The year: 2015. It was my third night in halls when I awoke to the sound of an ‘air raid’. I don’t know what I was dreaming about but I remember the first thoughts I had early on a Sunday morning was that I was in the Second World War and was about to be bombed. Sound odd, I know, (I blame Life after Life by Kate Atkinson) but all I could hear was this repetitive noise I had never heard before, echoing around the whole of the hall. To me it sounded like the air raid siren in WWII films, I was confused and disoriented, it was 5-am in the morning after all. What actually happened was obviously something quite different.
I got out of bed, put my slippers on and left my room, had a quick search for my keys before giving up and going outside. The first thing I saw was around a hundred students in the courtyard, all looking in one direction, a big black cloud of smoke. One of the neighbouring student blocks in my hall seemed to be on fire.
It wasn’t. Within a few minutes, anyone whose room was not attached to the block that had a mist of smoke flying out the window was allowed back into their rooms. A Residental assistant told us that fortunately no one was hurt and the flames had not left the saucepan. A student back from a freshers night attempted to cook sweet corn and fell asleep.
Naturally, we all trudged back into our rooms – including me once I found an RA with a master key. However, I had a restless night that night. The idea that it was the first night most of the students had moved into halls and someone already burnt their food, causing a lot of smoke and probably almost a fire prevented me from drifting soundly back to sleep. When morning came – by which I mean the sun rose – I was grateful it was a Sunday morning, and not my first official day at university. I drank a lot of tea and tried to sleep the next night.
However, unfortunately for me, the whole week was a restless night. I caught an hour or two of sleep before waking up and spending another 15-20 minutes to get back to sleep. The next Saturday, a week after the fire alarm, I managed to sleep without waking up every few hours. You know what they say about Murphy’s law?
Sunday. 5am. I was back in World War II again. I had my keys and I went outside.
This time, there is no fire. A fire-glass was broken and the Residental assistants needed to deactivate the broken panel. This took awhile, so while we were all allowed back inside, we couldn’t get to sleep straight away because of the noise.
A few hours later and it would be Family Fun Day, full of families coming to see how you’re settling in, face-painting, candy floss, food and a bouncy-castle. Once the noise stopped, I went to my bed, lay down and slept until my alarm went off. I believe my mind found it easier to sleep knowing this time was not a real fire – or it could be the realisation that the fire-alarms worked. So I managed to get a few hours more sleep before Family Fun Day
Admittedly, I was a little tired, but I enjoyed the day. My dad and nan visited me at the university campus, I had my face painted as an owl (my nan’s favourite animal), met a few of my new friends’ families, ate burgers with my family and had a few minutes bouncing on the bouncy castle.