The dawn of a new academic year has come and those in education in lots of places around the world, are getting stuck into that learning thing.
It has been fourteen years since I piled my boxes up into my new room at Edge Hill University (or University College as it was back then) and surveyed my new home for the next three years.
It was surreal and scary, if I’m honest, moving into halls. I knew no-one at all, I was on my own and I had to basically adult, whether I wanted to adult or not.
I moved into 34 Lady Openshaw, or to those who sailed in her, Lady Openshed. As it was a bit of a shed. Let us be honest here.
It was a flat roofed hall from the 1960’s and this time, the 60’s were not phoning to see if they could have it back – it was that bad. I imagine these days, now the HE sector has to compete like billy-o (Yorkshire phrase for you) for student numbers, that they have addressed the crapness of the beloved ‘back halls’.
I very much enjoyed the revelation that the mattresses were piss-proof, as they had a comforting, wipeable vinyl finish to them. At least nothing from the previous occupants could leak into the fabric… eugh. It also underlined the fact that these mattresses were bought to last for many years indeed, regardless of their level of comfort. The only thing, therefore, that would have induced my alma mater back then to have parted with cash for new mattresses would have been if they were grotesquely soiled or infested. They’d stopped that from being an issue by buying plasticky mattresses. To hell with comfort!
The one shower on my wing of the hall, was shared by about 20-30 people and down stairs at the other end of the corridor. As a daily-showerer, I found this task gross, undignified and perilous to say the least. The drain was constantly blocked (30 odd showers a day… go figure) so you were above your ankles in water and other people’s soap scum by the time you turned the water off.
I don’t think there was such a thing as a nice shower experience when I was at Uni. At all. Out of the full three years.
I enjoyed making the space my own though. It was cool to decorate it how I wanted it and stick up whatever posters I wanted. Mostly they consisted of photos of my dearly beloved friends and family, posters of kid’s shows and lots of pictures of Huey Morgan and the Fun Lovin’ Criminals.
I even had a lava lamp. Don’t judge me.
It was dreamy to have that room as my very own personal little home. It was just for me, I had to share it with no-one and not let anyone in I didn’t want in there. It was safe, secure and a happy little burrow. It was lovely to feel that for a bit.
There was, of course, the camaraderie of your fellow students that made the experience of halls unforgettable, at least in the back halls.
We all went for a drink the first night we moved in, all unsure and nervous, but all having a great time. I’m still friends to this day with some of the people I met in that first year hall. In my first year, I had a great time over all and the experience in halls helped mark it out for being a great year overall.
So, as I see the latest troop of excited fresher’s amble through at the institution I now myself am attached to, it gives me an excuse to remember my own initial steps towards independent living and adulthood.
I don’t think I will ever get the hang either being independent or being an adult 🙂
I have wondered, over the years, what hopes, dreams, joys and sadness’s have transpired within the walls of the three rooms I lived in at Uni. Especially my first year room in Lady Openshaw – that is the room where my dreams were at their height.
I hope anyone starting Uni create lot’s of great times and fun memories to look back on – and they are just about to start now.
Edge Hill can be a place of dreams if you let it. I met my husband there in my 2nd year and that was my dream come true 🙂
Good luck to the occupants of my old rooms as you settle in and start trying to figure out what that whole grown up thing is. If you work it out, please let me know too.
I must stress, that this is a) my opinion/memories/ impressions and b) from the best part of 20 years ago. I’m pretty certain Edge Hill has done magical things with these halls since then. Remember, the University experience changes hugely over generations, decades and era’s so the hall I describe above, won’t be like that now. I’m sure.