It is sudden and brutal, but nevertheless inevitable: the wrath of two years worth of Ocean Fridays hits my system like a ton of bricks. I lurch dangerously. The complaint “We’re getting so old” trills in my ears. This is a defining moment. As I move to a quiet spot to contemplate my own mortality, a map is thrust unceremoniously in my face. “Excuse me, do you know where the Portland building is?” For a third year accustomed to dealing with the monotone, the melodious voice coming my way is a tad unsettling. Then, the dewy complexion and angelic features swim ominously into sight, and it dawns on me that this wide-eyed creature is, in fact, in the bloom of fresherhood. An alien sensation starts to spread its venomous tentacles to my very fingertips. In that fleeting moment, I am consumed by the feelings of bitterness and nostalgia that I ought to be experiencing in middle age. “Oh, it’s miles away,” I tell the Fresher in a rash and unadvised move, “right on the other side of campus.” I then watch with relish as the sprightly creature skips into the distance.
Before you think me a melting pot of half-baked hatred, it is essential that we observe the science behind student evolution. Within the campus hemisphere, time passes at an unprecedented rate. The friendships fostered and experiences cultivated over the standard three year period undergo such rapid acceleration, that they no longer occur in real time. Therefore, one year spent on campus roughly equates ten years worth of development in the outside world. Putting technical terms aside for a moment, imagine stepping through the musty recesses of the wardrobe to Narnia, leaving friends and family behind for adventures in distant lands. Upon returning years later, nothing much has changed. When I scowl at a fresher, therefore, it would be unfair to accuse me of suffering from a severely premature bout of middle-age anxiety. If we observe the facts of the matter, in university years I am twenty years senior to them. So please forgive me for my sentimentality.
Over time, I have developed radar vision for detecting the fresher. The following pointers can therefore act as a useful guide for quelling any uncertainty over its identity:
• The fresher hunts in packs. It will develop a strong attachment to its community of fellow freshers, pledging its undying allegiance by vocal appreciation and visual displays of camaraderie. This includes chanting, various states of undress and the adoption of many forms of disguise.
• The fresher worships authority and often gathers with other freshers around the red karni jumper. The fresher will prove its commitment to the red karni jumper by drinking lethal and potentially deadly concoctions from a black bin.
• The fresher has a habit of covering itself in permanent marker with expletives and drawings of genitalia.
• The best place to spot a fresher is in its most natural habitat: Ocean. Here, the fresher can be seen in states of semi-fornication on the dance floor.
• The fresher copulates at an alarming rate. As dawn sets in, it can often be sighted returning home from one of its many conquests.
• The fresher suffers from speech reduplication. It can frequently be heard asking, “What hall are you in what course do you do where are you from?”
• The fresher will issue forth stock phrases such as “last night was fully mental” – as if nobody could ever be as much of a “mental lash-head” as they are.
• If you have come into contact with a fresher, it will add you on facebook. It will then keep you informed of its social calendar by leaving catchy status updates, such as “going for a dip in the big O tonight” and “heading for a CRISIS.”
• The fresher survives on hidden energy reserves. This explains their uncanny ability to function having had five consecutive nights out in a row, which would kill off any mere mortal.
As it infiltrates the campus environment, the fresher becomes an endangered species. It is only a matter of time before the sweet bloom of fresherhood fades …