(Originally published by Thought Catalog)
I don’t know why it happened. Maybe I just watched Dead Poets Society one too many times growing up and assumed all places of higher learning would be full of poetry recitals, standing on tables and boys with cute ’90s hair. Maybe it is because open days and prospectuses openly lie to us. Either way, what I thought university would be like and what it is really like are about as different from each other as Robin Williams in DPS and Robin Williams in Jumanji.(Now, I’m talking about university in Britain here, but I’m sure this is equally applicable to the US, just with more beer bongs…)
1. University is a great time to get involved in politics
In the Paris 1968 riots, it was the students leading the way, starting fights and shouting philosophy whilst looking generally cool in that French sort of way. Come 2013, however, and university politics just feels like a list of words you use to score.
“oh yeah, I believe feminism is the most important movement of our times,” he says, as he places his hand on her knee – at least forty years ago that hand might have held a placard first! Even those of us genuinely interested in politics or social change are too busy blogging snarkily about things to actually make a difference…
2. You will find the love of your life there
One of the main reasons I came to uni to study English rather than just, you know, reading books, was that somehow I believed I would find the love of my life there, that we’d bond over a shared love of the work of Samuel Beckett or by arguing over philosophy or whatever. However, the only thing I really found was awkward encounters that meant I couldn’t walk into certain lectures ever again without blushing, and a herpes scare after St. Patrick’s Day. Basically, to use a suitably literary metaphor, I came there expecting Brideshead Revisited but actually found Lord of the Flies, but with sexual hormones and vodka shots instead of a deserted island. Which leads me to…
3. University is an intellectual breeding ground
I like to get absolutely wasted as much as the next person (as my herpes scare I hope shows…), but I can’t be the only one who actually came here because they wanted to learn something from time to time, and who wanted to spend three years around people who love to learn as much as they love liquor. I mean, that’s what we’re paying for, right? Instead, the main talk on campus is on Jersey Shore (which seeing as I live in a country where it’s not even on a major network is saying something), and where the only time anyone is in the library is the month before finals – and even then because the rumour had gone round that there was a secret alcove in the basement that was great for hooking up (there is and it was.)
4. Boys are willing to ‘experiment’ in university
Although a few of my girlfriends have moved to the Ellen-shaped side over the last two years, whether on a trial basis or more permanently, the days of boys giving it a go seem to be long over. It’s a scientific fact (…probably) that as the wearing of chinos in a community increases, their desire to sexually experiment decreases, and chinos are at an all-time high here – as the saying I’ve just invented goes, with denim comes dabbling. Gone are the ideas of free love that I’d expected and hoped for – in fact, your chances of some ‘love’ are directly proportional to the amount of heavily alcoholic drinks you’re able to afford.