It’s the Freshers’ Week time of year again and it’s got me thinking about how great going to uni was for me. I went in 1996, before tuition fees, since which students have become consumers of the product of education for a high cost. If I was eighteen now, I doubt I’d go to uni because I’m from a working class family that doesn’t believe in getting into debt.
A lot of my thoughts about uni made it into The Y2K Diary Of Cleo Howard. One of the big themes is her reticence about going. She has all the typical worries about being smart enough and being away from home. By the end of her first term she’s coped admirably with the change and made friends. She starts to love the city of Coventry.
Here’s an extract from The Y2K Diary Of Cleo Howard when she’s first in at uni;
Wednesday 1st November 2000 – A grey cloud looked down upon Lady Godiva’s nakedness as I walked past today. I wonder what bra size Lady Godiva is? When I came out of Woolworths blue sky heralded my reappearance. A flat puddle in the precinct was mightily upstaged by the nearby fountain’s projection of sparkling water into the chill air. I feel really detached today. It might be because I walked round town thinking about how I would describe the weather and scenery if I was a great writer. Am I really in Coventry studying English? Maybe I’ll wake up back in Reading before A Levels. When I saw the sandwich board advertising the BHS breakfast I suddenly thought that maybe a World’s Strongest Man contestant had once chosen egg, egg, egg, egg, egg, egg, egg and bacon. Or maybe there was once only seven eggs and a bit of bacon left at the time of day at which no more breakfast items were being cooked and displayed. I went and sat in the cathedral ruins for a bit after I’d been to Woolworths. It’s my favourite Cov quiet place. In Reading I like the avenue of trees in Prospect Park.
University always teaches much more than the subject you went to study. I gained confidence in my abilities every year I was there. I hope those starting this autumn have a wonderful time.