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Welcome to the world of the Vincent D'Onofrio obsessed - and a bit of real life thrown in.

Monday, May 06, 2013

Education US and UK Style

Time after time I watch aghast as TV shows show US university life. Women students demeaning themselves on "spring break", or even getting murdered. "Campus police" dealing with serious crimes without reference to the real police. Hazing rituals to gain entry to sororities and fraternities.

What planet is this? I can't speak for Oxford and Cambridge with their strange clubs (like the Bullingdon Club that our glorious leaders Cameron and Osborne graced with their illustrious presence and recruit those who will continue to "lead" us in future) but British universities otherwise don't have these weird anachronisms.

Anyone who's ever watched Morse knows that the real police handle crimes even in Oxford colleges. There is no such thing as spring break. Instead we have the Easter vacation, when we either go home for a month to study or relax, or work to earn much-needed funds.

As for sororities and fraternities, there is no such thing. Some universities are collegiate, and these colleges create alliances and loyalties. But this "pledging" - unless, as I say, some Oxbridge colleges have such ancient, occult and arcane practices that the outside pleb does not get to hear about - is thankfully absent from our places of higher education.

Now Freshers week...that's another matter. How to introduce new students to life away from home and drown their homesickness in pools of alcohol and vomit. You can sign up for clubs - sports, political, theatrical, apathy (no one bothers to turn up for meetings). There are outings to places where you can get blotto, often with benefit of free beer tickets.

The drinking games help - Bunnies and Fizzbuzz have always been popular. For those unfamiliar, in Bunnies, the Bunny Master waggled fingers either side of the head like bunny ears, and the person either side waggles the hand nearest the Master, who then points across the circle where the person they point at and their neighbours repeat the performance. Any mistake is subject to forfeit, usually a substantial swig of booze. Hence, the longer the game goes on, the drinker the players get, the more mistakes they make and the more hilarity is caused.

Fizzbuzz is an altogether more intellectual game. The players go round the circle counting, replacing every number with 5 in, or multiple of 5, with Fizz, and ditto 7 with Buzz. Numbers containing or being multiples of both are replaced with Fizzbuzz. The Master can reverse the order, just to make matters more complicated. Any mistake is also punished with alcoholic intake.

When I was a second year helping the Freshers to relax, we were in the Lake District at a posh hotel (one of many places we were never allowed back to...) and followed up with rowing boat trips out on to Windermere, the largest of the lakes. The people on my boat spent the next hour trying to strand one another on the many islands we landed on.

Happy days.


val said...

Sorry for the uncorrected errors, but the Blogger App won't let me get down to the lower part of the post to edit it! For Drinker read Drunker. We had loads of Colorado students on Junior Year abroad who were very glad you could drink at 18 over here!

JoJo said...

Yes...well.....partying like crazy has always been a part of the US college experience. I never participated in the spring break thing b/c that just wasn't my thing. I always went home on break, which is only a week, and would try to work if I could to make a few extra bucks to tide me over for the rest of the school year. I never participated in Greek week either b/c I think sororities are lame. But i'd be lying if I said I didn't engage in some questionable behaviour during my freshman year and beginning of my sophomore year. After that I had a steady boyfriend till after I graduated.

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