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32 Things You'll Only Understand If You Went To University In The '90s

No smartphones, no Wi-Fi. Today's students will never know the struggle.

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2. If you wanted to use the internet, that meant going to the ~computer room~, where you would spend endless hours waiting for web pages to load.

Even though all you wanted to do was check your Hotmail and dick around in chat rooms.

There might have been a whizz kid in your halls who had a computer in his room and managed to illegally download a TV show or film. But it took him/her all term to do it.


5. Besides, you wrote your notes in fountain pen, and kept them in a ring binder. / Via

You had decent handwriting back then and took pride in it. These days you can barely hold a pen without your hand cramping up, let alone write an elegant side of A4.


11. You queued for ages to use the pay phone during freshers' week.

Everyone wanted to talk to their boyfriends/girlfriends back home. By the end of term those relationships had mostly ended, so the queues weren't as bad.


13. Freshers' week conversations revolved around '80s kids' TV shows, like Mysterious Cities of Gold.

Plus you found yourself answering the same questions endlessly – "What school did you go to? What are you studying?" Nowadays this happens less, as students befriend each other on social media before the start of term so they already know the basic getting-to-know-you stuff.

14. At the end of the first term you wrote down all your new friends' phone numbers and addresses in a book so you could keep in touch over the holidays.

Jamie Wolpert

One or two of them might have had pagers.

If you did call your friend in the holidays, there was always the danger their dad might pick up and engage you in small talk before handing the receiver over.

16. And, since email was a novelty, you'd send long missives that way too.

You'd spend hours crafting florid, multi-paragraph epics, full of emotion, humour, and anecdote. Imagine giving that much of a shit about an email today.


18. You had train and bus timetables pinned to your wall or stuffed in a drawer.

Generally, there was a lot of paper. In London, pre-Google Maps, it was common to take an A-Z with you wherever you went.


23. You could smoke wherever you damn well pleased.

Marv Gillibrand CC BY-NC-ND / Via Flickr: marv

At gigs, in bars and clubs, even in your room. Even if you didn't smoke, you'd come from a night out and your clothes and hair would reek of cigarettes.

24. You were pleased when people came to your room because it meant you could show off your awesome CD collection.

The Bends – check. Counting Crows' debut album – check. The Best of James – hoo boy, check.


26. The dual cassette deck was important because you never knew when you might want to make someone a compilation tape*.

From planning the running order to handwriting the tracklist, these could take an entire weekend to produce and were genuine labours of love.

*Only cool DJ types called them "mixtapes".

27. There was a druggy crowd who were always trying to persuade you to go to a drum-and-bass night.

There would be a conversation about how you were supposed to dance to the bassline, not the drumbeat.

28. There was a cheese night that people would go back to over and over again, despite claiming never to enjoy a single moment of it.

It was 50p a pint if you got there early, and you'd have a round of After Shocks if you were really going for it.


31. But the weirdest thing to wrap your head round now? People almost never took photos.

Alex Billig

It was a hassle. You'd have to take the film to Boots to develop, and they'd usually turn out crap anyway.

32. Which means very little photo evidence exists today.

And you're glad about that.

If Instagram, Facebook, and Snapchat had been around to immortalise what you were like back then? Doesn't bear thinking about.