back to top

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.

Posted on

1. You probably didn't own a computer. If you did, it looked like this and weighed a ton.

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.

3. Still, it felt like luxury compared to using your parents' computer at home – where any internet time had to be scheduled for moments when your mum wasn't on the phone.

4. Not that you necessarily needed technology for your work. Wikipedia didn't exist, and Ask Jeeves was no help at all.

Ask Jeeves

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

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.
reddit.com / Via reddit.com

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.

6. Essays were a thing that you physically ~handed in~.

7. If you wanted to leave a message for someone you'd stick a note on their door.

8. Hardly anyone owned a mobile phone, so when you and your friends made a plan to meet, everyone had to stick to it.

9. If you lost your friends in a club or bar you could spend the whole evening searching.

10. If you did own a mobile, it was a Nokia that only had space for eight texts. So you had to be selective about which you kept.

But at least it had Snake, so you were never bored in lectures.
Twitter: @90sdecade

But at least it had Snake, so you were never bored in lectures.

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.
payphonebox.com

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.

12. You may even have used a phone card that you topped up at the start of term.

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.
tvcream.co.uk

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.

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.
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.

15. You sent actual letters to friends at other universities telling them how you were getting on.

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

frecklesandfizz.blogspot.co.uk

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.

17. The only way you knew when anything was happening was by checking noticeboards.

Nick White / Getty Images

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

http://www.delcampe.net/page/item/id,228640335,var,BT-chargecardBT-logowith-account-and-nameusedbackside-with-wide-magnetic-stripe,language,E.html
http://www.delcampe.net/page/item/id,228640335,var,BT-chargecardBT-logowith-account-and-nameusedbackside-with-wide-magnetic-stripe,language,E.html

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.

19. Someone in your halls almost certainly had this poster on their wall.

20. You knew a group of lads who did literally nothing but play GoldenEye on the N64.

http://goldeneye.wikia.com/wiki/Oddjob
https://www.youtube.com/

21. There were days when your only achievement was watching Neighbours twice in one day.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Kennedy
https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Karl_Kennedy
http://www.mirror.co.uk/tv/tv-news/neighbours-30th-anniversary-susan-karl-5333568

22. You sang along to "Disco 2000" and it was about the future.

23. You could smoke wherever you damn well pleased.

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.
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.

Jamie Wolpert
https://www.gumtree.com/p/cds/collection-of-over-40-rock-cd-albums-indie-brit-pop-dance-rave-u.s-indie-1980s-1990s-2000s/1126644550

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

25. You owned a bulky hi-fi that was a real bugger to cart home at the end of every term.

With a disc changer if you were fancy.
indiatimes.com

With a disc changer if you were fancy.

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".
longagoandohsofaraway.wordpress.com

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.

http://riya-uk.blogspot.co.uk/2010/10/junglist-massive_5677.html

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.
dontstayin.com

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.

29. But there often weren't that many entertainment options. Sometimes you'd stay up all night, just sitting in someone's room, talking.

Alex Billig

30. It was easy to keep conversation going, because no one had their head buried in a smartphone at any point.

Jamie Wolpert

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

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

Jamie Wolpert
Jamie Wolpert

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.