Comment: North Londoners headed for university may be in for some surprises

Everyone seems a bit odd at the start of university so don't be shy of your idiosyncracies

Everyone seems a bit odd at the start of university so don't be shy of your idiosyncracies - Credit: Getty Images

Apparently not all 19 year olds consider artichokes a store cupboard basic, as a new generation of north London students is about to discover.

I don’t remember much about my first days at university – they were over a decade ago and passed in a haze caused by swallowing many obligatory triples-for-singles vodkas and huge amounts of pride by forcing myself to join in on things like pub crawls, school disco nights and traffic light parties.

In amongst the naffness, I do remember some things about those days as a north London outcast for the first time (I had a gap year but it was in Paris so I don’t think it counts towards my down to earth quotient).

I remember unpacking in the shared kitchen and, in an experience shared exactly by at least one other north London friend, realising that nobody had brought the same store cupboard ‘essentials’ as me – apparently not all 19-year-olds consider artichoke hearts a basic.

I also discovered all sorts of exotic new ingredients; hearing one of my housemates talk about dinner, I was aghast to hear the word ‘faggot’ coming out of her mouth.

It took some questioning to figure out that it was ok, from a linguistic perspective. I’m still not convinced it is from a culinary one.

My corridor mates in halls were also a little bemused by my crockery – a jester set of patterned vintage plates and bowls that I’d collected, rather than the set of white supermarket basics that seemed to be the norm.

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For some reason my mum, who was worried I wouldn’t make friends if I didn’t have a pair of jeans (I favoured a kind of grungey vintage princess look at the time) didn’t seem to think the floral plates and expensive deli foods would seem weird.

But actually, although I have since learned that they did seem pretty odd to some of my future friends, the fact was that everybody found everyone else equally strange compared to what they were used to at home.

With this in mind, we’ve asked a leading etiquette expert how she would advise this year’s freshers to approach moving into a student home outside London for the first time.

How to make friends and avoid alienating people without losing your own identity can be tricky when combined with turbulent teenage emotions and cheap booze but we found a little forthrightness and consideration goes a long way.

And don’t be embarrassed by the artichoke hearts – your flatmates might enjoy the change from pasta with jar pesto.