Harlequin Mills & Boon Medical Romance Novels

Being a student, then and now by Kate Hardy

kate hardy sept 2015 1200px
Things are a little bittersweet at the moment – our son is applying to university for next October, so at the moment we’re taking a look round the ones on his shortlist to help him decide on his final five choices. Something that looks great on paper might turn out to be totally wrong in the flesh, as we found at Manchester; he loved the course, but felt that the city was too big and noisy for him, and he’d be happier in a smaller city with the same kind of feel as the one where we live, i.e. lots of green places. His sister, on the other hand, loved the hustle and bustle and would’ve felt isolated in one of the rural campuses he really liked.

Last time I did the trek round universities was 32 years ago – though, back then, I was the student rather than the parent. It’s really interesting seeing the difference between student life then and now. Yesterday, various (very friendly and chatty) students showed us round the accommodation and their views were very diverse. I was quite amused by one girl who insisted that you absolutely MUST have your own bathroom – she’d have been horrified by one of the places we saw last month, where a house of 24 people shared one kitchen (and no dining room that I could see) and three bathrooms… (Actually, I was horrified by that, too – I thought that, with many universities using their facilities for conferences, student accommodation would be better than it was in my day, not worse!) Another said that it was better to go for the cheapest accommodation, because that extra £10 a week could go on food and made a real difference. (That bit definitely hasn’t changed, then!) And another pointed out how much nicer it was, living in ‘mixed’ accommodation – in my day, everything was segregated unless you were in private accommodation.

Nowadays, students expect wifi, warm rooms, at the bare minimum a washbasin in your room, and a good space to work. Back in my day, you put up with freezing cold rooms and nobody had a computer, let alone wifi. You queued for the bathroom (and the phone box) and hoped there would be enough hot water (or the phone would actually be working, or you’d have to walk half a mile to find the next one). We had weird sockets in our rooms that meant if you put a kettle or toaster on it would blow the fuses for the whole house. Microwaves? Well, they had been invented, but they were enormous and way outside a student budget. And making toast meant balancing a piece of bread on a rack over the heating ring on a hob and hoping that you didn’t burn your fingers when you turned the bread over…

But the bit I really loved was the suggestion that as soon as you find out what your accommodation is, you go on Facebook and join the group and get to ‘meet’ and make friends with the people in your flat/corridor before you arrive. In my day, you didn’t have a clue – you arrived, got homesick, and just hoped that you’d get on with the people you were sharing with. And if you were shy, it was really hard to go and knock on someone’s door to introduce yourself – would they think you were pushy or a pain? Nowadays, you know you’re leaving home to live with new friends, and I think that’s really going to help the new students settle in.

I’ve really enjoyed the departmental talks and tours, where we get to meet the academics and see the lab and find out more about how the course is structured.

It’s exciting seeing my eldest on the cusp of the next stage of his life, and being able to support him to follow his dreams. But at the same time I know I’m going to miss him horribly when he leaves.

Have you been doing the university open day treks, too? What were the biggest differences you noticed between life when you were your teenager’s age and how things are now?

51MvSdMSQfL._SX315_BO1,204,203,200_-1Kate’s latest release is a Cherish/Harlequin Romance – Falling for Mr December. (Next Medical is out in January! Be warned, this one is a Christmas weepie – and, having just dodged a cancer scare herself, Kate finds this one a tiny  bit close to home at the moment.) Photographer Sammy Thompson has learnt the hard way to protect herself. But meeting barrister Nick Kennedy at a charity calendar shoot makes Sammy wonder what she’s been missing out on. Sammy never dared dream of forever – until now…

You can find out more on Kate’s website (http://www.katehardy.com/) – or find her on Facebook




7 thoughts on “Being a student, then and now by Kate Hardy”

  1. We’re just back from doing a tour of John Moores in Liverpool. It was a real eye-opener for me since I didn’t go to university myself. (I withdrew my application after meeting my hubby and getting engaged) Seeing the accommodation and facilities put my mind at rest over a lot of things but the thought of son#1 leaving home terrifies me! I’m not what you would call a clingy mum but a) it’s a long way from Northern Ireland and b) he has a metabolic condition which we have always taken charge of. I know he needs the independence but next year is going to be a killer!

  2. Been there, done that and lived to tell the tale. There is a 6 year spread between my eldest and youngest, which meant there were differences in their tours, meet and greets. (Let alone the differences from my experience as the student.) I do think some of the changes are very helpful.

  3. OH fun, Kate! We did the same three years ago and are now starting with Boy Wonder, who, this time next year will be about to sit his final exams. The Lad has loved his three years in a res college and is now ready to move out into a share house situation as he starts the next phase 🙂 All the best to you and your son on this next big step and next year we can talk about parenting ‘young adults.’ Now THAT is a whole new phase 😉 Fiona xx

  4. It does sound very different from when we were students, Kate. Much of my time spend in the library was in an effort to keep warm 🙂 I’m sure you’ll find somewhere which suits your son really well and where he’ll be happy.

    BTW, remember the paternoster at Leicester? I’m sure that it was a make or break item for a lot of prospective students – I loved it and thought it was a very civilised way of drifting up to the top of a building. But after a rumoured incident when a couple of lads who were showing prospective students around accidentally-on-purpose went ‘over the top’ and reappeared upside down and apparently bloodied and bruised on way back down again, we got some very dire warnings. No mucking around on the paternoster in front of visitors!

  5. Not had to send any of my littlies off to uni yet! But I know it’s coming. My daughter(14) wants to be a vet, and none of the unis near us, do veterinary courses, so I know at some point she’ll have to move away and I can’t imagine how I’ll feel…
    Never went to uni myself, but I did do a degree with the Open University and seeing as my ‘halls’ as my own home, I can confirm the bedroom, bathroom and kitchen facilities were first class!

  6. In some ways I think life away at college today is very different, and in other ways much the same! I was lucky to have a large and excellent university in the city I grew up, so was able to live at home the first two years (not the fun/challenging experience of leaving home, but the only way I could afford it). But I’ve heard plenty of stories, and my own children’s experiences have been pretty similar. Both my daughter (now graduated) and son (currently in college) had really old and very basic accommodations in their freshman dorms. The elevators regularly ground to a halt in my daughter’s building, and hiking up to the 8th floor wasn’t fun! Neither was sharing a cement-wall bathroom with three sinks and three showers with an entire floor of girls (the building was co-ed, but not on the same floor). She’s a bit shy, and was lucky to meet her roommate on Facebook, as you mentioned, and it was like they were twins separated at birth, which was a huge help to both of them as they adjusted to college life.

    But what has changed are the new apartment buildings cropping up on campuses, which are beyond deluxe (to the point of ridiculous, IMO). Big kitchens, granite countertops, a private bath for each room, and a washer/dryer right outside the bedrooms. I don’t know if it’s the parents who want that for their kids, or what (I’m describing my son’s apartment from last year that he signed up for with friends, and was a slight hike to campus). This year, though, he’s right across the street from campus in a 100 year old house that’s been weirdly divided up and is small and spare – he’s back to roughing it more and is perfectly happy with that. 🙂

    Good luck to you! You’ll miss your son, but get used to it pretty fast. Then it’s all the more sweet when they come home on break to mess up your house all over again 🙂

  7. It is both exciting and scary when the kids go off to college. My living conditions were 4 girls to a bathroom. That was pretty good. I later lived off campus so things were even better then. I still return to my college regularly so my children grew up familiar with some of college life. They can tell you what I’m going to say when we pass a certain building or go in. Those times are fond ones for me.

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