As a bushy-tailed fresher, I remember life being great. You could chat to literally anyone and it was fair game. No-one knew that you were the kid at school that hit puberty aged 10. It didn’t matter that your classmates would open the windows in mid-winter to evade your suffocating body odour. No-one cared that you were the first to suffer from those mysterious sweat patches and your parents didn’t love you enough to introduce you to antiperspirant before you were 17. At university, you started with a clean slate and you could re-invent yourself. For B.O Joe and many like him, first year was a godsend.
That was first year. Third year is very different.
As a third year, it is a sad inevitability that you will undergo irreversible and undesirable changes. Looking back at first year, one thing becomes readily apparent: I was a massive dork. I had dodgy hair, I wore shit clothes, I posted Facebook statuses about how much I loved life and I couldn’t drink to save my life. Whilst it’s true that you can’t polish a turd, I’d like to think that I am at least ever so slightly cooler than I used to be.
In spite of this, as third years we still have an unhealthy preoccupation with fitting in. Regardless of whether you’re a “footballer”, an “indie kid” or a “rocksoc weirdo oddball”, at this stage, you’ve made your bed and you now have no option but to sleep in it. Whilst this does mean that you’ve found people who make you feel comfortable in your own skin, I can’t help but feel that third year isn’t anywhere near as exciting as Freshers.
In first year, you’d go out, get completely mullered and wake up at some point in the afternoon feeling right as rain. Hangovers were something that your dad got after a quiet night down the “pub” with his “bowling” buddies Crystal, Mercedes and Cynthia. In third year, everything’s changed.
Since when did we become middle-aged? Even after a few cheeky ones watching the football, I’ll wake up the next day feeling like I’ve taken part in Wrestlemania. John Terry often gets maligned for what can only be described as his “simple” outlook on life, but when I’m hungover I can actually empathise with his plight. It’s a horrible feeling being barely capable of feeding or washing yourself.
It is a feature of everyone’s childhood that you spend the majority of your time with people of the same sex. At university this trend reverses itself somewhat. In a seemingly perverse social experiment, girls and boys are made to live together in mixed halls.
Before university, 95% of boys believe that girls don’t poo. As a gender, this is a misconception that we’d rather not have dispelled. Accordingly, mixed halls are clearly not what god intended. In spite of this, you will find that there is one particular female flatmate who you spend a disproportionate amount of time with. You will have meals together, watch TV together, and go on nights out together. Unlike your friend-girls from back home, you actually enjoy having a strictly platonic, non-sexual connection with her. This girl is your university sister.
At uni, two things are certain. Number one, you will find a uni sister. Number two, in spite of your best intentions, in spite of the fact that you have no physical attraction to her whatsoever, you will lose all rationality and spend a passionate night getting with your uni sister.
Don’t do this. University is full of thousands of eligible people who don’t also happen to be your sister. This isn’t having fun. It certainly isn’t love. If anything, it’s incest and, unless you’re a member of the ancient Egyptian royal family, this is definitely bad.
At some point during third year, you suddenly turn old. You’ll lose all inclination to be sociable, ignoring a huge number of people in the process. When you see people you know (your first year flatmates included), you’ll put your head down and pretend that you’re texting just to avoid having to make conversation.
Shortly, you’ll start disliking the snow and find yourself detached from “young people’s culture”. What the hell is a meme? Why are they funny? I can’t even pronounce the word.
My theory on third year premature ageing is as follows. It’s not the workload or the constant pressure to get a 2:1 that changes your attitude. The reason students up and down the country bemoan the advent of their third year is the fear that in a year’s time it’ll all be over. At the moment, we’re living the dream, make no mistake about it.
The fact that “The Killers” released their first album in 2004 may make you feel antique enough to be flirting with erectile dysfunction, but however old you’re feeling now isn’t half as old as you’ll be feeling when you’re working 9 to 5. Because of this, I offer the following two pieces of advice to every third year out there. Firstly: savour every last minute of your student existence. Secondly? Leave your sister alone.