Daydreaming is one of life’s great pleasures: mid-afternoon’s random thoughts invade rational minds and manifest themselves into little pseudo-dreams; a figment of an otherwise under-stimulated imagination. It’s a delightful little form of escapism. I indulge in these random thoughts as if they were hot cakes with massive ‘EAT ME’ labels on them. Amongst other things I wonder what other people are thinking, dreaming of an insight into their dream. Here’s an insight into mine: Welcome to our Wonderland.
For a while now, possibly due to an extreme love of Lewis Carrol’s novel as a child, University life to me has seemed like a wonderland. Not only is it a sumptuous green kingdom of friendly squirrels and talking ducks (wait, is that just me?) but it’s a world devoid (almost, at least) of the normal laws of society: no adults, no curfews…no… rules?
Falling into this crazy land is like falling by your own aversion, headfirst into one hell of a rabbit hole: the whole experience is intriguing, confusing, and more than a little odd. You emerge in a land full of mad hatters and smiling Cheshire cats (Week one reps), who introduce you to the wonderful world of nights out in Nottingham and feed you all forms of alcohol – **beware of ‘Karni Cocktail’. Do not be fooled into thinking that ‘Pound a pint’ is an enticing label of promise that translates to ‘DRINK ME’. This stuff is poison: copious drinkage encourages phrases such as ‘I can’t get out at the door – I do wish I hadn’t drunk quite so much’ – but unlike Alice, you do not have the excuse that you have grown too much to fit out. The door has not moved. You are no larger. You simply cannot see the door any more. Luckily or not, the reprobate influences of freshers’ reps promptly disappear at freshers’ week’s denouement: their smiles remaining in the miscellaneous week-one-romp pictures, but their presence fading into insignificance.
At some time you will feel tiny and inadequate compared to the expanse of campus and its thousands of inhabitants; you somehow feel huge when you try to squeeze into last years’ trousers (probably due to too much ‘EAT ME’ toast in the early morning). Prepare to feel lost in this strange place because of the opposite arrows on signposts that appear to lead you to the same place; asking for directions reveals an entirely different path still. You end up running around with alarm bells going off in your head, ‘I’m late! I’m late!’ and arrive at your destination only to be stared at in a scrutinizing manner as if you were on trial for some atrocious crime.
After a while, you find you start to adapt to the lifestyle: Rules – gravitational, social, habitual, and for some people: moral….are bent and twisted. It’s hard to decipher what is normal and what is actually, completely mental. English roses painted orange by fake tan cease to phase you; you begin to differentiate ostensibly similar Tweedledees in their tracksuit bottoms and messy hair from their Tweedledums, and you are (hopefully) wise enough not to follow the pack of cards every single friday, and grant yourself an evening devoid of the institution that is Ocean.
The beauty of a daydream is that it’s an escape, an escape from what trivialities are upsetting your brain or the jargon your lecturer is spouting. University itself is a bit like a daydream: a way of staying young for a bit longer, a way of avoiding some of the responsibility that you might otherwise have to encounter. The daydream is important – it clarifies and orders some thoughts, organizes your mind, and allows you a precious moment of unadulterated childishness. What is university if not a daydream? A life from which you awake on a higher position than that you started with… but ultimately, you come away with a degree, a stepping stone onto even higher dreams and aspirations; it’s a momentary blip in your growing up, inundated with a lot of weirdness and confusion. University is an escape, a second childhood but at the same time a personal journey: no two people have the same daydream – everyone has different aspirations, and that’s what defines us as a Mad Hatter, or a White Rabbit, or a Cheshire cat.