Coming to university means broadening horizons, being introduced to new ideas and concepts, people and cultures. For a Londoner born and bred, one distinctive group I have had to come to grips with have been ‘Northerners’.
People from ‘The North’ are not just people from Northern England. In fact it seems as if this place of origin defines them far more than I thought was possible. Perhaps because they are in a minority, at least in my college, they seem to cling on to their culture and strange ways with such passion and enthusiasm.
This can be difficult for ‘Southerners’ to understand. However, there are ways to make them feel at ease. Any right minded person of course knows that Oxford is pretty far up North. However, they maintain that they have made a treacherous journey down South, having spent at least 3 hours on the Train. It is important to respect their confusion and lack of understanding of geography.
It is also important to respect that they do not understand meal times. Never ask a Northerner if they want to go out for dinner, because they will think you mean lunch. As well as not knowing when meal times are, not to mention thinking that tea is a meal and not of course a drink; meeting Northerners has brought my attention to weird food combinations. Never before had I considered putting gravy on chips, but I have to admit it is not a bad combination.
Equally, I have had to come to appreciate their dialect. Seemingly, once you reach a point past Nottingham there has been a decision made unbeknownst to the South to deem the article ‘the’ as surplus to the requirements of their vocabulary. This can cause some confusion but if you nod and smile at what they say then there is little that can go wrong. And if the word ‘the’ is the only word they have missed out in a sentence, then count yourself lucky.
Northerners definitely have a different biological make-up. Having come from extreme weather conditions, they manage to never have to pay for coat check in any club, and wear frighteningly little clothes be it December or July. In fact, this being my first year at Oxford, I have yet to see how Northerners react to summer. As you can imagine, I approach the summer months with some fear.
It confuses me that I have a Northern friend studying Economics and Management when collectively, Northerners seem to have no grasp of the value of money. Basic economic concepts such as supply and demand and inflation do not supersede their sheer horror at not being able to buy vodka shots for £1 and Kit- Kats for 50p.
Finally, and perhaps most harrowingly, Northerners have no concept of what is and is not socially acceptable. No topic of discussion is too much information, and a conversation with a Northerner can end up being an outpouring of information, talking at you about everything that crosses their mind. This is not limited to friends. Northerners think that it is ok to talk to strangers at bus stops and queues in clubs.
What is needed is a sociological and anthropological study to fully understand these quirks and traits. Only then can we fully understand what makes people from the North, ‘Northerners’.
PHOTO// J. THOMAS