Monday, 6 October 2008
It's the start of Noughth Week or Freshers' Week, a week that ends when everyone has Grotty Flu. I went to the College Bar last night to rebond with friends who have returned from various trips, fieldwork stints and write-up caves. I became embroiled in rowing and Australians v New Zealander banter, which didn't thrill me, but the rest was most enjoyable indeed [wobble chin]. We asked about each other's holidays, relationships, research and plans for the year. There are many lovely 'freshers' (new students) and, as a group, they seem ebullient, if a little hyper. Every year has a personality, you see. Since I have been here it has been: eccentric, brutal, earnest, and close and cliquey. It's too early to say for sure what this year's is.
I told Kiwi Fresher, who called me 'Dingo' and kept on mimicking my voice that he had a week to get over me being Australian. He said to give him two days. Deal.
You can already see the grip of College Neurosis over the freshers in their striking need for attention and acceptance. For freshers, Michaelmas Term means an almost constant drive to give sound bites, to make sure everyone knows just how carefree your personality is (It's so carefree, don't you think? Don't you think? Tell me!), to make absolute claims about what you're about and how much you know, to link arms with people you met 30 seconds ago, to give freebie rubs and strokes to everyone - even the catering staff - en route to the toilet or the tray rack, to be involved in every dinner plan (like the international dinner which apparently took place last night), punting session or dress-up activity.
In this kerazy environment, things are often misinterpreted. Last night, for instance, Outrageous 'I drink red wine every night' Fresher completely missed the ironic tone of an admittedly fairly poor (but nonetheless objectively harmless) joke I made about freshers. I didn't think it would bring the house down, but I thought it might elicit a bit of a chortle [cross/ rejection noise from Family Feud].
When I caught Outrageous Fresher alone, I told her that I think she had misunderstood my intentions. She agreed. But it was silly of me, really. Freshers' Week is no laughing matter. There are a lot of exuberant faces, wild hand gestures and petit scandals, all of which come to a crescendo at the Saturday's 'Uniform' (with a hint of slag) bop or College party, but it's all too fresh for the freshers (haha, see what I did there?) to laugh at right now.