Hello There, Frehser…
Dear Fresher, welcome to the University of York. The world-famous home of the likes of Heslington Hall and the James Bridge (depending on your definition of world). The safe haven for all disenfranchised ducks around the globe, and their poo. The medieval capital of England, and current capital of all culture in all of the world (for realz). The city that gave birth and raised the miraculous miracle of Willow; a restaurant transformed to a Mecca for the serial clubbers’ community.
If you think I’m lying, or exaggerating; you’re in for the ride of your life. That ride being the York Eye. Rumour has it, London is considering scrapping its own Eye, as a show of obedience and recognition of our superiority where futuristic ferris wheels are concerned. And we all know, rumours are always, always true.
All jokes aside, York is not the little town it looks like. If you feel like exploring, you may find yourself amongst medieval ruins, or hidden picturesque spice shops. Or you may even happen onto an amazing DJ event, if you dare stray away from YUSU nights.
What no one tells you, is that this is the time to get lost. The time to end up on the Millennium Bridge at 5am with your friends for no other reason apart from “Why not?” The time to go on a random train trip with nothing else but your phone and 10 quid.
Because, dear Fresher, this is the time when you’re free. You have no parents looking over your shoulder, or friends who judge you based on what you were like four years ago.
If you were ever thinking of making a new start, of reinventing yourself, this is the time. You can start living up to your own expectations of who you want to be. This is what university is about; acquiring the strength of character it takes not to make excuses for your choices or desires.
If you feel like being yourself, or making up your mind on who that person is, allow it.
On Dark Paths and Doing Maths
It’s four in the morning and you’ve just left Willow, or Revs, or Kuda, or whatever loud-music establishment you decided to honor on this particular night.
You are a bit tipsy, and tired, and your feet hurt from all the dancing, and it’s freezing. Because it’s always freezing in York.
You do not take a second to think of which route you will take to get home. All you care is that it’s the fastest possible. And so 10 minutes later you find yourself in a dark alley, that seemed very friendly in the morning. Except now it’s not friendly, it’s scary.
You walk as fast as you can, turning over your shoulder every now and then, afraid of the serial killer you are convinced is following you.
The next day, you wake up in the warmth of your bed, safe and sound, feeling blessed that you survived the experience.
We’ve all been there, and we’ve all regretted it. And we will all do it again in the face of the Odyssey that walking home after night out is. Usually, nothing goes wrong, York is a fairly safe city, after all. But sometimes something does happen, and you find out about it from this very paper. When this happens, you are relieved that it didn’t happen to you.
When walking home, you must do the maths. Think of the risks involved in walking past said frightening alley and weigh them against the benefit of getting home safe. If you think the risks are miniscule, then go ahead, walk through Mordor if you wish. It is, at the end of the day, your choice.
Whatever you decide, know that it is your responsibility to keep yourself safe, nobody else’s. As adults, it is assumed that we take care of ourselves, as we should be doing. It is not up to the university, neither to clean up the streets from crime, nor to assign us escorts. If you are not well informed of the risks, I’d suggest you get a taxi. Or stay home.