamorous internships doing far more useful things than my menial job, and others still have flown the nest and are off travelling various obscure parts of the globe. Perhaps it would have been prudent to have actually planned something to do? I might not be so stuck in my rut of student-like non-activity had I had the sense to look forward.
In a fit of productivity, I conducted extensive research into various internships and career advice and got all sorts of useful information. But I also managed to scare myself silly with my own inadequacy. The prospect of writing a CV to apply for said glamorous internships is terrifying. I haven’t done any fantastic volunteer programmes, I haven’t launched my own magazine, I haven’t scaled Everest, I haven’t solved hunger in a small African country – in fact, I don’t appear to have done anything. The University Careers Office is constantly bombarding everyone with information and students are frequently guilt-tripped about not finding enough things to boast about when the time comes, but having attempted a mock CV myself, I’m starting to get the point.
So, when we return for the start of the new academic year, I am going to fulfil yet another stereotype. As a new second year, I am going to be more pro-active. The CV won’t write itself. The recession may be biting, student numbers may be at an all-time high and jobs may be harder to come by than a clean toilet in Ziggy’s, but we should give ourselves the best possible chance. And I for one will be amongst the masses of the second and third years joining legions of bizarre societies and attending additional lectures and generally just waking up from the drink-induced stupor of first year.
So, I’m enjoying my summer student lifestyle while I can. It may not last after October.