Sat in neat rows in varying degrees of formal clothing the new intake of students glowed with the optimism of youth. Clasping brand new note pads adorned with butterflies, unicorns, swirling letters to form their names and graffiti style artistry – for those trying to look cool to their classes – the new batch of education students smiled expectantly. Day one of their training, a chance for some to get a better understanding of quite what lies ahead, for others a chance to become so scared that they are on the first train out of university Ville and off in search of the private sector and its perks.
These days almost always run exactly the same, the generic coffee time an opportunity to meet your peers, avoid the gaze of those you wish not to remember from fresher’s week and to check out each other’s aforementioned notepads. Incidentally, this early morning oasis before the onslaught of the day sounds all nice and lovely but almost always involves paying out the nose for a coffee or tea so substandard it’ll make you wince more than the dodgy budget alcohol that was your staple during the fresher’s week you are so desperate to forget.
Hundreds of eager faces then file into a large hall, Universities call them auditoriums to make them sound grand and like the 9k you are paying in tuition fees is well spent. They have cool, edgy names like The Incubus Building or in my own case The Stripe (it had a big stripe down the outside…). Seats are squeezed in side by side with those neat little flip over tables that make you feel like you’re in an episode of some cool American TV show or film where everyone randomly bursts into song and approaches the stage. Let’s be honest, nobody fits. The lack of leg room in those halls make Ryan Air’s offer look so grand you could perform River Dance and still have room to fit in a cosy 3 seater sofa.
Once everyone has got over the awkwardness of trying to squeeze both their legs and their new rucksack into said impossibly small space the room falls to a hush. Save those that will be quickly on the train texting their Mum and wondering what’s for tea. The lights may even dim in the room (gotta love that 9k) and the exciting buzzing of whispers rolls around the room as if The Beatles themselves are about to emerge. Alas it is not. Perched upon the stage smiling just eagerly as their most eager charges will be a troop of educators, ready to impart their wisdom to their young protégés.
‘Welcome, welcome’ the lead trooper booms, over the crackle of a faulty microphone system as in one voice friends turn to each other and whisper ‘surely they had all summer to fix that?’. With the pleasantries over the itinerary for the day is beamed in foot high letters (that can only be seen from certain seats) onto the screen. You can almost hear the noise as hundreds of seats of eyes leap down the timings looking for a) when lunch is and b)what time do we knock off. As the mutters start again, the disinterested tap away ‘Mum, I’ll be home by 4…..’