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Fresher's First Week: Day 3October 9th 1999.
I was awake and if I didn't get out of bed soon I would miss breakfast.
It was with these two thoughts in my head that I dragged myself out of bed since the amount of time which breakfast is served for is punishingly short. Even for those with 9 o'clock lectures getting to breakfast before a quarter to nine can prove impossible.
I can only express severe disappointment with the orange juice. It is served in tiny shot glasses, where one gulp will see you downing the lot. I hear that (other) students have taken to stealing the glasses because they suit (alcoholic) shots so well...
On the food side of things, I went for cereal and croissants. Now you can't really go wrong with cereal (well you can, but that's another story). However, the croissants proved to be a bit dry and hard and despite having hot chocolate to wash it down, I was unable to finish it all.
My next priority of the day was to finish registration and enrolment (which I had failed to do yesterday). Registration proved to be easy - after hanging around the computing department, I managed to find a lecturer who seemed surprised when I handed my module selection form in.
The next step was enrolment. I had spoken to a few people the day before and they had described non-existent queues and swift enrolment. As I turned the corner of the enrolment building, I saw a queue of people coming out of a marquee I knew I wasn't going to be that lucky.
However, as I turned another corner and entered the marquee I was shocked to see a theme park style queue snaking around the inside. The queue was effectively double what I had expected and was getting bigger all the time.
I was about halfway through the marquee when they told us to check our enrolment forms for errors. I felt this sinking feeling that I hadn't filled in my university phone number and since I didn't know it, there wasn't all that much I could do. Just before I entered the enrolment building my form was checked and a blue sticker was affixed to my university id card.
Now when it comes to enrolment, there are two types of student - fast-track and slow-track. Which you are depends on the number forms and receipts you happen to have on you. I had already sent the university one such form and thus didn't bother to bring it with me. So I was amazed to find myself put in the slow-track queue for having posted it to them weeks before. There's a moral in this but I'm not sure I know what it is.
What happened after that is a tad hazy. When I reached the front of the queue they asked if I had said form on me. When I said I had already posted it to them I was told to visit the finance department and a nasty yellow sticker was stuck on top of blue as if to say "You've failed". Whilst everyone else made their way into the blue sticker queue, I was the only one following the yellow stick(er) road.
I ended up in a large bright white room whereupon someone ushered me to a woman sitting at a computer. I explained my circumstances and she called over man in a suit. The suit thought for a bit and went on to tell me that all the forms which had been posted to the university were sitting in boxes. Since I had a receipt showing how much I had paid, they decided to let me through.
As I left the white room and queued for my loan cheque, I realised that I had beaten some fast-track students. More luck was ahead, as I was one of the few people whose loan had actually arrived. The final step was picking up my Student Union card, which thankfully passed without incident.
When I arrived a small queue had formed and there was a Student Union staff member checking that everything was running smoothly. As the person in front of me approached the booth, the member of staff said that we should call if we had any problems and walked downstairs.
As I went into the booth everything seemed fine although this photo booth was a bit different to the ones I've come across. It (hng) talks to you. Normally, you put your money in, strike various poses and receive four different goofy photos of yourself. In this booth, you put your money in slowly (otherwise it will jam), make various confusing choices from an endless series of menus whilst the booth patronises you (to the amusement of the people outside the booth). Finally, it produces four identically goofy overexposed photos...
...providing your photos actually come out of the booth. After waiting ten minutes for the photos to come out, the SU person had to be called back because all the photos had fallen down the inside of the machine. After taking one look at the photos, I hastily stuffed them into my pocket and hurried on.
The biggest shock of the day came from the post office. For whatever reason I presumed that TV licences weren't more than £11. When the woman behind the counter asked whether she could have £101 from me I (very) briefly looked into my wallet and replied that I would have to write a cheque.
Still recovering from shock, I staggered back to my room. As I pulled the photos out of my pocket a feeling of dread filled me. The photos had been completely mangled and were unusable. It would be months before I could "face" a photo booth again.