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Lifestyles: Student Life

One Cup Of Coffee please
Ben Macpherson

I don’t like stereotypes. In society today it seems we are obsessed with them. Stereo-typical music, for stereo-typical people, wearing stereo-typical clothes. For instance, no one would expect a business man from the City, to listen to thrash metal and drive an A-reg Capri Ghia; (and if ever there was an exception to this rule - I would like his autograph for posterity).

One element of society, caught up in the fervour and media obsession with ‘types’ is the University student. For the most part, it seems that those who are ignorant of us (and I say ‘us’ for I am one) believe University Students to be self absorbed academics who for the most part spend their student loans repaying expenses incurred in their gap year, or buying cigarettes and alcohol - lots of it. I can testify that this stereotype is, well shall we say, a ‘generalisation’? Most students don’t have the money to pay off the loan, and are in debt even before the alcohol and nicotine craving sets in (thanks to the undue overload of primary and secondary reading). However, should the need to smoke or drink overwhelm a student, I am reliably informed that the phrase ‘Overdraft’ always seems to fix the problem - and incur more debt to add to that of their expenses travelling around
Europe in the summer.

I am told it’s a great experience. Still, to return to the matter in hand - societies need for stereotypes, and with special focus on the students of society, I shall now proceed with one of my own. This stereotype is true. This stereotype is regrettable. This stereotype is the subversive, insidious kind, that creeps up on you - and catches you when you least expect it. Like temptation: but not. I hang my head in morbid shame to admit, that even I have observed myself being trapped in the trend, seduced by the stereotype, press ganged by the pressure to do as the rest do. What am I referring to? Yes, coffee. Polystyrene cups of instant coffee from machines, the lids of which aren’t big enough for a five pence piece to fall through, but which never fit properly, resulting more often than not in a coffee stain on those trousers you bought in the sale. Well you’re a student! That’s what sales and student cards are for!

Now, all this may sound harmless, and the fact of students drinking non-alcoholic beverages is surely to be commended is it not? Well, let me regale you with the whole story, and then maybe you will reconsider this commendation.

It’s 8.45 in the morning. It’s November and a chill hangs in the air waiting to pounce on its next victim - me: the lowly student who has yet to realise winter is here, and that fashion is not an option if you want to stay warm. Yes, I walk through the square, watching my breath as I go, counting my steps and cursing the fact that the traffic lights have broken and I have to play ‘chicken’ just to cross the road. I see my breath, I feel the usual bleary eyed dread that one has walking into another happy-clappy drama class, and I can hear the cars…and, much worse, the change jangling in my pocket fighting to be let loose - and given away. And this is more often than not what happens. It occurs thus: a small way away from my drama studio - and conveniently located in the shape of the Bermuda triangle lie three small shops all of which sell cups of coffee at competitive prices

Subway, the Student Union Convenience Store and athe Parisienne cafe are positioned in such a way, that -no matter which direction you walk from, you will be caught and lured by the seductive smell of freshly made bread, home made patisseries…or coffee. I walk into Subway, in a trance. “One cup of coffee…please” I say, barely realising the sin I commit. A cup gets handed to me. I walk away after placing the required eighty nine pence onto the hand of some pubescent nobody who mans the till at such an unsociable hour. I walk to the machine. I place the cup in the holder and press the button. I watch as the coffee gets poured in my cup. I take a lid, and placing it carefully on the polystyrene I exit the shop to the sound of the bell ringing twice. It’s not to alert the shop assistant is it? No. It’s the sound of condemnation. It’s divine displeasure reminding me I have once again been tempted by the need to pose along with my fellow students; and proceed with the banal yet inevitable comparisons of brand. Subway tastes nicer than Nescafe. Nescafe is cheaper than Greggs. And that plain white cup doesn’t look like it’s that reputable! Coffee rage. Cup wars. And this is University! It’s shameful to admit it, but I know of someone who buys into this trend with great enthusiasm - and doesn’t even like coffee. What’s more appalling is he goes the extra mile and splashes out on a cinnamon Danish! Even I wouldn’t sink so low! Well, alright, maybe I would…but only if the shop with the hot sausage rolls was closed.

It’s a terrible thing to be a poser. And what’s worse is that I know I do it. Student culture is a very addictive thing (or maybe that’s just the caffeine). It’s January soon, and my new year’s resolution (not that I make them, but if I did); is to cut out the coffee. Stop the Subway. Save my money. But until that fateful and doom laden day,
I will look forward every morning to the thrill of comparing designs on paper cups. I don’t like stereotypes.

© Ben Macpherson December 2003
Ben is a first year Creative Arts Student at Portsmouth University

(Help educate this poor misfortunate - tell him that drinking instant coffee for eight nine pence (roughly one dollar twent cents) will kill his soul. Real coffee, not instant and lattes at wo pounds ($3.50 US) is what real addicts pay - at least twice a day- Ed)

More about Coffee:
Things to do at Starbucks
Addiction - worse it's legal

More Lifestyles


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