What words can be said to sum up an experience like University by a Graduate. After there time studying (vaguely) partying, drinking and climbing to the top of their mountains (personal goals), I have decided that the best words that I can come up with to explain my time as a University student are these
”An Adventure of a lifetime”
It’s almost been a year since I’ve graduated and moved on but I’ve had this time to reflect and think about my time in Huddersfield and write about it, the reason for this is because I am so proud of every single thing that I achieved during my time there and I never want to forget it so I will write down my thoughts, stories and experiences and share it and maybe one day, show my children my experiences as well and perhaps inspire, put a smile on faces or even just raise an eyebrow or two, who knows but that’s the beauty of writing, getting a reaction and telling a tale. Everything from my first day all the way to the moment my tossed my hat into the air to celebrate the closing off the book. Well, I feel happy enough to go through it all, I feel like I did enough to be able to.
I met allot of people from all walks of life during my time there and I can remember most exchanges and moments, ranging from being asked to spoon on a bed during class, chasing a squirrel through Storthes Woods whilst being drunk, playing hide and seek for an exercise, comparing Hitler, Saddam Hussein and others to Shakespeare’s Richard the Third to falling off stage after a stage slap went all wrong. To be honest, I did allot of new things, most of which were fun and exciting, they always made me happy just for being apart of something wonderful and I can’t wait to write about them all.
It takes a lot to give up Three to Four years of your life, just to move away from home and go to a new town/city to attend University, life changing and all that it can be, well it was like that for me anyway but then again I had grown up in a very small market town so moving anywhere like Huddersfield was obviously going to have a big impact on me. It was this kind of situation for me to pack up and attend University because no one ever expected that I would get anywhere near University…let alone College, the vision for me was to stay in my hometown and work after school but I rejected this idea for my future, I wanted to take control and be in charge of my own destiny. I remember at the time, this was in my last year at Craven College, being the only one talking about University whilst most of the others wanted to stay and do the Foundation Degree there but that didn’t interest me…I wanted to get out there and see things, do new things and grow as a person. I did the UCA’s application and put down the following Universities as my choices.
In the end, I decided to go to Huddersfield, it was nice little town in West Yorkshire, I liked the environment of the campus and the Milton Building where the Drama course was held and the area that Huddersfield was in as well, it wasn’t terribly ages from home and Leeds and Manchester were just a simple train ride away. I went along to one of the Open Days that the University holds and I met the tutors and got a look about the Campus for the first time. The first tutor I met would turn out to be a massive influence to me during my time there, his name was Eric Hetzler, there was something about him that I just loved, his cheeky grin, that accent of this…his always positive attitude, it always made me never give up and inspire to be better and I now believe that it was partly down to this that I got as far as I did in the end, I can never thank that man for just…being him. I even remember the first words I ever heard him say
‘Alright guys, let’s go and play’
It was mainly because of him that I chose to study at Huddersfield and I was over the moon to have been accepted by them, as long as I got the right marks at college which I did in the end, so everything was going to plan, I would get the chance I had craved since I was in school, to prove everyone wrong and get to the other side, to show that I could do so much more then anyone had given me credit for previous, that would be amazing to just go to new places and develop as an actor.
I was willing to give anything a try at this point, I was not much of a drinker or anything so it was an exciting thought that I would give clubbing a proper go, although not being a fan of crowded spaces with a lot of people in at once, I was unsure how well I would do at this. I’d not done much clubbing before and I felt that it would impact on my experiences, It turns out that there would be more clubbing moments during my three years then I ever thought there would be so in that sense, I should be proud but they’ll come later.
Leaving my hometown was almost too much for me, it was only two hours away but that wasn’t the issue with me, I wouldn’t see my parents or friends as often as I was accustomed too or my girlfriend and I didn’t like that but I knew that everyone else was going to be in the same boat as me when we started so that made me feel comfortable. Questions floating through my head as to how much my life would be different by the time I would be finished, would I still be with my girlfriend or would that break away? Would I get the Degree that I wanted? Would my time away be a waste of time? Would I make friends or would I be a loner? So many questions that I couldn’t wait to be answered.
I chose to live in Storthes Hall Student Village, somewhat 5 miles away from Huddersfield, heading Sheffield way, we got lost on the way and ended up near a golf course before we found the woods and the abandoned nut house which was on the site of the student village, guarded by a German Shepherd and it’s owner. There were many buildings, a shop, bar and there were the woods to explore as well so there was plenty to do which was good, the only drag was the bus service into town, it would take twenty minutes each way so you couldn’t always have a lie in if you fancied one. I really was now in the middle of butt fucking nowhere…just hills and a giant white tower in the distance, actually it did feel like home.
Unpacking was a tough process as you see your new room for the first time and more interestingly, the people you would spend the next year with. No one was about when I arrived so went to my small room with it’s own bathroom and bed as well as a desk with it’s own chair, not bad and it would do. Soon, it was full with my stuff to give it that home feeling, or as close as an Arsenal rug, pictures of family and friends and an Xbox can does well as a shit ton of food to start off with. At the end of the day, I was living in a small box, with a toilet inside of it and paper thin walls where you could hear everything that other people were up to, which during that year would be a massive pain, although at one point, it was my room that annoyed the others but that’s later on.
There would soon come the moment when my parents had to go home, I actually think I asked them to stay for quite a while longer then I thought I would have…the truth was I was too afraid to let them go, even though I was excited about University, the realization was kicking in, this was it. Eventually, I couldn’t keep them in my room any more, they had to go home and I had to finish unpacking. I remember my Mother crying as the van drove away, My Father told me to always keep in contact, they drove around the corner, leaving me in the middle of the woods, in the student village…all alone, it was a moment that I’ll never forget because I knew that the new chapter of my life had just begun, there would be no turning back for me now. Ever since I could remember, everything inside of me, just wanted to fit in and not have to worry about the small things in life like socializing and doing well in life, basically being happy.
My flatmates were all nice people which made things easier for me, although they were all more outgoing and confident with clubbing then I was. One of the girls, Katrina was on the same course as me which was as as was she, very friendly, as were the other two girls Sophie and Effie as well. At the time, there was only one other lad in the flat and to be honest, he wasn’t the most all in the head individual I’ve ever met, he was nice but I always felt like there was something ‘not there with him’ but alas I was invited to a flat party with them all on the night I moved in. I didn’t speak much at the party, I was too nervous to do so, I wasn’t used to it, part of me just wanted to run and hide but I did not…well not straight away anyway, I think I stayed about an hour before I told my flatmates that I was going back to my room and I remember one of them, I think it was Sophie who said she admired that I had ‘Given it a try’, even though I didn’t feel comfortable with the idea. Those words comforted me and made me feel that I had accomplished something that night, it was only the first small step I would make, there were many more to come. One came at the bar in Storthes where I vaguely remember getting very drunk which actually made me talk more…people found it funny how I suddenly changed and popped out of my shell to be more social, I would end up falling of a dance square, banging my head on the floor and collapsing in a room and have to be helped back to the flat by others, something that had never happened before. My first proper hangover and good night out at University, one that I’ll cherish, even if I ended up drenched in beer and not being able to walk straight for a day. I still have a picture of a group shot of that night hung up, I look happy in it.
I really think I shitted myself the first day that the whole course got together, I am terrible at making a first conversation with another human being, let alone a hundred but I went in and maybe said hello to a few people but mostly kept to myself at first, I just found it to be easier and I think people could see that I was afraid or they got bored due to my lack of making small talk, everyone seemed to make it look easy, saying hello, let’s be friends! I felt alone at first, like no one wanted to get to know which I know wasn’t all true but at the time it was like I was a ghost in a crowd. It’s true, you can be in a crowd of a hundred people and still have 99 people ignore you. I was just too afraid to try and I remember almost quitting the course at the end of that week. I cried into my girlfriend Emma’s arms on the Sunday evening
‘Don’t leave me here!’
I didn’t want to let go and she looked heartbroken as I took her to the train station so she could go home for the week, i’ll never forget her face or mine as she pulled away, if I had slipped under the train at that moment as it pulled away, I probably wouldn’t have minded as I was that afraid to go on and complete University alone, feeling so alone in a new place…it was an awful feeling but I soldiered on because I had too…there were so many others who were in the same position as I was and It wasn’t like I had never spoken to anyone while I was there, I couldn’t just give up because it was a little hard, I closed my eyes and took a deep breath before going back to my flat and spent the night contemplating, how am I going to do this?
Classes started and from what I can remember, I would slowly begin to interact with others more and more, at least enough to say hello and be polite which others were to me which was a relief but no one really knew much about me apart from my name, I still had a long way to go with the group. I remember a lad called Adam on my course asked if I wanted to join him and some others at a bar in town one afternoon, I’d wanted to do something like that but I turned him down, saying I had to get back to my flat but the truth was I was too afraid to go and I’ve always kicked myself for not accepting his invitation. It just showed me that I was too afraid to show myself and be rejected by everyone. I would avoid asking if I could sit with others, because I was too scared they’d tell me to get lost or even if by some miracle, they said yes, what then? I couldn’t make proper conversation and make friendships like they all could.
I could tell that the road ahead, was going to be a very very long and hard one but you know what they say, if it wasn’t hard, it wouldn’t be worth it in the end.