By Alissandra De Freitas Teixeira
Liberté, égalité, but more importantly fraternité; if there is one thing the French know how to do, it’s school spirit. The English on the other hand, not so much. The only time you will see us showing any sense of collective identity is during Varsity (sort of like minicrit), where we antagonize the local poly.
“We go somewhere you don’t go, UNI, UNI” is oftentimes used, mostly because it’s not quite as insulting as “your dad works for my dad.” I never said Nottingham students were creative. The issue pertaining to a lack of school spirit is that size does matter. With over 45,000 students studying a colorful array of different subjects, it’s hard to find common ground. Unless you’re in a sports team, a society, or the UK’s best student radio, the only time we really show any form of a collective endeavour is during sports matches against Nottingham Trent. From a practical perspective it is simply impossible for us to come together as a university in the same manner as Sciences Po. Whilst you may go on a pub-crawl organised by the volleyball team, or a booze cruise set up by the Politics Society, events organised for the uni on a whole are limited. Even our balls are hosted by subjects or halls, as opposed to being organised by the university.
Sciences Po on the other hand, exhibits levels of school spirit comparable to the wildcats. From students who actually wear their uni’s hoodie to the endless events organised by the BDE and the AS, this grande école is a tight-knit community whose students pride themselves on the mutual identity they share. Moreover, the level of creativity put into university wide events by the students is fascinating, but alien to an exchanger like myself. Profile pictures, chants, and memes; if the minicuite were to be held by any UK university, this level of effort would be unheard of. It’s not that we’re any less fun, we’re just English. Speaking for Nottingham, we forget about the event until the day it takes place, frantically run around town looking for glitter to wear, and then head to the club looking like unicorns.
The minicuite deserves its own paragraph just as homage to the paramount levels of collective effort put into this night out. A spectacular hybrid between school spirit and personhood, this event is foreign to most of the exchangers. For starters, most of us who blindly signed up to the minicuite study in the UK. I’m sure you can identify the issue: School spirit, fraternité, simply unheard of! Whilst my friends and I will be bathing ourselves in blue glitter, and trying to partake in most of the events, you’ll have to bear with us. It does take some time to get your head around the never-ending memes and French chants, some of which are stupendously terrible (Tinqueux, I’m referring to you).
To conclude the notion of fraternité exhibited by Sciences Po is perplexing, but most certainly draws me in. Whilst I do love the collective nature of this university, it is simply not possible in bigger ones. Back home, your communal identity stems from the course you study, or the societies in which you partake. Aside from our friendly banter against Trent and love for Crisis, there are too many students at Nottingham making it difficult to find common interests and form a strong collective identity. Sciences Po is in my eyes the poster child for school spirit, mostly because I’m comparing it to Nottingham.
Bond themed balls, UV parties, and the minicuite; appreciate going on a night out and knowing everyone there whilst you can, your third year may be very different.
Alissandra De Freitas Teixeira is an exchange student from the University of Nottingham. Loves Macron and Macaroons almost as much as being called a feminazi. Feminista says what? runs one Thursday every month.