A couple of weeks ago I watched the first episode of Channel 4’s ‘The Secret Life of Students’: a four part documentary following 12 freshers through their first year at University. By displaying on screen their texts, tweets, Facebook statuses, photos and videos, the programme was able to follow every antic, concern and piece of gossip as it unfolded throughout their first term.
As expected, a good 50 minutes of the hour was dedicated to apparently ‘revealing’ the so-called ‘secret’ life of students that involved heavy drinking, bar crawls, hangovers, ‘smashing and dashing’, STI’s caught from said smashing and oh yeah, some more drinking. Only tee-total Lauren broke the mould of your ‘typical’ student, and the effects of not wanting to join in with the shinannigans were only too obvious. There was one scene in which the students were shown going to a lecture, but texts such as ‘First lecture today, only 3 hours sleep’ appearing above their heads wrote off any suggestion that the students actually did any, dare we say it, studying.
Now before you all start calling me Buzz McKillington, this is not a post about how we should all stop drinking and start behaving like responsible adults, because I for one have enjoyed the fun, freedom and alcohol-fueled happenings of first year life. However there is a general idea around freshers year that this is the only way to be a ‘proper’ student; If you’re not one for 3 nights out a week and still being drunk in your 10am lectures, you’re not making the most of your time at University. During the programme the reaction on twitter echoed much of the pressure at university, for example one girl asked, when referring to Lauren, ‘How can she be a student and not drink? Very confused’, whilst many other tweets followed the reaction often met should you dare to not go on a night out, such as ‘Well Lauren’s a barrel of laughs isn’t she…’
But perhaps the tweets that worried me most were the ones from freshers-to-be. Yes, many were saying how the programme was making them even more excited about starting university, but there were also plenty of tweets from concerned non-party-animals who were beginning to dread what was ahead of them. So whether you’re about to start university at the end of the summer, or whether you’re already a student, the most important thing to remember is that there is no right way to be a student. If you love a big night out, or if you would rather go down the pub, or if you would simply rather be at the Battle Reenactment Society, fear not, there is room for every type of student at university. To prove there’s more than one way to be a student, I asked some of my lovely pals to say a bit about what ‘student life’ means to them:
Nora – Nora is all about getting the most out of the unique experience university has to offer. She is great fun and loves a good ol’ rant – check out her nail-on-the-head opinions at nolite te bastardes carborundorum
“Life as a university student is about the expansion of your knowledge facilitated by academics in your area of study. Coming to uni you have the opportunity to meet and befriend people you wouldn’t have done back home and broaden your social and cultural knowledge. I think it’s a shame that people want to reduce university life to an endless cycle of being horrendously drunk then battling through the grimmest hangovers.Clubbing isn’t for everyone, I’d much prefer a sit-down at the pub where I can actually hear what my friends are saying.”
Beth – Beth lives far out from campus, but has proven that this doesn’t mean not being involved in student life. Beth is super sweet and has made plenty of good friends despite the distance.
“To me, being a student simply means being enrolled in a university course, but other than that I am somewhat unlike most people’s ‘typical’ idea of a student; I live on my own, two bus rides away from campus, and I don’t drink or go clubbing. This doesn’t mean I’m detached from uni life, I am very lucky to be enrolled in a degree that I love, I have great friends who I really value, am involved in the Christian Union society and genuinely enjoy my life as a student.”
Sophie – Sophie is a top class social butterfly and is always busy. She loves a good party, but her dedication to her course proves you can have the best of both worlds. For her style and beauty tips head over to Sophie etc.
“For me, being a student is one big learning curve – not just in regard to the degree, but all aspects of life. You learn to be part of a community, be independent, and tolerant. I’ve become more self assured and comfortable with myself as well as broadening academic horizons. Student life is about learning and adapting, being fulfilled by knowledge and forging connections and friendships to last a lifetime.”