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TikTok on the Clock: What Happened to my Aesthetic Uni Experience?



It is a truth universally acknowledged, that a student of university age, must be in want of a night out. Right? 


If you are a student, particularly one attending the University of St Andrews, I feel confident in the assumption that a) your Facebook usage rivals a middle-aged mum and b) you spent hours on TikTok, Youtube, and Instagram the summer before first-year, obsessively consuming all content you could find about balls, fashion shows, and Vic nights. But what happens when you actually get here, and rather than flowing champagne and ball gowns it’s £3 bottles of Tesco’s finest and ankle-deep mud puddles filled with floating potato bits from a food fight? Or what about when your favourite Vic night from the first year suddenly is full of people pushing up against you and making out in your face? What happens when the year's best events become the same as last year and the year before?


Ultimately, the reality is that nothing will match the expectations you came into uni with. So, let them go. Some things will assuredly be better and some will assuredly be worse, and so many things will be completely new each year. There’ll always be that one night where you went to Molly’s for a pint and ended up playing go-fish with American golfers for six hours, or the society dinner you snuck out of to buy more wine before playing obnoxiously loud drinking games in a public place. 


We handle the inevitable disappointment of the events we attend not being as picture-perfect as they are in curated and edited TikTok videos, and the disappointment of events no longer holding the same novelty as they did the first or second time you went, by embracing the moments and giving the small ones as much credit as the big ones. Sure, dressing up for a ball is exciting and fun, but if you prefer a pub quiz or a movie night don’t let that stop you. 


Even better, apply to join a committee. Tired of the same fashion shows year-in-year-out? Apply to be a dresser or a model and get a different perspective. You’ll meet new people, get close-up with the clothes, and join a great community. If the continuously horrible logistics of travelling to Kinkle Byre or Falside Mill keep ruining a night out, join the committee and work with them to make it better. Try out new ways of experiencing events too — if you can and are willing, choose once or twice in your uni experience to splurge on a dinner ticket or a VIP one. 


Ultimately, how each individual experiences events and what they envision in them is different, but the feeling of disappointment and confusion is a mutual feeling. We all know what it’s like to lose every aspect of socialisation in a minute. So, enjoy the bright colours and beautiful people that you see on social media but approach each event with a blank slate. At the end of the day, it isn’t about the event itself, who’s hosting it or what the dress code is, but who you’re with. As ABBA once said, “Night is young and the music’s high/ with a bit of rock music/ everything is fine/ you’re in the mood to dance.” 


Illustration: Sandra Palazuelos Garcia

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