Looking at a page for Fresher’s to meet new people before actually arriving at Lancaster Uni, I saw someone say that they were joining Bowland college, which they had heard “is a bit of a ghetto”. (Someone also said that they thought men studying English Language was rare, but that’s another argument entirely.) There was some discussion from non-Bowlanders about how it is, in fact, a ghetto, although it isn’t as bad as Pendle ghetto. Ha ha ha.
I have a couple of issues with this. First off, that Bowland being a ghetto is a bad thing. Second, that Pendle ghetto is in fact a real place, and is worse than Bowland.
Let me get this perfectly straight: Bowland is cheap, cheap, cheap, in physical price and look and feel. It is the lowest of the low of colleges. Pendle ghetto ‘aint got nothing on Bowland. I’ve been to Pendle ghetto. It’s lovely. So don’t buy into that crap.
But Bowland is also great. And you should not be scared of it.
I’m gonna start off with the bad parts, based on my year’s experience living in Ash House, notorious for being the crappiest accomodation on campus. But don’t let them scare you off – it gets better if you keep going.
1. It’s Bowland College
On campus, Bowland is predjudiced against pretty harshly. With the opulent (in comparison) County college only a few minutes walk away, it’s hard not to be a little dismayed when your eyes fall upon the peeling paint, the ’60s architecture and the fact that the entire college appears to be built around the bins. Ash House is the worst reminder of this – if your room looks out over to the Chaplaincy Centre (the campus church, in short), then you’ll wake up every morning to the sight of rotting food and empty pizza boxes strewn about the place where drunkards couldn’t be bothered to dispose of the rubbish properly.
This isn’t to say other colleges don’t get stick as well; the aforementioned Pendle ghetto is evidence enough of that, and the usual response to “where the fuck is Grizedale/Fylde” from anyone who isn’t a member of those colleges is a simple shrug. And don’t get me started on Cartmel. Bunch of wankers, as legend tells. But any college with an accomodation famed for the myth that every occupant pisses in their sinks (if you live in Ash House, then get used to hearing that one) is definitely going to be considered the lowest on the food chain.
2. It’s cheap for a reason
Well it used to be really cheap, but now I guess it’s just cheap-er than everywhere else.
Exhibit A: my room from Ash House.
Note the salmon pink walls. Note the uncovered strip light directly above my pillow. Note the sink peeking out from behind that wall. Behind this is a desk, a chair, a bookshelf and a wardrobe. There is just (JUST!) enough room to fit a single mattress on the floor, should you have a friend over, or find it impossible to share a bed with your partner.
It doesn’t look all that great, does it? But at least it’s cheap.
3. You will be sharing with lots of people
The largest number of people you share a kitchen with in Pendle ghetto is eight. Eight people is not a lot of people.
The largest number of people you share a kitchen with in Ash House is twenty six. Yes. Twenty six people, all together in one medium sized kitchen, with two cookers, two sinks (in theory, anyway, as our kitchen only had one sink between twenty six people), four fridges and two freezers. There is, in theory, enough cupboard space for everyone, but in actuality, some prick will take up three cupboards so they can individually place their plates and cups and take up as much of the kitchen as possible.
And of course, put enough people together in close proximity and eventually people will fall out. Arguments will be had. Water will be thrown in people’s faces. Passive aggressive notes will be left on fridges, toilet doors and under your own door. You will spend more time treading carefully around everyone else’s pet peeves than the mess they leave lying around.
I spent a year in what my friends described as a multi-storey car park, and I will be returning to it again this year. Would I rather live elsewhere? Yes. But not because I hate Ash House. I love that damn place. And here’s why.
1. It’s cheap
Not gonna lie, I get a fair amount of loan. If I really wanted to, I could move into Cartmel and live in my own little box with my own little bathroom and have my own little world, and still be able to eat each week.
But in Bowland, I can eat like a king, go out when I like, and buy video games all the damn time. Socialising will be your biggest expenditure, and if you’re one of those people who doesn’t like to go jumping into their overdraft within a week, then you’ll be waiting to save money somewhere. Why not on your accomodation? If you’re drunk, you won’t even care what your room looks like!
2. You’re basically guaranteed to make friends
In Ash House you’re on a floor of fifty two people. Yes. Fifty two. That’s the number of cards in a standard deck. Odds are, if you can’t make a single friend from a group of fifty one other people, then you’re pretty much fucked anyway, and no college is going to change that.
The people you meet will also come from all over the place. Not everyone lives in Bowland because they can’t afford anywhere else. Some, like me, will be living there because they like saving money. Others will be there because they want to mingle with more people. Some knobhead will be there so he can hang out with poor people as some sort of bizarre life exchange. You might be that person. Don’t tell people that.
With so many people on one floor, you’ll be close by and privy to every drama that goes down, from who’s stealing the food to who’s banging who, and all the stuff inbetween. You’ll see these people on a day-to-day basis, either in the kitchen making lunch or just in the corridors, and you’ll get chatting to them because, hey, what else is there to do? Some people you won’t get on with, others you’ll have nothing in common with. But you will more than likely find several people you really hit it off with. The odds are in your favour.
3. If you can survive Bowland, you can survive anything
Your food will be stolen. Your showers will end up filled with crap. You will be freezing in winter and boiling in summer. Your extractor fan will fall out of the wall when you turn it on and nearly kill you. Your next door neighbour will have loud sex at all times during the day. Your other neighbour will sing Adele at the top of their voice at 2am the night before you have an exam. The list goes on.
These happen everywhere.
Now imagine they’re happening in Ash House.
If you can survive all that, and still raise your head up and say “Bowland ’til I die”, then you can do anything in life.
With these in mind, I would just like to offer a few tips to help you make it through your first year living in Bowland.
1. Go to County Bar
Bowland Bar sucks. It’s too small, it’s too quiet, and it’s always playing sport on the TV. County Bar, however, is really big, really friendly, and has one of the greatest music collections of all the bars on campus. And it’s probably even closer to you than Bowland Bar.
No one knows which college you’re from after Freshers Week anyway, and no one really cares to begin with, unless there’s a sport event on or they need something to laugh at you for. So just wander into County Bar instead.
2. Don’t go into the kitchen between 8am and 9am
You’ll probably bump into a cleaner. The cleaners will hate you, regardless of how much mess you’ve personally made. Save yourself the bother, and try to avoid them where possible.
3. Make a sign for your door
You’re drunk. It’s 3am. You’re on a hall with fifty one other people. No fucking way will you remember your room number.
Make a sign with your name on it and blu-tack it to your door. That way, everyone else knows where to find you, and you can stumble into the right room after a night out and save yourself some embarrasment.
4. Be nice to the porters
The Bowland porters two years ago were really nice peeps. Hell, it’s probably the same group now. If you get enough post, they’ll eventually learn your face, and then you don’t need to take your library card to pick up parcels. That’s a serious bonus.
So don’t piss them off. If they’re doing their rounds and your music is way up, apologise and turn it down. Don’t start arguing with them about the fact you’re throwing a party you didn’t get permission for. They’re hard working people who have to put up with knobheads on a daily basis, so save them some time and don’t be one of those knobheads.
5. If you’re studying business, consider changing colleges
The Business Centre is fucking ages away. Move to Pendle. Save yourself some time.
And that’s all there is to it! Don’t be a dick and don’t worry. Bowland College is one of the nicest colleges on campus, and it’ll prepare you for the horrors of real life in a way that gives you somewhere to hide away from it all. If you’ve got any problems, never hesitate to call a porter or talk to the Residence Officer or whatever, they’re all lovely and they don’t bite.
And if things get really desperate, I’ll be on D floor, crying myself to sleep.
(NOTE: This article was intended to be taken as a light-hearted, sarcastic account of my life in Ash House. If you’re now reading this thinking “Oh GOD what have I done uni is going to be awful” then I’m deeply sorry, and that honestly wasn’t my intention. You’ll have a great time, and I’m not just saying that to make you feel better. The first year of uni was one of the greatest years of my life, and I would honestly rewind time and do it all over again. I look forward to meeting some of the Freshers who found this post in about a month’s time! (I’m not Freshers repping, don’t worry – they only let cheery, positive people do that job))