I spent the rest of my day looking around the university, trying to get my bearings and work out where everything was. The campus was much bigger than I had imagined and huge compared to what I was used to. It would take time for me to feel completely comfortable in my new surroundings but a walk around with Darren and Owen made me feel a bit better.
The History lecture rooms were in the same building as the Cultural Studies department, which wasn’t too far away from our flat in the accommodation section of the campus. There was also a small Starbucks next to it, by the entrance for me to grab a coffee before early lectures.
“It’s great that it’s not raining,” Darren commented as he looked up at the sky. “With all the clouds gathering earlier I thought we were going to be drowned.”
“It was only a passing bit of cloud cover,” I replied, “although I think it’s supposed to rain tomorrow.” A thought passed through my head, wondering how stupid we must look, all staring at the sky with thoughtful looks on our faces.
It might not have been raining but I could definitely tell that summer was over and autumn was in full swing. The air had a crisp freshness to it and I’d had to grab my oversized men’s jumper, which I always kept handy, before I left the flat. A strong gust of wind blew my hair skyward, the cold snaking down the back of my jumper and making me shiver.
“You alright?” Owen asked, giving me a funny look as I shuddered.
“Yeah, I’m fine,” I replied. “Just got a bit of a chill that’s all. It’s colder than it looks out here.”
“You want to borrow my jacket?” He asked, slipping it off and offering it to me.
“Don’t be silly,” I replied, “it’s not that bad. And I don’t want you to get cold on my behalf. The wind has gone now anyway so I’m fine.” Owen gave me a funny look, like he knew I was lying, but he put his jacket back on all the same.
“So where now?” Darren asked like he hadn’t heard the exchange between Owen and me. “We could go into the town and check it out. I think Eric is planning a night out for later, a bonding session or something. You guys going to go?”
“I don’t think so,” I mumbled, shaking my head.
“Why not?” Darren asked forcefully. “It’ll be fun.”
“I’m not really a party sort of girl,” I replied. “I haven’t been to nightclubs or anything like that. I’ve been to pubs but that’s about as hard core as I go.”
“Then we’ll have to educate you,” Darren said, a mischievous smile on his face as he draped one arm over my shoulders and leant on me. “We’ll make a party animal of you yet.”
“You’re sounding like Eric,” Owen laughed. “I don’t think we can live with two hard partiers in one house. Do you think Eric will keep his drinking up all year or will he give up after the first term?”
“I reckon he’ll be exhausted after the first few weeks and spend the rest of the year sleeping it off,” Darren predicted. “I think that Olly will be the one who parties hardest.”
“Why do you say that?” I asked, intrigued at Darren’s logic.
“He likes a bit of a laugh and is willing to make a fool of himself. Add in a few drunken friends and it’s a perfect combination for drinking games and general hilarity. He’ll love the attention.”
Both Owen and I laughed despite ourselves. The truth was that we both knew Darren was right, even after only knowing both him and Olly for less than a day. It was weird the connection that was forming between the three of us, almost instantaneous, making me feel like I had known these two guys forever.
I had a similar connection with Aislinn, like I knew who she was and we’d met before, but unlike the way I felt towards Owen and Darren, there was something deeper, hiding below the surface that I couldn’t grasp no matter how hard I tried. The more I thought about it the more my head span, confusing me even more.
“Sorry?” I said, snapping out of my thoughts as I realised someone had addressed me.
“You really are half asleep,” Darren chuckled. “I said, if you’re not going to go out tonight then what were your plans?”
I shrugged. “I hadn’t really thought about it I guess. I didn’t realise that everyone else would be going out. My mother said we should probably go for a meal somewhere, get to know each other better, but it seems like everyone else already has plans.”
“Well, why don’t we combine the two plans so that everyone is happy?” Owen suggested. “We can go out for an early pizza or something like that and then those who want to hit the town can, and those who want to go back are free to do that too.”
“Seems like a fair idea,” Darren agreed, nodding. “Shall we go and pitch it to the others?”
“Sure,” I replied, shrugging again. “It was only an idea though. I won’t be offended if people just want to hit the clubs or something like that. I can find something else to do.”
“No, we are going to include you no matter what,” Darren insisted. “It’s your first night of university, you can’t spend it alone. In fact, if people don’t want to go out for something to eat, I propose we have our own wild night in.”
“What do you suggest?” Owen asked, raising an eyebrow in a way I didn’t like.
“I’m thinking a bottle or two of vodka and some games. Let’s introduce our new friend to true university culture.” The two guys were both looking at me now with big grins on their faces.
“That sounds like a very good plan,” Owen said.
“I think I might have to sit that one out,” I said, trying my best not to sound like a complete loser. “I’m not great with alcohol.”
“Which is why we must teach you my friend,” Darren insisted. “And I won’t take no for an answer. Let’s go find the others before Nessie can stop us.”