Slowly one by one and sometimes even in pairs they enter the corridor, gliding awkwardly scanning the doors and walls searching for clues as to where they are headed. They stop at the end of the corridor where all the others who came before had stood to a halt. There are no seats some slump against the walls others just collapse on the floor as if standing was too much of an effort. They wait in silence.
Some bored already, after a few minutes, rummage through their bags desperately seeking refuge from the uneasiness of being surrounded by complete strangers. Many have a book at hand for such situations, others find entertainment in their mobile phones whilst the rest choose to stare at the walls avoiding eye contact.
Whether they are “reading”, sending an SMS or staring at nothing they are all fully aware of what’s happening around them yet they try and seem as uninterested as possible. Whenever somebody walks up the corridor heads turn, and the victim knows they are being judged.
The sound of footsteps comes from the stairs a young man appears at the opposite end of the corridor. Heads turn slowly as they hear him coming. He is wearing trousers several sizes too big, his hair in blond dreadlocks. However unlike many of the others he seems confident, he walks casually up the corridor hands in pockets and as if time did not exist. When he reaches the end of the corridor he leans against the wall and smiles to himself for he knows he has fooled everyone. He knows he’s made an impression the others think he’s laid back and more importantly not intimidated by the others and maybe even think he’s cool and all he’s done is walk in.
The next person was a woman she walked in but stopped casually to glance at a sign on the wall. Her stride more relaxed and slower than some of the others rather like that of a woman in her forties. Her long coat and shoes like that of a mature woman but; when she turns; her face shows something different, there are no signs of ageing as you’d expect from seeing her fuller figure in those clothes. Her complexion is that of woman no older than 25. But in the corridor of this establishment she seems out of place. Out of place when compared to the other skinny girls in their tight bootleg denim trousers, tailored jackets and chunky boots. She is aware of the icy glares from the other women yet they don’t seem to bother her, she knows she’s different but she accepts it.
A few minutes later the door opens a dozen young people walk out. Those already in the corridor stay hovering whilst the others rush out. Slowly they make their way in carefully selecting who to sit by. Those already seated make an effort to seem friendly hoping somebody sits beside them so they don’t end up looking like a looser.
Once the door closes everything seems different. The people seem much more at ease. They’ve all been brought together by this common goal. Now they have accepted each other and their differences. Now the first lecture of term can start.