(The hitch-hikers’ guide to the University of Chester, with craven apologies to Doug Adams)
Written by Liz Milne
Creative Writing Major
So the intergalactic alliance has put an educational by-pass right through your home planet and you are now in the improbability drive of university in which all those boring things that mum did are now your responsibility and, dammit, they’re much harder than they seemed to be. So….. how will you cope?
With this handy guide you will be able to fake confidence, competence and capability for long enough to get you through, until you have mastered the skill of keeping yourself moderately healthy and entirely alive, if not perhaps quite as comfortable as you were at home.
To-do lists are your friend. Not much about looking after yourself is difficult – it is remembering to do all the things in the right order. Like, for example, buying the food before the meal-time, especially if it is your turn to cook for the whole house…Hungry housemates may turn feral in which case you are on your own.
To-do lists should include everything you need to do in a day, from getting up in time for that 9am lecture. Whether 9-ams are improved in any way by being online and accessible from the cosy cave of your duvet is yet to be decided, and you, 2020 Freshers, will be the ones doing the deciding! Aren’t you blessed?
If you have never cooked you may regard
the one housemate who is comfortable around the oven with the same regard that ancient Egyptians had for cats back in the day (awe, admiration and hint of fear) but cooking is not, in fact, all that hard. Start simple, with things like pasta (boil in water until it’s done, then take it off the heat straight away.
But do invest in a small cookbook of the ‘for dummies’ (or ‘for students’ which is the same thing, just politer) variety, so that you do not, as many students before you have done, live on only pasta for three months and get so sick of it that even a decade after graduation you still shudder when you hear the word… Work on learning one new simple recipe a fortnight, and you’ll soon have a cult-like following to rival Mary Berry’s
The only trick to laundry is learning to do it before you’re down to your last pair of pants. Okay, maybe there’s a little more to it: remember detergent (that’s the powdery stuff) and conditioner (just like for your hair but more intensely floral), and getting it done before you reach the rummaging through the dirty hamper stage assessing which stains can be hidden under layers of jewellery or that funky waistcoat you got from the charity shop in the first flush of student loan richesse.
Speaking of student loans, you are about to be given what is most likely the largest amount of money you’ve ever had in your life. (If you have had similar sums of money
before, you probably don’t really need this list – just get the butler to pop down with a spare tweeny to sort things out for you…) Do not be fooled, those wonderful figures in your bank account soon whittle themselves down to almost zero, especially after you’ve paid rent for the term and divided the remainder out into weekly parcels for food, cleaning materials and the boring but necessary things. While you might really, really, really want a Nintendo Switch and the latest Animal Crossing – exotic fruits, anyone? – hold back. Give it a couple of months to make sure that you can actually manage on your budgeted amounts before you splurge the remainder.
And finally, remember the university and student union staff have seen a lot of Freshers come and grow over the years. If you do get into a pickle they are definitely more Babel Fish than Vogon and will help you understand what is going on, get you sorted out and more or less back on your feet. It won’t be long before you are a practised and slightly cynical second-year, sneering at (and secretly envying) the next lot of Freshers that find themselves following in your footsteps.
[Ed’s note: If you’ve never experienced The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy, Don’t Panic, the TV series has just become available on Britbox…. And you can probably find it on YouTube]