Always keep your door open

19/09/2022

Hannah Boyle explains why a doorstop is the best thing to invest in before coming to university

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Image by Jonathan Petersson

By Hannah Boyle

When I pitched this idea to our Zoom call of editors, it was fair to say there were one or two raised eyebrows. It is an odd concept- to pledge to produce a passionate piece of work about a door stop and it probably be one of the first things 2022 Freshers read, however I stand by it. The value of a doorstop is never acknowledged until you have one.

I remember being in Ikea with my mum, piling new things into the trolley and imagining exactly how the cutlery should match the plates and how that should all fit into my ‘aesthetic’ (any current fresher who has also done this, I salute you and let me be the first to say, it will pay off when you’re tapping away on that essay and the colour of the mug perfectly matches that poster you spent a good twenty minutes selecting). Little did I know that on that trip, it would be an unsuspecting wedge of rubber that I dropped into the bottom of the trolley and never thought anything else of that which would be the most valuable thing I bought.

Moving into my freshers flat felt like an exciting yet overwhelming experience as I lugged the many bags into the small space - and at the bottom of one of those bags was the doorstop, which was fished out almost immediately, and placed at the bottom of the fire door, wedging my door open to the rest of the corridor.

And that’s just where it stayed all day, letting me see the world go by and slowly allowing me to meet my flatmates - two of which entered my room, sat on the bed, and never left - literally, I still live with them now, two years later. It stays there, on the floor of my student house now, propping the door open as I have a conversation with my housemates, yelling across the three floors of the house.

Socialising with your flatmates in the first few days is vital. Don’t get me wrong, there will be some who rub you up the wrong way, some who you can’t understand why they can’t make toast or boil pasta, and some who you become friends with for the rest of the year, but, putting yourself out there is the only way to find out. It can be scary - moving in with up to twelve or twenty new people all at once, so take it one step at a time. Wedge the door open with a doorstop, a pile of books or whatever you have - and take it at all your own pace.

The times when I wanted nothing more than to be shut away in my own space, to push people away and wallow in the moments of missing home are when I actually needed it the most. The little doorstop that stopped me from being isolated from the university world, that gave me so many moments of impromptu fun when someone wandered past with their coffee and then returned to their own room three hours later. Even when you’ve had enough, that one person took a joke too far or another or the seemingly inevitable argument about the bin rota has burst out, keep yourself open to the next step and keep the door open - even if it is only an inch.

You’ve probably guessed by now that I am using the doorstop as a much larger and clunkier metaphor for getting involved and engaged with Freshers week and all university has to offer - and that is kind of the point (although, I stand by the fact that buying a doorstop is a great investment anyway, metaphor aside). York is an exciting, vibrant city and has so much to offer if you go out and take it. It can seem overwhelming, busy and a lot when you have just moved away from home, but it is an experience you can only understand by being open to it.

The relationships you make in freshers are not make or break - and the people you spend freshers with you may never see again - but your flatmates will be there until the bitter end of that July tenancy - through the many highs and lows.  Everyone gets to a pressure point (and trust me, it will come at about week five of every term) and wants to slam the door shut. But just keep your door open - for the moments you want a laugh, a hug or a cry - and you won’t regret it.