Being a student in 2019 is a bit of a weird one. We've been officially called out as "less hedonistic" than our millennial counterparts, yet, as young people, we still have an in-built urge to piss away the degree we're paying thousands of pounds to study at the pub every night.
So, to see whether The Student Experience in the age of James Charles is really any different to that of those who soundtracked their pre-drinks with the Caspa and Rusko fabric mix, here's every checkpoint you'll pass on the road to that weird, empty feeling of morning-after guilt.
1) Alright, What's the Plan Tonight Then
This is, ultimately, always a waste of up to an hour-and-a-half, because you are a tiny miniature-adult who has not yet learned the value of staying in. Look, everyone's going to watch the football at the pub; and yes, you neither deserve nor want a night at the pub watching football, but you're a student! Paint the town red with very nearly flat lager in a plastic cup while you're young and beautiful! Take the discipline and dexterity of mind that got you those very marginally above-average A-Levels and use it to justify going out and spending a minimum of £8 and a maximum of your whole overdraft, even though all you've actually done today is bought some dishwasher salt and watched a whole season of Made in Chelsea! You are alive!
It would also probably be a good idea to eat some actual nutritious food at this point, wouldn't it, to avoid consuming some alarmingly unhygienic chicken at breakneck speed come 2AM. But you don't do that. You never do that.
2) Low-Level Preliminary Alcohol Consumption
Your finances are in a bit of a dire state, so it's off to the shop to buy some questionably cheap alcohol alongside what appears to be the entirety of your city's student population, out in their pyjamas with a strict mental budget of "£4 – at a push £4.50". Those who unashamedly spend £20 on pre-drinks are not included under the student umbrella, because they are essentially on a very vaguely educational all-expenses-paid holiday.
3) Right, I'm Actually Ready, When Are We Going, Is Anyone Actually Going, Oh They've Left Already, Great, Perfect, I'll Just Meet Them There, That Sounds Like an Easy and Fun Process
It's hard, isn't it, to keep reminding yourself that these are the best years, the best moments of your life, as you gently but firmly elbow your way to the bar. Let it sink in: you are in the Absolute Prime Of Your Existence, yet you are trying not to cry too visibly as you wait for your Fosters.
4) I Have Already Made Eye Contact with Far Too Many People in This Pub and We Haven’t Even Found a Table Large Enough to Seat Such an Awkwardly Numbered Group of People Yet
Another fun thing about being a student is that the bulk of the accommodation for any given uni is generally in one part of town – one Sainsbury’s Local between the many thousands of you; a singular McDonald's filled with the most self-pitying 20-year-olds in the country every Sunday morning – meaning that on any given evening at the pub you are likely to see:
– The girl you sat next to in Chemistry for two years, now fully clad in Netball gear, with an accompanying posse of perfectly highlighted blonde girls, greeting you with possibly the most awkward half-smile in recorded history!
– Up to eight separate Tinder matches!
– Someone you were in halls with only last year, who was really lovely, and they’re showing genuine and pure interest in what you're up to now – but shit, what was their name again? You distinctly remember them having an ever-present girlfriend who was just sort of There, but nope: name's gone forever!
And now you have to walk through a minefield of them, all while trying to hold onto four pints!
5) Hooray! We Finally Found a Fucking Table!
Finally! Peak pub enjoyment has been achieved, and the only thing hindering your ability to have a mildly tipsy catch-up with everyone is the screaming, topless rugby lads in the corner. Except— what's that voice you hear, slowly but surely increasing in volume, emanating from the Reebok Classics man-child in the corner of the table?
"My mate," he says, a filter hanging from his lip. "My mate's putting on a speed garage night, and it. Is going. To be bless." Questionable words from Toby, here. You think you might have been to a night described by him as "bless" before, and distinctly recall it being "not bless". But everyone's here, we're all feeling jolly. Yeah, actually, it might be a laugh. Send me the ticket link, cheers.
At this point, you head home instead of getting another drink, dutifully put some chips in the oven and then eat those chips in bed instead of— oh no, too late! You've spent £6 to watch Rory from Tunbridge Wells DJ speed garage for the next six hours!
6) Pre-Club Deliberation
At this point, everyone will simultaneously need to do eight separate things before being ready to go Out-Out ("I need change for the bus," "Let me just run back and change my trainers," "Just going to quickly call my nan, despite being one shot off piss-myself drunk").
This nether-zone could last anywhere from five minutes to two hours, almost certainly elongated by someone suggesting picking up, before you find yourself lurking in a McDonald's car park at 1AM, waiting for a grey Astra "with a 52 numberplate". Please try to avoid being the dickhead who initiates this ritual.
7) I Am Not Drunk Enough to Be This Sweaty
You make it into the club, and very quickly remember that the legal concept of a club being "at capacity" means nothing to student promoters. Look at everyone pouring in, falling down the stairs and making you spill your £4 vodka-coke all over yourself. As a group, you collectively make it through one song (almost certainly "Lady (Hear Me Tonight)" by Modjo, regardless of the advertised genre of the event) before someone wants a cigarette and you heave back up the stairs.
8) Yeah I Smoke, No I Can't Roll, Could You Do It for Me
Expect four to five requests for Rizla and filters every ten minutes, each one of them edging you incrementally further away from the great ethereal vibe. At this point, take stock. Stand in the cold, watch the beauty of the rays of streetlight cutting through the drizzle, and silently and desperately wish for a warmer jacket or, to be honest, a duvet and a bed. You triumphantly decided not to partake in any of that drug business (so brave! so heroic!) and, though the view is pretty from the moral high ground, you are feeling slightly too sober to ram yourself back into the glorified basement laundry room and gingerly dance to what appears to be a night of Heart FM Classics.
Are you— are you actually going home? Did you really spend £6 (plus booking fee) on Skiddle to listen to "Lady (Hear Me Tonight)" played once through towering bass-heavy speakers? Absolutely, yes. You did.
But what, honestly, is being a student about, if not wasting small amounts of disposable income on pre-prepared Fun and then, on deciding that Fun isn't actually for you, spending the best £2 of your life on chips and gravy with a profoundly jarring texture, half-eating it and throwing it on the floor by your bed to deal with in the morning? We live one life and we have to live it well. The decisions we make are as important as the decisions we unmake. A minute in bed with some gravy in your belly is worth an hour in a nightclub. This night was a disaster before you even left the house. Not Every Night Has To Be Good. Make your peace with that fact.