The Lonely Smoker

The biblical arrival of York’s population of freshers has arrived. Stand ye ready, all with sanity

The flooding of York was a sign. It was a sign from God. It was His attempt to wash away the great filthy mass of humanity, commonly referred to as ‘freshers’. However, as with so much of God’s initially fantastic ideas (Adam and Eve, Jacob and Isaac, that whole business with a tower) the execution was less than perfect.

I’ve spent the last two years of my time huddled miserably under an eave attempting to suck nicotine into my decaying lungs, whilst sheltering from the uniquely Yorkshire combination of wind and icicle-like rain. Frankly, the latest biblical piss-down was less than welcomed.

Thanks to God deciding not to check the University of York’s e:vision schedule (omnipresent my arse), he was unaware the extravangza known colloquially as “freshers fortnight” starts a good two -three weeks after every other university in Britain.

So whilst he was bang on target for the rest of the country, our University’s Oxbridge ambitions, and the fact they like to extract as much money as possible from you whilst simultaneously teaching you for the shortest possible amount of time, meant that God missed the bowl by two weeks. . Thus not only was I miserably wet and cold, I was also denied the satisfaction of seeing a bunch of confused 18 year-olds drenched and chilled to the bone thanks to Yorkshire weather.

Me 0, Freshers 1.

I have a lot against freshers. The premise of Freshers Week is a degrading, dehumanising exercise in exorbitant spending and utterly pointless facebook grandstanding. No, actually, I don’t want to know that you’ve been out every night so far and are “suffering from the worst hangover ever!!! #YOLO #Freshers’12”. On a side note, I’d like to point out to all the idiots out there using hashtags on Facebook that they are FOR TWITTER.

I’d love someone to do a survey on the estimated spike in the number of photos uploaded during freshers week. Or fortnight, or whatever it is that YUSU are calling the exercise this year. Someone explain to me the point of going into a venue, paying for a drink, and then proceeding to stand (let’s be honest, you haven’t actually danced anywhere this week, because each club has been so full of students you’ve felt more like a sardine than a human being) and have your picture taken. You don’t talk to people, you just compare flash techniques and exposure. Then, when you’ve finally exceeded your cameras memory, you walk home with your friendly tele-tubbie (currently masquerading as something called a ‘STYC’) and proceed to upload everything, complete with in-jokes, and copious references to all your new best friends.

Of course it can be enjoyable. I know a number of my friends have spent the last two weeks gearing themselves up in preparation for one final fling at the grubby allure of youth. And I mean that literally, not figuratively. One friend (male) responded to my inquiry about whether he was looking forward to freshers week with: “Freshers mayhem … yeeeeehhhhhhhh!!!!! Sick!” Bearing in mind he’s a third year, and his next statement was, “you know what’s a huge tune? Jamelia Superstar” I think you get an idea of the average mental age of those who enjoy the week.

It’s obvious I’m pretty jealous. Despite preferring to gouge out my own eyes with a spoon than endure freshers week again, I’d give almost anything to have my first year again. Once you get over the pure hideousness that is freshers week, and start meeting the people who you actually have something in common with (rather than bond over the fact your drinking a similarly fluorescent coloured cocktail) you start having a pretty great time.

With this in mind, I have one and only one piece of advice to offer first years currently going through the tribulation of freshers: go hang with the smokers. I’m not advocating smoking (keep your hair on YUSU), but if you feel like engaging in a conversation and making a connection based on similar interests rather than shared saliva, head for the smokers area.

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