Sunday, 6 March 2011

I'd rather be a...

I'm currently in my second year at Manchester Metropolitan University, and for the most part I enjoy my course and like being part of MMU, but when it comes to actually telling people which university I'm at...well I tend to just avoid it.

A typical conversation will go something like this:

(After various other topics and general chit-chat)
Other student: So, what course are you doing?
Me: English & Creative Writing :)
Man Uni Student: Oh right, cool. I didn't know they did that here.
Me: Oh, erm, yeah, no, I'm at the Met.

After which I vomit a list of reasons why I chose to come to MMU, and that in fact I had the grades to go to Manchester Uni (2A's and 2B's, don't you know) and that we have Carol Ann Duffy and Simon Armitage, and we have The Manchester Writing School, and that we have practising poets and writers working with us, and that one of our senior lecturers used to work in the English department at Manchester University and said that it was a terrible establishment where they force you to recite Chaucer backwards and learn every 6th word of Beowulf whilst connected to some instrument of torture, or something like that...

I don't know why I react like this. Am I embarrassed about  my choice of university? Am I worried that people will think less of me? Well, partly, yes. There's only so many looks of quiet pity and polytechnic 'banter' I can take. You can see someone's opinion of you change within a second. And of course, it shouldn't be like this. I shouldn't have to feel inferior to anyone, but of course that's life. Ho ho. (That is not my laugh, just for the record :p )

My best friend (who is also on the same course) was having, let's say, an 'intelligent' conversation with someone from Manchester University and they actually said: 'I keep forgetting that you go to MMU.'

He was, of course,  referring to the fact that she was too clever to go to such a terrible low brow establishment such as the Metropolitan. Heaven forbid that some of us actually CHOSE to go here, over the amazing 'red-brick' institution that is Manchester University. (Actually the term 'red-brick' was previously used as a derogatory term, meaning that the university was relatively new and was made of the usual building material as opposed to the stone used at Oxford and Cambridge - little fact for you there...) Which kind of goes to show that there will always be someone above and below you. Always.

Well someone's a bit bitter aren't they, I hear you cry. This is something that I've thought about. Deep down am I just jealous that I didn't decide to apply to such an established university? I guess that every time I've had to explain myself to the 800th person who's asked me 'why MMU?', I've wondered what it would have been like if I did go to the other university. How different would things be? Would I have the same reaction to those people that I met that went to the Met? 

I'm almost ashamed to admit it, but yes, I think I would. Everyone makes judgements based on your appearance, your accent, your job, your education, your salary. Plus a whole bunch of other labels, indicators and tags. You can't deny it. We need to put people in some sort of order and compartmentalise them, to try and make sense of the world.

So what's my point?

I guess I could put in some poignant lines about not making assumptions of people, and challenging stereotypes, but instead I'm going to embrace everything that makes up the characteristics of a polytechnic student and shout:

I'd rather be a poly than a w****r.

(for now)


  1. Ooh wow you do English & Creative Writing! How cool?!

    I'm in my final year of studying English, but I have lots of creative modules. In the process of applying for a Masters in Creative Writing at the moment. xx

  2. I know exactly what you mean!! I don't go to the worlds best uni (I could have gone to a better one with my grades) but chose to go to one which offered a better course and better job prospects.

    When I meet people from other unis (for example met someone from Cambridge on a vacation scheme) and they ask why I would want to go there I too seem to emit verbal diahorra about my choice! Anyway, whos laughing now as I have a job lined up for when I have finished and they don't! So now when people ask I just look smug lol! xx


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