When I was writing The Best Thing I Never Had I had to constantly remind myself that the university section of the story isn’t set in the ‘current day’, but rather during the academic year 2006-2007. It’s not even ten years ago, but, trust me, things were quite different back then. Only the very best and super newest mobile phones had could take pictures or connect to the internet. Fashion staples such as ballet pump flats and skinny jeans were only just starting to appear in shops (“These are so faddy,” I remember my housemate deriding the humble pump). Facebook was a much simpler beast, where conversations could only be seen by clicking “Wall to Wall” and albums could only hold a maximum of sixty photographs.
But some things never change. Here are five things that university students can always expect…
You won’t always do the required reading
It’s just not possible, especially on literature-heavy modules. You tell yourself that it’s okay, that you just won’t base any of your courseworks or answer any exam questions on that particular subject. And in the meantime, there’s always Wikipedia or SparkNotes to get you through the seminar, along with such classics as ‘nodding repeatedly in intense agreement to whatever is being said’ and ‘sitting as close to the seminar leader as possible, so you’re more in their blind spot and won’t be asked what you thought of the text’.
Sometimes you’ll have to choose between eating and drinking
You’ve got a grand total of £18 to last you the two weeks until the end of term, and it’s your housemate’s birthday before then. But then you realise that if you eat dinners that consist of cheap pasta mixed with value-brand baked beans for the next fourteen days you can afford a couple of bottles of cherry Lambrini for the big night’s pre-drinks (and from a distance it almost looks like you’re drinking rose wine, result!). If that’s not your thing then you can always club together with a mate and buy a bottle of own brand supermarket vodka. It will make your insides feel like they’re melting and your teeth feel weird the next day, but it will do the job on the night.
What’s yours is theirs
Be it a cupboard in the kitchen or a cupboard in your bedroom, its fair game. No ketchup? Surely one of my housemates will have some. Without milk for your cereal? Oh, my housemate has some, I’ll buy her another pint when I go to the shop later (but you won’t). I need a strapless bra to go with this top. Ah, my housemate’s about the same cup-size as me, let’s see what she’s got in her underwear drawer, etc etc. But as long as you give as good as you get, it’s quite a reasonable arrangement – and definitely a good reason to pick your second and third year housemates based on their collection of fabulous accessories.
You’re not going to keep up with all those societies
The Freshers’ Fayre is a highly bewildering time. You’re barely out of your parents’ car and suddenly there are all these strangers shouting at you, handing you condoms and small boxes of cereal and demanding that you join their amazing society: it’s the best, utmost fun and most sociable society on campus, don’t you know? And before you know it you’ve signed up for Ultimate Frisbee, Hummous Society, Society for Gentlemanly Pursuits, Lemon Fanta Society, Custard Wrestling et al (these are all genuine, active university societies by the way…). I wonder how many of these you’ll still be attending weekly by the start of your second year? The answer is: none.
You’re going to kiss somebody you shouldn’t have
This is especially true of the smaller universities. You might have a girl/boyfriend back home, but be momentarily tempted by a hottie in your halls. You might pull someone on the dance floor one night, only to discover the next day that it was your coursemate’s housemate’s very-recent-ex and boy, is she pissed off with you. You’ll fancy people your friends don’t like, and won’t be able to muster any interest in the people they insist are perfect for you. You’ll think you’ve got a casual ‘friends with benefits’ arrangement going on, only to discover, awkwardly, that the other party is actually madly in love with you when they add you as their girlfriend on Facebook. Basically, it’s safer to just keep your tongue in your own mouth – but where’s the fun in that?
If you’re a fan of Mhairi McFarlane’s You Had Me at Hello or David Nicholls’ One Day, then you will love THE BEST THING I NEVER HAD, the bestselling debut of Erin Lawless!
Miles and Nicky are getting married. Unfortunately, their wedding party is a tangle of ex-housemates, ex-friends and ex-lovers. So this wedding isn’t just a wedding, it’s a reunion. Can anything be salvaged from the past? And what really happened between them all, back at university?
Find out in this wonderful contemporary romance!