A hard rain is a-gonna fall

Student Handbook Editor Paris Gourtsoyannis has some advice for those about to embark on a university career

Feature by Paris Gourtsoyannis | 28 Sep 2010

Do not waste your money on an umbrella. This is perhaps the single best piece of advice no one else will have given you when you spoke to them about coming to university in Scotland.

Why this is the case, I will come back to later. For now, simply rest assured in the knowledge that this nugget of wisdom represents the spirit we at The Skinny have approached our Student Handbook 2010: advice and resources you’re unlikely to get anywhere else, either from students who have been there themselves, or the experts who know what they’re talking about.

Being a student isn’t a passive state. Whether you’re here to achieve academically, get into the career you want, campaign for social justice, have lots of sex, meet the love of your life, or open your mind to new cultural and intellectual experiences – all of it takes agency. Simply getting this far has taken a fair bit of it: these days, thousands of qualified school-leavers don’t get any university place at all. People talk too much about doing things they regret at university; sure the greatest regret would be not taking the opportunities on offer as far and as wide as they could go.

So, throughout this guide you’ll find ways of getting involved in whatever your area of interest might be, whether its academia, art, film, international development, music, sport, or getting drunk. After leafing through the handbook, you should come away having had a crash course in the best up-and-coming movies, bands and artists populating the Scottish scene. While the first few weeks and months of university are about throwing yourself in at the deep in with new people, places and activities, eventually you want to settle in and be in the know. There’s few better places to start picking up that insider knowledge than from The Skinny.

And what about the umbrella?

While the film Braveheart will be forever reviled as an overlong hatchet-job on the history of Scotland, its most egregious bit of misinformation had nothing to do with history. Mel Gibson at one point suggests that “good Scottish rain… falls almost straight down”; good reader, let this be exposed today as the lie it is.

Scottish rain does not fall; it whips, along an almost perfect horizontal axis, invariably into your face. Umbrellas are worth about as much in Scotland as Braveheart; if you want to keep dry, invest in boots, a waterproof with a hood, and at worst, a short back-and-sides – something Mel Gibson could have done with in Braveheart, incidentally.