The Struggles of Being a Midlander at Uni
Having been at home in Staffordshire for just over a month now, it has made me reflect on my time at university and how much of an impact my hometown and accent have affected my integration and perceptions that other students have had of me. I was born in Bridgnorth in Shropshire and later moved to Staffordshire so I have always been a Midlander. However, I hate to break it to all you other people from the Midlands but we simply do not exist at universities, despite the fact that Warwick University isn’t even in Warwick and is in fact in Coventry, which is a part of the WEST MIDLANDS but that is a whole other story.
At university, if you are from the UK, you are either from the North (which is where us Midlanders are categorised as being from) or you are from the South, there simply is no in-between despite my many protests to people who call me a Northerner. In response they plainly say ‘but you have a Northern accent’ or ‘you just act like a Northerner’ but I don’t have a strong accent (such as Stoke, Newcastle, Liverpool or Yorkshire) and I have no idea what it is to act as a Northerner or a Southerner.
There are many clichés about the North and the South but I will tell you what is true about the Midlands and although we do share many similarities with those from the North, there are some differences and there are many discrepancies within different regions, counties and even towns.
1) Students in the north get their drinks FAR cheaper as do people in the Midlands. I’ve heard many Londoners gasp in horror when I tell them that we can get drinks for £1 or less on a local student night.
2) Northern students are generally very hardy and no-nonsense about the weather and Midlanders are too…to an extent. We will happily go outside in the rain and snow without a coat, hood or umbrella while most Southerners see it as suicide.
3) While it can be true that some Northerners can hold their drink better, that certainly isn’t true about everyone and also not for all Midlanders. I personally like to have a drink now and then but I can’t have more than a couple of beers without feeling tipsy but many of my friends can drink all night long so this depends a lot on the person and how regularly and how much they generally drink.
4) In the South, tea is simply the quintessentially British beverage but in the Midlands and in the North it’s your dinner. I personally use the terms breakfast, lunch and tea but some also use supper and we call a cup of tea a cuppa or a brew but there are also variants depending on which part of the Midlands you’re from.
5) Although I don’t hear it when I’m at uni, Southerners will comment that I have a Northern accent and it will get to the point that most of the Southerners you live with will pick up your mannerisms and phrases while the Midlanders and Northerners will remain fairly consistent until they return home and your accent and mannerisms are ten times as strong, especially around close family and friends.
6) I found it particularly strange that most Southerners don’t thank a bus driver when they reach their stop while this is commonplace in the Midlands and the North and I do think it’s true that Southerners tend to be less friendly and chatty when you first meet them but generally Midlanders will talk to nearly everyone they meet.
7) However, it is also true that Midlanders and Northerners tend to be quite frank, and say things directly which many Southerners can find harsh, abrasive and unfriendly.
8) No-one from the South knows where anywhere from the Midlands is and you will have to use Birmingham or a famous attraction as a marker. Most people have no idea where Staffordshire, Stoke, Stafford, Derby or Burton is so I will eventually just say that I live about 30 minutes away from Birmingham and about 15 minutes away from Alton Towers but don’t even try to explain to someone foreign what the Midlands is.
9) No matter where you’re from, the debate over where the North and the South actually start will continue throughout your time at uni and if you’re a Midlander, you will concede to the fact that you actually are from the North at some point just because you can’t be bothered to argue or explain exactly where you’re from and why there’s a difference.
10) Don’t even get me started on what is East and West Midlands and what is there because to most British people the Midlands don’t even exist.
So there you have it, it’s not always easy being a Midlander and we are often stereotyped and misunderstood but I am proud to me from the Midlands and will continue to try to explain the difference!
Thanks for reading!