Going to university as a mature student is ever so slightly different – I had concerns before I started that I wouldn’t make any friends or that I’d be known as ‘that weird old guy’, but in spite of these worries, at the grand old age of 24 (3 years ago now) I came to university and my fears were allayed. More or less…
Making friends came pretty naturally, everyone is new and worried they won’t make friends – if people do refer to me as ‘that weird old guy’ they’re nice enough to do it so quietly that I don’t hear.
On the other hand, these friends don’t always understand that in your mid-20s the idea of going out and dancing in a noisy, sticky box until 3 in the morning has lost most (if not all) of its appeal. Especially when Netflix is a thing that exists.
However, on the odd occasion that they manage to drag you out, you automatically become the responsible one who has to ensure no one loses their bag, gets into a fight or texts their ex. You’ll be the one negotiating with the bouncer, apologising profusely and making sure everyone makes it into bed in one piece.
These new friends also take great joy in revealing your age to people who don’t yet know. A chorus of “Guess how old he is! Go on! I bet you won’t get it! Guess!” follows me around pretty much anywhere I go.
I’ve also become known (by both students and lecturers) as the one who always has something to say in seminars. Whether it’s the life experience or the conscious effort I made to come to uni, I probably talk more than everyone else combined.
It can be tough to bond with people over normal things like music – “Nirvana? Blur? The Prodigy? Oh right, you weren’t born…”
But they can be impressed by the simplest things. The ability to cook pasta, use a washing machine or programming the central heating can lead to you being looked at like some kind of domestic wizard.
You’ll forever be the person people call when something breaks, when people want real food but don’t have enough money to eat out, or when they need a screwdriver. Seriously, why does no one ever have a screwdriver…
But on the whole, people don’t really care. It’s easy to be self-involved and imagine you and your differences are at the forefront of everyone’s mind. But on the whole, people are decent and too focused on their own lives to notice if you’re a little bit older or different to them in some other way.