Last Thursday, I had some free time and a travel card. So I decided to head over to New Cross and check out the life I might’ve had if I’d gone ahead and applied to Goldsmiths (like I originally planned before finding an expert in my research subject at Surrey Uni).
As soon as I alighted, I picked out a couple of commuters who looked like they probably went to school there. Turns out I was right. I followed them (in a totally UN-creepy way) to the campus. On the way I had a look around. Unlike Guildford, New Cross feels like a college town in a way that I recognize.
UNC Chapel Hill’s campus is full of old buildings and green space and looks nothing like New Cross or the Goldsmiths campus, but it does have Franklin street — a strip of shops and restaurants that is almost exclusively populated by students (and the odd visiting relative). Franklin Street is what New Cross reminded me of. Unlike Goldsmiths, UNC is not an art school. I did attend an art school for my MFA, but that “campus” only consisted of three buildings, a parking deck, and a patch of grass, all surrounded by the concrete indifference of Los Angeles.
At Deptford Town Hall, there were a bunch of handmade signs sporting messages like the one above and others that said “Occupy Goldsmiths.” While I was researching Creative Writing PhD programs in the UK, I found a few articles and blog posts written by folks who either study/studied at Goldsmiths or were familiar with the school. From what I gathered, Goldsmiths has a reputation for extreme liberalism and students who are very outspoken on “the issues,” something else that reminds me of my alma mater.
While I was an undergraduate, there were loads of protests about everything from politics and the rights of various minority groups to the decisions made by school officials. When members of our student body were hurt or killed by unthinkable acts, we came together to support and celebrate those students. It was like a family. I don’t know what the general vibe at Goldsmiths is like — I visited when the campus was basically locked down for Easter — but if it’s anything like UNC, I’m glad for the students there. I didn’t appreciate it as much as I should have while I was there (I’d wanted to go to college up North because that’s where I came from and thought I belonged), but UNC was a great place to learn. I’ve taken something positive from every place I’ve lived and learned since then, but I always end up comparing each subsequent school experience to how it was for me at Carolina.
This post tooootally didn’t turn out the way I expected. I was planning to talk to you about New Cross and Goldsmiths and how easy it is to point out a Goldsmiths student (which I’m still not sure is a good or bad thing). Anyhoo…I ended up reminiscing instead. Don’t you love/hate it when that happens? In any case, I don’t regret not applying to Goldsmiths. My experiences at each school I’ve attended have been wildly different from one another, and I’m truly enjoying the progress I’ve made on my novel and my meetings with my supervisor. I’ve learned a great deal in only 6 months time, and I can feel myself growing here. And while I certainly didn’t get an all-inclusive insight into Goldsmiths student life (not even close), I sensed that I’ve probably outgrown the sort of student experience I suspect they have. It seems perfect for the time in your life when you’re emerging from adolescence into adulthood. You can learn about various issues and decide where you stand. You know how when you were a teenager (and even sometimes now, as an adult) you wondered whether or not you were moving in the right direction? I’m starting to feel like as long as I’m moving forward, I’m always moving in the right direction. So while it’s fun to reflect and to see what life could’ve been like for me here — with the possibility of reliving a bygone time in my life at Goldsmiths — I’m glad things turned out the way they did.
Have a wonderful week, y’all! 🙂