September 21, 2012, by Malvika Johal

“Has anyone seen a box of kettles?”

Alumnus John Coffield (English Literature and Language 2011) reminisces about his freshers week experience in 2008.  


As the international section of this year’s intake of freshers buzz around the Portland Building like so many slightly lost-looking foreign bees, and with Sunday being D-Day for the landing of our home students (as a hall tutor I’m dreading their arrival), I’m reminded of my first week at Nottingham University.

Turning up at Ancaster Hall with what felt like seven million butterflies doing aerobatics in my stomach was the beginning of an incredible, fairly intoxicated and frankly bewildering week for my young and impressionable self. I was ridiculously excited, and determined to make instant friends and do lots of formerly forbidden things. Once all the boxes were half-un packed in my medium-sized room and my parents had finished cooing over the fact that I had a bath and a fridge, I was the grateful recipient of a gruff hug from Dad and a tearful hug from Mum (first child to fly the nest), and there I was. The first words anyone on my corridor heard from me form the title to this piece, and they largely set the tone for what Week One was about for me: going up to complete strangers and saying hi, and also tea. Lots of tea.

By the end of the first three days I had discovered that I liked Guinness, thanks largely to some Irish friends I made whom I now hold directly responsible for three years’ worth of silly student antics. Everything about Nottingham was better – or so it seemed – than where I had lived for the first 18 years of my life. The first night out was the first time I had ever been in a club the size of a warehouse for instance – I gawped in a wonderfully callow manner, before deciding that I was a student now and this was normal and I was far too cool to be impressed by a massive club. Then I went out back and saw the Dodgems, Waltzer and Ferris wheel, and unashamedly completely lost all my composure.
The next afternoon contained much head-holding and the aforementioned tea, and a lot of sitting on other people’s beds chatting. That was one thing that really stuck out for me; the sheer level to which you are constantly in and out of each other’s rooms as a fresher. There was no such thing as a private space and I loved it. The rest of the week passed in a hyperactive blur, and culminated with singing Take That’s ‘Never Forget’ VERY loudly in that most disgusting and beloved of student clubs – Ocean – before the inevitable 3am takeaway.

Finally Week One was over. I had been a good boy and called home once or twice, and swiftly perfected the art of carefully obscuring details whilst not sounding unrealistically saintly on the phone to my parents. I was still very excited, as for me the overriding impression of Week One is the sense of potential contained within it; it’s the gateway to the next stage of life, the first rev of the engine and the indrawn breath before the dive.

Posted in Remembering Nottingham