Northerners Vs Southerners. Is the difference really that big?
As a Northerner coming to university in Southampton, one of the questions I most frequently get asked is why I chose to go to a university so far from home. My answer is that this is exactly why: because it is far from home. For all those who came to Southampton from the nearby Southern counties of Surrey, Kent, Essex, Berkshire and so on, I have to ask: where is your sense of adventure? Travelling to the other end of the country to go to university is one of the biggest culture shocks you can experience, and one of the most exciting.
I came to Southampton from Leeds, and although I’m now in my third year and my Yorkshire accent has been thoroughly diluted, I still bear the brunt of constant imitations. Now, I have to clarify that I have nothing against Southerners. In fact, I love them and many people I have met down South will, I’m sure, be very close friends of mine for a long time after we’ve left university. However, no matter how hard they try, they will never be able to copy my accent successfully, and if you have a Northern accent too, the impressions will continue to be the bane of your life throughout your three years at university. On the plus side, you will also be able to do hilarious impressions of their accents which will no doubt be equally as bad.
I personally didn’t even realise I had ‘an accent’ before coming to Southampton two years ago, and many of my Southern friends didn’t realise they all had accents either until I informed them. Just try your best not to loose your accent, your friends back home will start to make fun of you for it, and a vicious circle will begin. Your accent will be seen as strange both at home and at university and you could end up with a weird in-betweeny accent which you will find hard to justify.
Another bit of knowledge I can pass on to you is that Southerners never fail to jump to the defensive when you label them as ‘posh’. They are usually keen to let you know that they don’t fit the stereotype of well-off, posh kids. Just as we ‘northerners’ are usually keen to show them that we don’t all wear flat caps and work down mines. Recent reality television shows do little to quash the stereotypes. Made In Chelsea, following the Southern elite playing polo and adorning themselves in the latest designer gear, and Geordie Shore, following the crazy partying antics going on in the Northern city of Newcastle, both reinforce the clichés believed by many about the profound differences between Northerners and Southerners.
Although as a Northerner in a Southern university you will always be greatly outnumbered, don’t feel like you’re unwelcome. Southerners may be stereotyped as being ‘cold’ in comparison to Northerners but if there is one thing I’ve learnt, it’s that stereotypes should not be assumed easily, and that there isn’t actually much of a difference between students from the North and from the South. We’re all Southampton university students and therefore similar in many ways regardless of where we come from originally. We have to embrace the differences in people, because its all part of the uni experience. After all, University, like the rest of the world, would be a very boring place if everyone was exactly the same.