It’s that time of year again when Freshers everywhere are packing up and shipping out - get ready for three or four years at university.
It’s a milestone in the life of anyone who decides to continue their studies following A Levels - and for many it’s a first taste at freedom - away from home and the eagle eye of their parents.
I’ve seen a few pictures doing the rounds - young ones (It saddens me to no longer class myself in the same category) packing up their duvets and pillows, their clothes, their mementoes of home and getting ready to set off on the next stage of their life.
And then I see them packing their laptops and their Ipads, their smartphones, their fancy dan MP3 players and their printers and wifi dooberry wotsits and I think - students of today, you don’t know you are living!
I see pictures of halls of residence - some of them nicer than my actual full time home with en suite facilities and I think back to my arrival at my own Halls - 21 years ago.
I was housed in the aptly named H Block of the Halls of Residence at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown. I was lured, of course, with having my very own room for the first time in my life - but it was far from the luxury students these days experience.
The room was cell like - breeze block walls, minimal furnishings and certainly nothing as fancy as ensuite facilities. If you needed a wee in the middle of the night you rushed out down the hall to the communal facility - hoping that none of the cool kids saw your fleecy jim-jams.
There were no computers, no ipads and no smart phones. A month or two into the year I bought a (black and white) TV which I couldn’t get a signal on due to the location of my cell/room.
There was one girl in our block who could get a fuzzy signal on her TV and eight of us would crowd in at night to watch ‘Neighbours or ‘Coronation Street.’
Phone calls home involved queueing at a pay phone, hours were spent hand writing letters to friends and essays to hand in. Research was done primarily using actual books in an actual library.
The only way to get results or talk to a tutor was by physically travelling to your place of study.
But would I change it? Probably not. It was, as us older ones say, character building.