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Do you feel overwhelmed by going from fields to concrete? Jordan Barker shares his experience of moving from his home in the country to the scary city that is Bristol. 

During my first few weeks of university, I soon realised that it was easier to just say ‘I’m from Reading.’

It’s the same for anyone who’s home is the arse-end of nowhere. When ‘Where you from?’ comes up in conversation, whacking out one of the Big Bois – places like Brighton, Manchester, Edinburgh – inevitably makes you sound interesting. Talk turns to the city’s buzzing nightlife, its impressive culture, the adorable accent.

‘Well, I actually come from Cholsey,’ I said to a fellow fresher once.

‘Cholsey?’ she replied. ‘Yeah, I think my dad has an ointment for that.’

And there it is. For some reason, bringing up the village you’re from is a social faux pas (urban slang for ‘a right balls up’), slaughtering the conversation like an innocent lamb. You might as well be pissing your britches, now that you’ve embarrassed yourself by daring to mention home. So, for the rest of university you’re forced to pretend you’re from a city. Or a large town – even if it’s Reading.

‘Cholsey?’ she replied. ‘Yeah, I think my dad has an ointment for that.’

Village erasure at its finest! And the more you keep up the lie, the more you begin to doubt the facts of your own life. Did I ever really grow up in Cholsey? Does the ‘chav hut’ (one of the village’s major landmarks) even exist? Did my aunt really run over that child’s tortoise last Christmas?

You might think this hysterical indignation spawns from bitterness. I’ll be the first to admit that life in the city is incredible. From what I’ve seen in films anyway. It’s full of dirt and grit, oozing with life and love, despair and death. Real characters with real stories. Yes, the city is a theatre, a grand stage on which the finest thespians perform. The village, on the other hand, is closer to a stage in the town hall, on which the most self-hating and talentless am-dram company “perform” their Christmas panto.

I don’t think I’m exaggerating when I say students from the countryside definitely feel alienated when they first arrive. You’re not just moving to a new home. The city changes your whole sense of space and time. Your senses go into overdrive, and your sense of self is cast into the nearest biffa bin. Suddenly, for the slack-jawed yokel, the world has become a much bigger place.

The village, on the other hand, is closer to a stage in the town hall, on which the most self-hating and talentless am-dram company “perform” their Christmas panto.

I spent my first week of university pining for expansive fields, clear night skies ablaze with starlight, even the putrid smell of cow shit. Everything was moving at break-neck speed and I yearned for the slow pace of rural living.

This was made worse by the fact that everyone seems to be from London. ‘Yah, I felt like I’ve downsized coming to Bristol.’ Do you really? And then there’s you, thinking your brain is going to explode from all the new shapes and colours you’re experiencing for the first time. ‘Indigo? Shit, I didn’t know they had such fancy colours in the Big City.’

Though you might feel out of sorts, it’s amazing how quickly you morph into a townie. Infection sets in, and suddenly your mind begins to alter. Ideas about tolerance and equality begin sprouting in your brain. There’s a sudden urge to be environmentally conscientious. And for first time, you start using cutlery to eat your food.

It’s important to remember where you’re from, nevertheless. Lying can only be so useful. I remember once lying to someone that I was from Reading. ‘Oh, really?’ they replied. ‘Where’s that then?’


Have any thoughts on your big move to a new city? Get in contact! We would love to hear from you!

 

 

 

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