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How to explain where you come from during Freshers’

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When you get to university, you really begin to comprehend just how massive the country is. The North/South divide you probably had set in a firm boundary in your mind becomes blurred, particularly when you realise that you’re at a Midlands university. What even are the Midlands? Are we in the North? The South? No-man’s land? Ask a southerner and they’ll say the north; a northerner the opposite. It’s a hot mess of geography up in here, mirroring a breakup where nobody wants to claim the dog as their own.

The main thing that you’ll come to realise in time at university (and by ‘time’, I really mean ‘no time at all’ because that’s what I found) – that there are just a few acceptable answers to the question that you will repeatedly be asked during Freshers’ fortnight: “so, where you from mate?”

Acceptable response #1 – ‘near London’
You could be from Kent or even the West Country for all anyone actually cares. If you’re from a little obscure town that nobody will have heard of, just say you’re from near London and everybody will believe you; Greater London is so big it seems to span half of the south to anyone living outside of it.

Acceptable response #2 – ‘oh, up North’
As a northerner let me tell you right here and now that it’s pointless to tell anybody who was born south of Sheffield where you are actually from. I’m blessed enough to live in one of the few northern cities that most people have heard of (shout out to fellow Leeds dwellers. Loiners is it? Nobody ever tells us do they?). However, as I found out when I went to university, most people seem to think we’re still country-dwelling coal miners up in the north, going about our business in fur pelts thicker than those worn by House Stark. A vague allusion towards being a northerner is a sufficient answer – they’ll probably have guessed anyway thanks to the tell-tale accent – but it turns out that the rest of Britain’s geographical knowledge of the North is lacking…who knew?

Having said all that, it really doesn’t matter where you come from when you come to Warwick

Acceptable response #3 – ‘about two and a half hour’s drive from here’
We’re in the Midlands. We’re pretty much the same distance from everywhere in the country. When you realise this fact, it makes the exciting coincidence that you and all your flatmates all happen to live the same distance from university, just in different directions, far less exciting than it first was.

Acceptable response #4 – just name the country
Warwick has a reputation for being fantastic across the world, meaning that, like lots of other Russell Group universities, we have a lot of international students. If you thought that trying to explain where Doncaster is to a Londoner was tricky, try attempting to explain where your village in Norway is located in relation to Oslo to a flat full of drunk teenagers…It’s probably best in this situation just to say the name of the capital city of your country, even if you live miles away. People are going to imagine you stood next to the Eiffel Tower anyway even if you do come from Nice because we are British and mildly xenophobic stereotypes and assumptions are what we do.

Having said all that, it really doesn’t matter where you come from when you come to Warwick, simply because there are people here from all over the United Kingdom and across the entire world. If anything, your response should vary from the generic answers listed above: be bold, be different and give an actual answer. Just don’t be surprised if you’re met with blank stares and slow blinks as people try to work out whether Cockermouth is an actual place you are from – it exists, trust me – or you’re trying a very unique attempt at banter…

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