Since starting University just over a year ago, I’ve spent quite some time considering what exactly it means to be a ‘student’. In the eyes of the employed we’re the scruffily-clad, inherently lazy but vaguely intelligent hordes shuffling across the city every day. To our lecturers we’re a herd of loyal, albeit sleepy, listeners. And to each other we’re just ourselves – happily plodding through our degrees in a haze of books, bobble hats, baked beans and booze.
So the ideal student aesthetic isn’t hard to conjure up. Looking around my lecture theatre the other day though, something hit me: we are all kind of the same. And by that I don’t mean the continuity of slightly bored expressions, or the matching jumpers adorning so much of the Roger Stevens congregation. Jokes aside, the student stereotype is stronger than ever: the well-spoken, class-restricted bubble of student-hood seems to be thickening, and I’m beginning to wonder if the typical student caricature is as desirable as we think.
There has always been a kind of rough-and-ready attractiveness to being one of the student masses. In my years at school I remember typical Uni anecdotes from my older sisters and friends. I revelled in the grossness of meals that consisted of only carbohydrates, and tales of hanging milk outside the window in the winter. Broken heating, illicit substances and all-nighters (even when they were in the library…) – it seemed such an exotic freedom from my A Level exam revision desk – a world I was yet to be part of.
So is being the typical student something to be proud of? Sometimes it seems that our human obsession with finding an identity takes over to the point that we all jump in one box and end up the same. I’m not saying that we’ve all become some tribe of Dr Who-esque clones, but I think that it’s all too easy for us to get carried away with ourselves as a force outside of the rest of society. The truth is we’re not like aliens at all. Student life isn’t the be-all and end-all: it may be the ‘best years of our life’ but that doesn’t mean we should forget about the world outside of Tuesday night parties.
Being a student I’ve met some of the friendliest, most laid back people I know, and that’s probably why we stick together so much: having weird timetables and oddly shifting sleeping patterns makes it hard to mingle with the normal world. It would be nice though to forget about the word ‘student’ for a bit. I know I won’t be the only one who avoids Call Lane on a Saturday because of all the ‘normal folk’ who actually work during the week, but when it comes to being more diverse within our own student-ified bubble, I think we have a long way to go.