Well this week was my first week back at university in my final year of undergraduate studies. And all in all it was a pretty good week. The shock of having to get up early on a Monday morning to join everybody else in the car park grand prix was something I had been dreading and it didn’t disappoint. Monday morning, 6.30am and the alarm goes off and keeps repeating until I can find my phone to turn it off. Up and out though I went for my first lecture at 9.15am and to be honest it wasn’t that bad once I got into the car and set off and you realise that you’re going through the same routine as millions of others.
Huddersfield is a lovely town, so many fine Victorian buildings in a compact setting which makes it very easy to get around. One other thing I love about Huddersfield is the variety of shops it has for such a small town from trinket shops to a great Oxfam book shop where I have bought many bargains to a West Indian food shop which one day I must go in to see what I can buy to make a stir-fry, Huddersfield seems to have something for everyone and is a great alternative to nearby towns and cities. Bradford in my opinion has gone downhill since I was a small child in awe of its charms and history. Where once there were grand buildings, a great fish and meat market and a city with life, now there is only betting shops, mobile phones shops and pound shops. The reasons for this are many and complex but to me it’s about trying to compete with it’s much larger neighbour, Leeds, rather than trying to establish its own identity which Huddersfield and Halifax seem to have done. The aforementioned Leeds has gone from strength to strength and is now a powerhouse of industry in the North, up there with Liverpool, Manchester and Newcastle for importance.
However I digress and suffice to say that walking to university on a crisp and sunny October morning, is for me one of life’s little pleasures, made even better once the university itself comes into view and the feeling of learning, teaching and hard work comes wafting through the air like the smell of the freshly baked buns my mum used to bake for me and which brought me running back home from wherever I was. I had been to the university over the summer and at that time when it is empty of students it does seem a desolate place and reminds me of a ghost town with the odd person wandering around as if they had stumbled across it by accident. Come September though and it begins to come alive with noise, smell, colour and you realise the purpose behind any university which is not only to learn the subject you are studying for but also to experience life and culture in a unique setting safe from the usual pressures of society.
This was brought home as my lecture that day was Film and Cinema and looking back at classic British films, in this case Saturday Night and Sunday Morning, and looking at the culture of that period which inspired that film and comparing it to contemporary society and seeing what has and has not changed. Much has changed of course, but a lot of things haven’t and some of the ways in which people are portrayed in the film are very similar to today’s society. Angry young men, going out drinking, illicit relationships, still go on and always will. All that’s changed is the setting because so many places have been demolished and rebuilt and the scene with different music, television and fashion. Strip all that away and you still have the same lives being lived, the same mistakes being made, hearts being broken and a myriad of other situations that make life what it is. Watching an old classic film such as this and reading the newspaper headlines from that era drive it home even more for me. We all think we are inventing life when in fact all we are doing reliving the lives of these who have gone before us.
It was of course good to see familiar faces and catch up on what people had been doing over the summer break. Most people hadn’t been doing too much by the sound of things, but still had a pleasant summer away from university. The rest of the week was a gentle easing back into university life, although there is always that undercurrent of seriousness to be read into what your lecturers say. I’m under no illusions that this year will be very hard but ultimately very rewarding too. This was emphasised by the meeting I had with my dissertation supervisor who set me a few tasks but also warned me about taking on too much over the coming year and concentrating on my studies. This was further driven home when I decided that I could still stop up late, get up early and do my lectures and very quickly discovered I could not. Lesson number one learnt!
It has been a very good week back at university, but now the hard work starts as I move into week two and doing some actual work!