#LoveHE: When music comes to mind

It wasn't just the clubbing: the psychology degree and skills gained at university come in handy as a DJ, says Nemone

July 29, 2010

I can still remember stepping off the train on my first visit to the University of Manchester and feeling like I'd arrived home - even though home, my teenage home, was back across the Pennines and a few hundred miles down the M1. And they didn't have legendary temples to dance music in Cambridge - the Cinderella Rockafella nightclub was certainly a very distant relative to the Hacienda. Over the next three years, the John Rylands Library would show its charms, nestled behind the student union with the concrete high-rises of Hulme looming above. But it was to the bright lights of the city of Manchester we were drawn, once we'd closed our books and shut down whatever microfiche we were using to prepare for that week's lecture.

I loved studying psychology at Manchester, and I feel it has informed so many facets of my life since then. I wanted to immerse myself in a big city, and the moment I set foot in Manchester I knew I'd found my home for the next few years. It may sound odd, given that I'd visited only a few universities to have a look around, but Manchester was the one that made sense to me and immediately felt right. Part of the reason was its musical heritage and its clubs; it was so far removed from my experiences of the music scene in Cambridge.

Admittedly, Manchester didn't have the student radio station it does today - or at least not one that made it on to my radar among all the other distractions. Nevertheless, I would say that my experiences in Manchester enabled me to get where I am today, and I have the university to thank for that.

When I was there, I made a point of getting involved in societies, such as the student arm of the Fat City record label. There were several societies built around clubs - we would be first in line for tickets to see the bands that were playing and the club nights they put on.

I was also involved in sport and competed for the local club I'd always admired, Sale Harriers. I ran the athletics club while I was in my second year at university, and involvement in all those activities has helped me since I left.

What I loved about Manchester was that it was a city university, rather than just a campus, and you could really get stuck in to living somewhere other than home, away from your parents. The skills I gained from those years have stayed with me for life. And let's face it - university is only partly about the course being studied. You learn about paying your own bills, having to consider other people, getting your rent in on time and all those other everyday life skills. And I met some of my closest friends, people who are still my best mates nearly 20 years later.

My course also comes in handy in everyday life: psychology, after all, is the study of people, and you could say that working in radio means that I use my psychology degree daily. I still employ the skills I learned at Manchester when researching interviews for my show on 6 Music.

I have thought about doing further study in psychology - possibly a master's degree at some point - although the thought of studying again does scare me. Every year when the A-level results come out, I empathise - I have a recurring nightmare in which, for whatever reason, I didn't attend any of my developmental-psychology lectures, the exam is looming and I have to borrow my friend's notes, but somehow she doesn't have them either. I can easily imagine how stressful it is for students sitting exams today. But despite my nightmares, I would never say "never again".

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