Freshers Week, Student Life 2020 and The Long Journey From ‘Grease’ to ‘GREECE’

I seem to have lost my blogging mojo at the moment which is a bit of a worry as I am due to return to college on Monday and a fair amount of writing is required for the course I’m enrolled on. Hopefully all will go well, but of course this time there will be no meeting up with fellow students, no hours spent in the library and no visits to the support team, who can very impressively advise on a myriad of issues relevant to the student body (especially mature students like myself who don’t find the technology quite as easy to navigate).

Like for many other colleges and universities this semester all of our lectures and tutorials will be online, so not the experience it should be at all, and for students entering higher education for the first time it must be a real disappointment. There is no denying many youngsters head to ‘Uni’ nowadays more for the social life than the actual academia, but that seems to have gone online as well. It’s over 40 years since I first experienced a Freshers Week but I still remember it fondly – Not sure if an online Freshers Week will go down in memory in quite the same way.

None of this in 2020
…. but more of this.

This year has certainly not turned out the way any of us expected it to, and you know what, I really don’t think we’re going to get back to anything resembling the old normal, ever. The upside is that much of the old normal was not good for us, so we’re happy to say goodbye to it (air pollution, long commutes now replaced by effective working from home) but the stuff that was good for us has also gone (joyous mass gatherings, planned trips, being able to hug our friends), and that’s what I miss most. For young people, nearly everything that made their lives worth living has been made more difficult or complicated and it can’t be lost on them that they are the ones who have been disproportionately affected by the crisis. Although not the wisest thing to do at the moment, can you blame them for wanting to hold illicit parties and gatherings. A euphemism used on breakfast news this morning was “intimate socialising” when discussing student Freshers Week. None of that hanky panky allowed this year I’m afraid!

Whenever I compare eras like this, I also like to compare the music of the day, and back in 1978 when I left home to embark on student life for the first time, the music charts were very different to the ones of today. For a start we had far less exposure to new music and only really had Radio One at our disposal. If one of your favourites was allocated a slot on that week’s TOTP, record sales were bound to rise exponentially selling a volume of “units” unheard of nowadays. Now and again the songs from popular films would make their way into the charts, and in the autumn of 1978 that’s exactly what happened after John Travolta and Olivia Newton-John sashayed their way across the big screen in that summer’s bit hit musical Grease. Oh yes, the week I started University, the song at the No. 1 spot was Summer Nights, at No. 5 was the title track Grease by Frankie Valli and at No. 9 was Sandy sung by broken-hearted T-Bird Danny Zuko.

Grease by Frankie Valli:

Looking at today’s chart, it paints a very different picture. Eight of the Top Ten songs is a collaboration, and I only recognise a couple of names in there. By some strange coincidence there is a song called GREECE (different kind from the one of 1978) by DJ Khaled (feat. Drake) but what comes across loud and clear from the video is that whatever the era, young people like to get together in mass gatherings, listen to music, and dance with each other. Not really been possible this summer at all.

So, ‘What’s It All About?’ – I will hopefully return to more entertaining blog posts soon, but by the time I tussle with the MyDay, Webex, Brightspace, MyStudentMail and MyStudentHub sites just added to my homepage, my brain might be addled. Let’s hope not.

As for the Freshers of 2020, to anyone who has been a student themselves, especially back in the days of generous maintenance grants and zero tuition fees, let’s spare a thought for them and what they are missing out on. Many youngsters we know are not even leaving home, so will be starting the new academic year in their school bedroom. Not quite the rite of passage it ought to be, but student life as we knew it has just become yet another casualty of 2020.

Until next time….

Grease Lyrics
(Song by Barry Gibb)

I solve my problems and I see the light
We got a lovin’ thing, we gotta feed it right
There ain’t no danger we can go too far
We start believing now that we can be who we are
Grease is the word

They think our love is just a growing pain
Why don’t they understand, it’s just a crying shame
Their lips are lying, only real is real
We stop the fight right now, we got to be what we feel
Grease is the word

(Grease is the word, is the word that you heard)
It’s got a groove, it’s got a meaning
Grease is the time, is the place, is the motion
Grease is the way we are feeling

(Song by Aubrey Graham/Calvin Tarvin/Elijah Maynard/Khaled Khaled/Ozan Yildirim/Peter Eddins)

Come with me, leave all of your things, yeah
We can stop at Gucci, stop at Louis V, yeah
Come with me, fly you out to Greece
Full speed, survoler Paris, yeah

Speedboats, baby, in Nikki Beach
Waves in my ears, smokin’ weed (Oui, oui)
Whippin’ through the sand in a Jeep (Oui, oui)
All because of what I did on beats, baby
Life’s sweet, baby, iced out, baby
You just go get ready, we go out, baby
Long time lookin’ for the bounce, yeah
OZ had the bounce, yeah

Author: Alyson

Whenever I hear an old song on the radio, I am immediately transported back to those days. I know I'm not alone here and want to record those memories for myself and for the people in them. 57 years ago the song "Alfie" was written by my favourite songwriting team, Bacharach and David. The opening line to that song was, "What's it all about?" and I'm hoping by writing this blog, I might find the answer to that question.

11 thoughts on “Freshers Week, Student Life 2020 and The Long Journey From ‘Grease’ to ‘GREECE’”

  1. I like the positivity! Glad that your mum is doing well in lockdown and that DD is adapting.

    Freshers’ Week will not be what it should be. Colleges and universities moving to online study is obviously not something I believe in, for obvious reasons, though we seem to have no choice. The problem is, I think certain people in senior management see online learning as the future even after the pandemic. As you say, we won’t ever go back…

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I was so excited about going to college two years ago and despite it becoming a bit difficult with my mum’s fall happening right at the start of the year, I still managed to head into college quite a bit and enjoyed the buzz/meeting my classmates. DD was there the same year, and Mr WIAA worked in another department, so a real family affair. I know this year will be entirely different, and I’m already struggling with the technology, but will give it my best shot. You are right though, for some time senior management have wanted more courses to go online and this has just speeded the whole thing up. I sound like a real oldie but I’m so glad my student experience first time around was in the late 70s/early 80s when we split our days between the library and the student bars, fitting in the odd class in one of the very impressive lecture theatres. Come the weekend our social life took place in the Student Union and amongst others I saw The Pretenders and UB40 perform there. The annual ball was a big event and long dresses were called for – Can’t see that happening online somehow or in a socially distanced manner – Puts a new slant on hosting a Masked Ball.

      Good luck with teaching this year – Hopefully you’ll be able to do a bit of both online and face-to-face teaching but the times are definitely a-changin’.


    1. It’s only one module (I’m a very part-time student) so not too many hours of online lectures but of course there is no end to the amount of hours you could spend on assignments, coursework and reading. I will fit it in I’m sure as I did in 18/19 and perhaps share some of my fellow students excellent work again (I will probably keep my own to myself!).

      Liked by 1 person

  2. So pleased you can go back to some form of study although it has to be so different this time – still, it sounds as if it will keep your brain well exercised in more ways than just doing the coursework, I’m sure you’ll cope admirably with the technology but I appreciate it’s a lot to get your head around! Please keep us updated with how it goes when you get the chance, and perhaps revisiting your creativity for the course will also help you find your blogging mojo.
    Your post is so thought-provoking and indeed there are so many reasons to be thankful for our own carefree student days, which I’m ashamed to say I rather squandered really; I always thought the saying “youth is wasted on the young” was very apt, but I’m starting to think it’s probably less so now.
    Lovely photo of your mum – and she still has a certain elegance about her which seems particularly evident with that generation of women!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hmm – I’ve just spent the last hour trying to find the link that should have taken me to the online Introduction Class, so missed it! This is going to be a whole lot more taxing than I thought. My main reason for enrolling two years ago was that I knew the college well because Mr WIAA worked there and loved how modern it was and the sheer buzz about the place. Sitting at home trying to navigate all these online tools is just not the same at all, but hey ho, how it’s going to be for most students this year. I remember this day 42 years ago well – I’d already met my neighbour in halls and had breakfast with her, Then I headed off to the campus where I met my best friend from school and we were shown round the ancient buildings (a photo was taken and we ended up in the local paper). Lunch at the Refectory then prep for the first of five big parties that were to be hosted that week. Yes, not quite how things will go in 2020.


  3. Nothing more to add, really. Just that I feel desperately sad about the whole sorry state of affairs. It’s one thing to have a global pandemic running amok, but then to have these c*nts in charge at the same time – give me strength.

    (Sorry, yes, this is the same comment as I left over at C’s! I like the photo of your mum. She’s got kind eyes.)

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Well, nothing like saying it like it is. My life hasn’t changed too much so I shouldn’t really be complaining but if I was 18 right now I would have just missed out on what could have been the best summer of my life.


  4. Education, entertainment, business, retail – all of these (and many other things I suspect) are probably changed forever. I hope you’re finding your way around the technology Alyson and that you’re settling back into your course.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Yes, I think you’re right and we’re all going to have to adapt but not easy in the short time frame we’ve had available. The technology is turning out to be ok actually but sad that we can’t meet up in person this time around. We ended up setting up a group on social media last time after meeting up during the induction week and I’m still in touch with some of them now. Can’t see that happening this time as people just Zooming in for the lectures and not always sharing their video so don’t even know what they look like. The upside is I’m now too busy to “doomsurf” on my phone and forced into reading non-pandemic-related stuff again, so that’s a bonus.

      Hope all well with you and the house sale.


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