David Moseley

The first day

2014-02-11 10:46

David Moseley

Last week I was waiting for some friends at the gate that leads to Rhodes Memorial, which is on a footpath that leads to UCT. There’s also a small parking lot in the area which the students jostle for in the morning.

As we were about to head off a car pulled up with a frantic looking man in the driver’s seat and a mortified girl on the passenger side. Leaning out the window he asked desperately, “Is this the way to UCT?”

At the same time, the girl, obviously his daughter, attempted to climb into the cubby-hole, deeply ashamed of this one last embarrassing act by her father before he released her into the real world. 

Naturally we all pointed in different directions, helpfully offering that he should rather keep his daughter at home for there are horrid little boys at UCT, waiting to corrupt his precious flower. The father chuckled nervously, while the daughter rolled her eyeballs silently screaming, “just get me out of here, dad.”

It reminded me of my first few days at university. Having hardly left the Western Cape as a child I was quite excited for only my second visit to the Eastern Cape (the first being a golf tour in which I lost my match before the ninth hole but snagged the opposing team’s captain’s girlfriend and took her to my matric dance) and to get to Grahamstown.

My parents were eager to get me there, so eager that they raced towards my res once on the campus, kept the engine running while I unpacked the car and barely looked back to wave goodbye as I trudged up the stairs of Cullen Bowles House at Rhodes.

A friend from school had made the trip with us from Cape Town to Grahamstown and all I recall as my folks’ car sped off, number plate spinning on the floor, tyres screeching through the corners, was his face pressed against the back window as he gave a sad little farewell wave.

The fun really started the next morning when I went to register for my course. Knowing absolutely nothing about university, I was under the impression that I’d be studying just the one subject, the thing that had lured me there in the first place.

“And what other subjects will you be taking young man?” asked the registrar rather gravely. What do you mean, sir? I’m here to do Journalism. “Yes, but you must take three more subjects.”

Horrified, I turned to my new pal, who I’d met in the line three minutes earlier, and who was even more clueless than me, and in a blind panic I picked his choices of History, English and, to my later dismay, Linguistics.

And that’s how I came to have the most useless Bachelor of Arts degree hanging on my wall.

Still, it could have been worse. It could have been my first day after university when I started my first job, where I walked into the office, staff looking at me as if I was bum coming round to wash their cars and my future boss blankly asked, “Oh, what are you doing here…”

- Follow @david_moseley on Twitter.

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