University life can be so overwhelming and frantic that sometimes it is easy to forget that you have another totally isolated, ‘parallel’ life that co-exists.
Separate from relentless partying, flowing banter, and constantly feeling hungover, over-tired and hungry, is that other world: home life.
This is a different ball game altogether. A change of mind-set is required to successfully negotiate completely different everyday encounters. Behaviour and conversation-topics that would be embraced and lapped-up at uni, become taboo and inappropriate in front of parents and other family members.
Discussions over last-night’s drunken antics, banterous, witty, facetious comments are replaced with mundane dinner conversations regarding the recycling, The X Factor, and Dad’s train that got delayed by five minutes this morning. Riveting.
Instead of constantly meeting potential friends and sexual partners, you are treated to visits from long-lost family members, in which you are inevitably reminded how much you have grown, as if you had forgotten the natural process of human growth.
Within hours of arriving home for the summer, you delve into the ‘honeymoon period’ where you catch up with friends and family you haven’t seen in yonks. This is a very exciting, and sometimes emotional time, albeit abrupt. After all, there is only so much about university life you can share with family members without risking to indulge them in details only fit for the ears of someone your age.
You then begin to realise the sheer size of the task on your hands: you have literally nothing to do for the next three months. Of course, you failed to line up any sort of work experience, internship, or paid job. “I’ll do it tomorrow, Mum!” You never did.
It is then that you start to seriously fear for your sanity over the summer. After all, death-by-boredom is more common that you would think.
Your freedom and personal enjoyment seems extremely limited – you can no longer sleep as late as you like, come back as drunk as you like, at whatever time you like, with whoever you like, or play your music as loud as you like.
Living in a house of four does not leave a whole lot of time to be alone for some, er, ‘personal reflection’. There are only so many scowls and snide comments your mum can give you before you finally turn off the PS3 and empty the dishwasher.
Of course, there are some advantages of being home for the summer. The cleaner, dad’s credit card, improved phone signal and the warmth and love of your nearest and dearest spring to mind.
Soon enough, you learn to love (tolerate) the obsessive humming sound your dad makes, the constant smell of cooking in the kitchen, and the unnecessarily loud phone conversations your sister has with god-knows-who.
You embrace your endless free time. You set self-improvement goals for the summer. Join a gym. Explore your city. Study the entire works of Charles Dickens. Learn Mandarin. Become a world-renowned pick-up artist. Whatever.
Eventually, you actually start to enjoy the thought of having the entire summer to do whatever you want, with no pressing responsibilities.
That is until you get a bit sick of everything and everyone after just days back home. You pine for the freedom to do what you want, when you want, and how you want – without curfews, limits, and check-up texts from the rents.
Only 3 months, 13 weeks, 90 days, 2191 hours, 131487 minutes to go….