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A Fresh Perspective: Fresher’s Guide to London – From a Northerner

The only article you’ll ever need as you cross the divide and venture down south

Being a fresher is a struggle for anyone. It’s been three months now, and we’re still getting our heads around how toilet roll doesn’t magically appear when required and why food use-by dates are an actual thing. But for my fellow northern freshers, I must extend my deepest congratulations. We have broken that divide: we proudly stepped out of our stereotypically honest gravy-loving, chattier, Thatcher-hating comfort zone and have embarked upon a journey to distant lands with a reliable public transportation system and a more tropical climate – did it rain at all here in October?

Here are four things you have already/will experience in your time ‘daaawn saarrrffff’ …

The big question: “Whereabouts are you from?”

In the same way that anything south of Junction 15 on the M6 is a mystery for any northerner, a southerner’s geographical knowledge of The North can be quite limited. You can say you’re from a small town – like Leigh. When the brow furrows and the mouth drops slightly, then you reply with a less specific region or borough, like Wigan. And finally, when the eyebrows raise, the lips purse with embarrassment and the shoulders shrug with an “I-don’t-know-nor-do-I-really-care” attitude, you sigh and awkwardly reply with “near Manchester.” Learn to expect that London is the centre of the universe, and familiarise yourself with the exasperation you will experience when people claim anything north of London is The North.

Accent and dialect

You thought your accent was barely noticeable, but to your flat mates, you’re essentially the lovechild of Peter Kay and Liam Gallagher. Immediately, you become aware of the accent you didn’t know you had through the constant scrutinising of the pronunciation of vowels – just to clarify, it is “bath” not “barth.”


It is a bold but true statement: food has evidently bridged the North-South gap. Warburton’s bread originated in Bolton, but now provides many a Chip Barm throughout the country and mops up that smooth gravy excess smeared across Nan’s best Sunday china. And when the nasty hangover/hunger pangs strike, never fear, for Greggs’ pasties are always here.

The pride you have for your hometown

“What did tha just say about Manchester?” You will undoubtedly become fiercely protective whenever anyone is anything short of complimentary about home. London may offer all the history and culture your heart may desire, it may be home to the coolest of bars and restaurants, place of palaces and parliament. Yet, still your heart beats for your small-town local where a 3-course meal on a Sunday costs £7.99, and you know that you will always have the “best night ever” in your local nightclub.

Home may be where the heart is, however, right now you’re in London. London: a world centre in art, culture, finance and history. A world of opportunity is waiting, so forget wasting time moping about home. Home will always be there, but you’re only a fresher once…or twice, or three times, depending on how much you miss Drapers’ events come September. Now is the time to grow and embrace everything this fantastic city offers, starting with your degree and finishing…who knows where? Who knows what lies ahead and what is to come? Think of London like Blackpool rock: it’s impossible to fully chew through and complete, but it’s addictive taste means you will always want more.

Image: Pablo Cabezos

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