Arriving at halls on the first day is nerve-wracking, whoever you are. Levels of self-consciousness rise beyond imagination from the cushy familiarity of sixth-form. The first people you meet might still be with their parents; do you introduce yourself? Welcome drinks at the bar in the afternoon; hell, I’m not going on my own!
The university lad? He exists, alright. I actually met him (I use ‘him’ as a metaphorical term for the collective mass of lads) before freshers’ on my pre-registration Geography trip. He strikes you with a firm hand shake. Tinny in his hand – condom in his wallet – he’s a bit like Liverpool Football Club: desperately clinging to his bygone glory days.
Enough about Keswick. Nearly everyone you meet is friendly. I’m in Victoria Park, concededly. Fallowfield may include a greater proportion of tinny-wielding, condom-bearing guys, but here you get on with most people if you put yourself out there and you're not obnoxious.
The nights out got better as the week continued. We started in Deansgate on the Sunday. We were branded like cattle in segregating coloured t-shirts, which for me meant leaving the people I’d been with from Whitworth Park (note: go to your own welcome drinks, not another hall’s!). The t-shirts also rid you of the most basic of conversation starters (name, course etc.), but do prove useful when you forget the name of the person you've been talking to for the last 30 minutes.
Thankfully we got to ditch the t-shirts after the first night. Admittedly they had their uses if you didn't know your way home and just wanted to find some people you're living with, but for me it was a relief. I wish I’d thought of something more witty and alluring than ‘Single’ for my relationship status.
The clubs were packed. Knowing if the girl you'd been dancing with is actually into you proved a real challenge when there was literally nowhere either of you could go.
Meal times were a struggle, but this had subsided by the end of the week. The first five minutes of conversation evolved from its painful 'getting to know you' formula, and by Sunday, I was pleased to know a group of people I could call by name, not just 'Mate' or 'Pal'.
Never the less, the real work (don't disrespect the Geography degree) was still to come…
Reuben Cutts writes about student life for The Manchester Magazine. He is a first-year Geography student at the University of Manchester.