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25th November 2013

Do you lead a double life?

Does university allow you to create a ‘new you’? Lauren Arthur discusses.

Coming to university is a strange in-between. You live away from home for prolonged periods of time yet you haven’t officially ‘moved out’. You live with people you haven’t long met whilst trying to squeeze in Skype dates with those you grew up with. You’re the drunken youth that staggers around at four in the morning and the ‘clever, mature young adult’ that your family are so proud of. But are you the same person at university and at home? Is it balancing act or a complete switch of character; is there a uni you and a home you?

Some of my friends act completely differently in Manchester than they do at home. In Manchester they might drink, smoke or do drugs whilst their home self rolls their non-dilated pupils in disapproval. Others thrive on their degree, forming a worryingly intimate relationship with Ali G that they choose to not to mention to their not-so-academic friends at home. In a city so vibrant and diverse, it seems relatively easy to both lose and find yourself.

For many, coming to university changes young people for the better, myself included. Clichéd case of girl in small inconveniently situated southern village moves to big buzzing northern city. I had no attachments or commitments; it was my chance to redefine myself. What I found was that redefining yourself is near impossible unless you’ve been pretending to be someone you’re not for the first eighteen odd years of your life. Instead the side of me that I knew had been there for a while was able to come out. Still shy, awkward and prone to going red when someone looks at me for longer than five seconds, but not all the time, and not quite so much.

Unless you were a) clingy and/or b) stupid, choosing to follow half of friends from home to the same university, chances are few people from home know you in this city. You don’t have to worry about your past: what you did, how you acted, who expects what of you: it’s liberating and refreshing.

Obviously people change all the time; you’d change in three years wherever you were, but university seems to provide a sort of bubble of non-reality. It’s a safety net zone in which you can experiment and become a better version of yourself instead of being so sculpted by your upbringing and home surroundings.

So I suppose this is my little tribute to Manchester. I wouldn’t say I live a double life but this rainy city has certainly done me a helluva lotta good.

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