Off To Newcastle
The course I applied for was Classics which, according to the prospectus, was the “Study of Greece and Rome in terms of culture, religion, art, architecture and archaeology.” There was also the “Chance to study the languages of Ancient Greek and Latin,” although I didn’t fancy that much.
With a feeling of apprehension in the pit of my stomach, I cadged a lift up to Newcastle one grey Monday morning for the start of the course. As I slammed the car door shut, I slung a bag over my shoulder and went to the accommodation office. I had nowhere to live. Although I’d applied for a room in time, I’d missed out on getting a permanent place in a hall of residence. After several hours, I managed to get into Castle Leazes hall of residence for one week only. I dropped my bag off in the room, which seemed a bit like a prison cell, and headed to the bar in the evening. I didn’t know anyone there, but got a beer in and chatted to random students about A-level grades, the courses we were about to study and where we were from. I got bored quickly and danced by myself to Blue Monday by New Order. Being there felt like a mistake.
Over the next few days, I met a lot of people but was an outsider as they all had a year-long stay in the hall of residence whilst I had only a few days left. I filled my time getting to know people and went to the Classics department reception, which was a wine and cheese evening. The tutors seemed to be cloned. Dull, dusty-haired, loafers and brown jackets. I made the best of it, talked to various people and took full advantage of the free wine.
At the end of the week, I packed to leave the hall of residence just as my lectures were about to begin. I left the rowdy freshers’ area and walked outside, past the double-doors where the older, final year students lived. It was quiet there and I saw a few undergraduates milling about. I wondered if I’d ever be good enough to get to their level. I spent the next few weeks commuting for lectures until the accommodation office found me a room at a place called Summerhill House in Benwell. It was a rough-looking area and, judging by the glares from locals, students were not welcome.