Getting to know the people I’d be studying with for the next three years started, for me, on Facebook. A day or so after I got the confirmation I’d be going to uni, I joined the page for my course, was added by the course leader, and invited — along with other first years — to introduce myself. That’s pretty scary, right? I wanted to make a great impression. I wanted to seem funny, intelligent, talented, all that stuff.
I think I wrote about a paragraph of pun-tastic, cringe-worthy nonsense. I’d love to show you that post now, but I unfortunately, I can’t. I know it contained the line ‘I’m Siân: it’s Welsh, I’m not.’ That’s just . . . Yeah. Other students popped up on the page — people who would go on to become really close friends of mine — and what did I do? Well, I stalked them of course. Facebook-stalked, I mean.
So some time after I kind of knew everything about these people that their profiles would tell me (I didn’t add any of them, by the way, that would have been weird), it was Welcome Week. I was super nervous, certain I was going to be the oldest person around a load of starry-eyed eighteen year olds who, some how, all knew a lot more than me.
I met two people in the queue to that lecture theatre that I still have plenty to do with now. Most people were just as nervous as I was, and eager to chat and get to know each other. We sat through staff introductions, were told which tutor groups we were in, we did a quiz — which my team lost, because I got confused over a Cormac McCarthy book title — and then the English students went one way, and the Creative Writing students went another.
Outside where Costa was then (not where it is now), no one really talked to each other. It was supposed to be coffee and a chat, but it felt like someone was going to deliver bad news. The lecturers were giving us some time to make friends and no one was. . . well, playing. Then I recognised some people from Facebook. We had stuff in common. I could have struck up a conversation.
Except how could I, without letting them know I’d stalked them? It would have been terrible. I didn’t want my first impression (if it hadn’t already been marred by making my team lose) to be that I was some sort of stalk-asaurus.
Luckily, one of them owned up to stalking me too, so everything was fine. We’re still pretty good friends. In fact, that day was the day I met a handful of the people that I’ve come to really trust and value, as colleagues as well as friends.
After that, we sat all together in Open Space (which doesn’t exist any more) and we had a bit of a Blind Date moment telling each other who we were and where we came from. Then we were sent up to Hanley Park to write.
That was that. First day there, first day at uni, and I was already writing. We went up to a classroom, discussed modules and plans for the semester, shared our work with each other and received feedback for the first time. It’s nerve-racking, reading your work aloud in front of strangers. Now we share our work with each other like three times a week.
Thinking back on that day now makes me cringe as well as smile just because of how awkward everyone was. Everyone was in the same boat: nervous, excited, unsure. It was pretty good though. . . except for that quiz question still haunting me to this day.
The answer was The Road, by the way.
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