It’s perfectly natural

I went to a mixed state school. People turned up at 8:40am, pretended to pay attention for a while, pushed each other around at lunch time a bit, then sloped off back home to enjoy the tranquil serenity of an often empty house.

Before I came here I had a personal space bubble. I’d say approximately one metre in diameter.

But then I came to university and suddenly it all changed. Here, there are no boundaries.

Not quite that weird

Not quite that weird

Please remove your arms at the appropriate time

Please remove your arms at the appropriate time

Someone once told me it was a good idea to bring a doorstop to uni to make yourself available and approachable in a friendly sort of way they said.

But I was not prepared for the onslaught of relative strangers who after one conversation seemed to have decided that knocking was overrated, adopted a what’s-yours-is-mine attitude, and seemed to just really like playing with people’s hair.

Nor had I anticipated the multi-functionality of a bed. It becomes a place to chill, chat and, apparently, twist your limbs around people until you can no longer tell whose are whose.

Quietly putting up with it to fit in

They’re PSIs. Personal Space Invaders. I’ve encountered them before, but never on this scale. The PSI will encroach gradually during a conversation, leaning further and further in until you can feel their hot breath on your face. Sometimes I back away until I am trapped against a wall by an earnestly looming face. It is highly traumatic.

Or, they go in for what appears to be a friendly hug. This is a façade. After the contact has passed the three second mark there dawns on me the dreadful realisation that I am trapped in a cuddle. It is not as easy to get out of as you may think – PSIs are insusceptible to hints.

Nowhere is safe. One must be vigilant at all times. As soon as you sit down your lap becomes just another seating solution. People “surprise” you with a nice tight hug from behind. And it’s not just you that is at risk, it is your property too. I forgot to lock my door one day and returned to find the lads on my corridor dressed entirely in my clothes.

It starts off with just the ex-boarders. Then they wear down the defences of the others with their irritatingly infectious positivity and refusal to stay away.

jumpers are a communal space to some

Jumpers are a communal space to some

as are baths

As are baths

People who went to boarding school are tactile creatures.Their boundaries have been blurred, or in some cases erased completely. Perhaps by an unnatural separation from family at an early age. Or maybe they’re just friendlier. Who knows.

But what I do know is, it spreads like a disease. A cuddly pandemic is rife throughout my college. I think I may be becoming one of them.