Sunday February two 2070
publication this week of the ‘Rah Rah Survival Guide’ for posh and middle class
students marks the 50th anniversary of this essential annual guide.
When first published in 2020, its purpose was to provide a comprehensive guide
for students from advantaged family backgrounds wishing to fit in with their
lesser advantaged peers. The latest guide has many of the traditional gems of
advice in addition to recent updates. Hopefully ‘posh’ students will continue
to avoid the common ‘faux pas’ traps into which many have fallen over the years.
First and foremost is not to use French words that may seem to you to be ‘en vogue’. It should be ‘de rigueur’ to use the
vernacular wherever possible since doing otherwise will grate on some students.
If caught out, then the classic comic defence of ‘pretentious moi’ may work but
only the once. Here are a few snippets.
proportion of students coming from the poorest neighbourhoods has not risen at
our universities significantly since 2020, it still remains important for
students of means to try not to stand out.
Back in 2020, the different standards of accommodation meant that this alone marked out the wealthiest students. However, the Student Equality Bill and accord of 2027, signed
by all Former UK States (FUKS) universities, meant that all students were compelled
to live in equivalent standard accommodation. Rooms were all adapted to basic
single study rooms with shared kitchens and bathrooms. This means that all students now have the same
facilities and advantage in term time. To most students, the rooms are basic and a radical step down from what they experience at home. For others, the rooms are a luxury
with a sink and central heating and often for the first time they are not sharing a
room with their siblings (use of the word sibling is discouraged in favour of
brothers and sisters).
to anyone doing something out of the ordinary and alone as going ‘off piste’.
Poorer students have never been skiing and are likely to get ‘piste off’. If you
see a risky move from someone (not referred to as a ‘peer’ or ‘fellow’ student
please) they are not ‘sailing close to the wind’. Your less advantaged companions may have
never been in a boat and will misunderstand the reference to ‘wind’.
You might be
tempted to say they are doing it ‘off their own bat’. This term from the cricketing
world will bamboozle those not familiar with the sport. Indeed, foreign
students will immediately think of a small flying mammal and assume that you
for a ‘tête-à-tête’ with fellow
students to discuss an assignment; ‘let’s meet’ will suffice. Predictive text
can be a source of much confusion. In trying to fit in with a message in the
vernacular such as, “I can’t get nout” may send as “I can’t get Moët” on your
phone. Be warned.
What to wear and not to wear has become an important factor in staying low key. It is
important for male students that you NEVER wear brightly coloured, particularly
red, trousers. If you must wear expensive
items such as clothes from Harvey Nichols, and similar upmarket stores, then
remove all of the labels. Even Marks and Spencer labels are risky. Better still
replace the labels with equivalent ones from Primark.
Mistakes are commonplace and widespread. Leaving a bowl of olives lying
around that may be mistaken for grapes will leave a sour taste. Avocados are
not pears and to be avoided along with foods such as quinoa and polenta. It’s ‘mashed
potato’ and never ‘creamed potato’ or God forbid, ‘pomme purée’. French
fries are American. Never ask if someone wants cream in their coffee. This
will lead to incredible confusion when the reply is “I would prefer milk and
not cream please”. Indeed coffee alone will be focal point for many problems
and reverting to tea (‘ordinary’ and never Early Grey or the like) might be
easier. Many families post ‘incident’ could only afford cheap instant coffee or
even a chicory essence referred to as ‘tent’ coffee. They may never have seen
coffee beans or a grinder before and the ‘fines’ in their cup will be a
surprise. Fines are what you pay when you are caught surely. Wine only comes in
three basic types, white, red and fizzy.
Family and holidays.
It is very easy to slip up here; especially when discussing the holidays or weekends.
If you have been at the family estate in the country or family villa in Italy for
the weekend, then referring to it as ‘visiting my father’s allotment’ might
help. But note that an allotment in Tuscany is most likely to seem bizarre.
Planning a holiday with friends should be done with extreme caution so as
not to offend. The less advantaged students will be seeking employment nearer
home in the summer and they will not be up for a ‘grand tour’ of Europe. Upon return, you
could say you were working as a delivery driver around various European cities.
But definitely forget to explain that you were, in essence, delivering your parents
cash to various bars and restaurants.
Lastly, NEVER EVER bring up the subject of the ‘incident’ of 2019 with a
student from a less advantaged background. This may be precisely why they have
fewer advantages than you.