It’s been years in the making but I actually did it. Exam after tiring exam has led me to this quaint little desk in Salford; half eaten cereal to my left, a shopping list to my right, surrounded by strangers. I had literally no image in my head of what to expect upon arrival, so the last few nights leading up to it were almost void of sleep, replaced by re-imaginings of possible situations that could happen. It was nothing as I feared:
Both my mum and dad were there to see me off which is what I think every fragile eighteen year old fresher wishes for when they eventually move out of their crystal palace, so that was a good start. My flat is on the first floor of an eight story building which I previously thought was boring, until I quickly realised that a two second walk up a flight of stairs is infinitely more convenient than waiting restlessly up a sluggish elevator for half a minute. Admittedly, I’ve ventured up to the top floor to see what I was ‘missing out on’, and yes the view of Salford city centre at night is beautiful, but I can still go up and see it whenever I want, and it’ll be even more special when I do – anyway I digress.
One of my main anxieties about moving in was probably shared with most of the other thousands of people my age moving away from their comfortable homes – the initial conversations. I wouldn’t say I’m a socially incapable person at all; my experience with radio presenting and college has pushed my boundaries of openness and has essentially made me into something of a chatterbox, but there was just that constant thought of ‘what if’?…
‘What if X happens?’
‘What if Y doesn’t happen?’
‘What if A,B, or C do this?’
Even though every letter of the alphabet played a part in plaguing my thoughts of undesirable social situations that could occur in the very place I would call home, the initial move into my flat was very dissimilar as to how I’d feared it.
The place was dead. I loudly made an entrance by cooing a high-pitched ‘Hellooo?’ through the front door as I planned, but no one responded. I was the first to arrive. I had time to relax. With my bags in my room, I searched for the tea bags and made my parents a cup in order to further their stay before they left me to fend for myself. When it eventually did reach that point, we all had a good cry (something I did actually anticipate) and we parted ways. Ten minutes into this fresh experience of adulthood and self-reliance, I go ahead and do the only thing I could fathom someone like myself doing, and break the flimsy little excuse of a key card that I need to get into my flat – it’s funny now, but that guy cost me 7 pounds.
Friendships & Socialising
At times like this, in preparation of being around strangers, and I have to befriend at least a few of them in order to keep my sanity, I force myself out of my shell so much that it might as well not return. I become such a little blabbermouth that I forget to let the other person speak. It’s not particularly because I want these people to know everything about me *instantly*, but because if I’m not speaking, and they’re not speaking, then there will be silence, and no one likes silence. Plus, there’s no harm in putting yourself out there to let people in more.
Deciding whether to open up or to stay quiet may determine the friends that you make and keep; and I wasn’t letting some Fresher’s nerves get in the way of what could be a beautiful friendship. I’ve met a good amount of people since my arrival; some I consider friends, others I hope will grow into such in the near future; but regardless I’m glad to still have the safety net of my two best friends who moved with me whose company I could never grow weary of.
My quest to befriend and socialise has taken me to some funny places; namely my first halls party, which is worlds away from the loud yet friendly atmosphere of the student bar that my friends and I have become so readily acquainted with.
My decision to attend one of these parties was very off the cuff for me, as is usually the case when it comes to social events like these. My group and I had already sat at the student bar for an hour for the third or fourth time since arriving, and there was only so much over-bearing music and cramped seating we could take before change of scenery was required. So after finishing our drinks, we left the bar and those braving the parties split off from those who decided otherwise.
It took a few attempts for the crowd we followed to actually locate one of the hosting flats, but after 20 minutes of circumnavigating the village, we were granted entry by a young-faced 19 year old who only the previous night had to be ID’d at the student bar for a drink; poor kid needed his pride back, I think.
If I was back in Bolton, I would probably not be as casually calm about attending such a rambunctious party as I was the other night here in Salford. Though the complete opposite of what I would consider a fun time, I forced myself (slightly) to get as much as could from the experience considering everyone was strangers, and were there just to have a good time without worry of judgement and all of those other things that stop people like me from going to parties…haha.
Anyway, my attempts at social camouflage were for naught because, like flies to a turd, a group of lads immediately took control of the speaker and began blasting the messiah of house grime, Skepta. I’ve never understood the concept or appeal of this newly revered grime deity (except his purely BRITISH exclusivity), but whatever it is had people going insane. Dancing on tables, swinging from non-existent chandeliers, screaming from their top of their lungs that ‘THEY USED TO WEAR GUCCI’ but that is indeed no longer them.
I’m glad they came to that realisation; self discovery is a big part of the student life.
So as you could predict, I wasn’t having the gayest time ever; I was surrounded on all sides by moronic dancing, and there was a slight ring in my ear developing – BUT what is a bit of tinnitus to stop me from being the best social chameleon this city has ever seen?! So after a few minutes of deliberation, I anchored myself and did what I came here to do; socialise. I’d accepted that this was going to be volumes more difficult considering the noise level, but I actually ended up having a some intelligible (if not quite shouty) conversations with a few lovely people from whom I learned a lot more than I had hoped. But after my voice box was close to tearing, I retired from the raucous with my friend Jess and let the rest of the free spirits do their thing; and in a nice turn of events ended up going to a different flat and playing cards and talking conspiracy theories with a much quieter group of people.
If I’d decided to record and write every day since I came here, you wouldn’t be reading this massive catch-up post, but I’ve been too busy drinking and not being bothered to do anything. I’m having the time of my life here, like I knew I would. The homesickness is starting to creeping up on me very slowly, but I have methods of distraction to delay the inevitable, don’t you worry. Hopefully, I’m going to get back into the blogging swing of things soon because I have soooo many drafts that are waiting to be published.
Thanks for sticking around – Matt.X