Forget trying to remember your student portal login details, the hardest challenge you'll face as a student is getting home for Christmas. It's much harder than it sounds (thanks to mulled wine hangovers).

It’s finally here (no, not the day you reset your student portal login details for the 78th time) but the festive season is upon us, and that means it’s the end of the semester and students everywhere are getting ready to head home and see their families, spend days eating good food, drinking good wine (not that stuff you buy for two quid from the corner shop) and visiting relatives, all full and happy and warm. Only it isn't always that simple to get home…

Stage 1 - Excitement

This is it! It’s the morning of your great journey home, and you can’t wait to see your family! Only - what’s this? It’s already midday and you’re still in bed nursing a disgusting hangover from last night’s “quiet Christmas gathering”. You roll over and find a plate of half-eaten pigs in blankets on your bedside table and a mulled wine stain on the carpet. Uh-oh.

Hungover Leslie Knope from Parks and Rec

Stage 2 - Panic

You haven’t packed. And your train is in one hour, on the other side of town. You hurriedly chuck everything you can see into a suitcase (two t-shirts - one with a suspicious stain on it - five pairs of underwear, three socks, an unwritten and slightly crumpled card for your parents) and attempt to have a shower, but there’s a queue because you live in a student house and everything is the worst. You’ll have to go without.

Stage 3 - Calm and collected

Out the door and onto the street, lugging your suitcase behind you. You’ve got a rucksack full of books and a laptop strapped to your back, the air is crisp and cold and refreshing and you’re surprisingly OK for time. You imagine yourself sauntering into the station, purchasing a coffee and leisurely boarding your train like a character in a movie. Maybe Bridget Jones, because you’ve forgotten your railcard.

Stage 4 - Panicking, again

Out the door again, this time as fast as your wobbly hangover legs can carry you. You pound through the streets, praying that one squiffy wheel doesn’t fall off your suitcase. You’ve got 9 minutes and 37 seconds. You dodge two overly-enthusiastic charity promoters, trip over a sausage dog in a christmas jumper and round the corner to find a cluster of out-of-tune carol singers blocking the station entrance.

Stage 5 - RUN!

There’s your train! You hurtle toward the barriers, shove your ticket in the slot… and it beeps red at you. You wave frantically to the station staff member who is standing nearby with tinsel wrapped around their wooly hat. They saunter over, check your ticket, ask to see your railcard, then finally let you through, with about 40 seconds to go until the train doors shut. At least you reserved a seat!

Small owl asking 'did I miss it?'

Stage 6 - Disappointment

As you get on, the train seems strangely busy… you check your ticket and shuffle your way down through the carriages to you seat… and find someone plonked in it, scoffing mince pies and looking like they own the place. Just as you muster the courage to politely ask them to MOVE, please, the driver announces that, due to a previous cancellation, there are no reservations on board. You try not to cry.

Stage 7 - A Balancing act

You’ve found a spot! Admittedly, you’re balanced on your suitcase, between a pram and a grouchy greyhound in a t-shirt that reads ‘Santa Paws’, but it’s your spot. And you are opposite the toilets, and the door keeps sliding open and closed every 30 seconds of its own accord. And you can’t see any windows.

Stage 8 - The unexpectedly long journey

Why do you parents have to live SO far away? The two-and-a-half your journey seemed like a novelty when you needed a bit of space in your first year, but now it’s just ridiculous. Also, your phone is almost out of battery, your books are too hard to read and the train is all floaty - not what you need with a queasy stomach.

Stage 9 - The wait

I mean, they knew you were coming, so how are you now waiting at a freezing station up North somewhere for your lift to arrive? In true Christmas style, the weather is trying to snow. Which means it’s sleeting on you, you can’t feel your fingers and your nose makes it look like you arrived in character as Rudolph.

Sadness from Inside Out being frozen

Stage 10 - The reunion

Finally rounding the corner - it’s your parents! How did it take them so long? You trundle over to the car, open the boot and put your stuff in. You hug mum, dad, the dog, then your younger brother. Back at the house, everything’s perfect. There’s a real tree, not one made of the insides of toilet rolls or beer cans, homemade mince pies, a cupboard full of port and sherry and all those other drinks people only drink at Christmas. It’s warm, because your parents can afford to put the heating on, and it feels like you never left.

Stage 11 - Settling in

You immediately beg your parents to wash your clothes and make them all soft and clean and nice-smelling again. You head to the fridge, and eat everything you can lay your paws on before someone yells at you for being greedy. You stroke the ancient family cat, which bites you and heads off towards the Christmas tree looking menacing. It’s almost Christmas Eve.

Stage 12 - Back to uni

You spend most of Christmas day, and the next few days and… has it been a week already? Anyway, in a stuffing and sherry induced haze of paper hats and Christmas crackers. Somehow, there are still leftovers. Suddenly, a reminder pops up on your phone - ‘Tomorrow - back to uni’! Uh-oh.

The extended Shaun the Sheep flock in the lounge drinking tea

If you liked this, then why not check out our Field Guide To All The Different Types Of Drunk You'll Be at Uni (and write your student portal password down, for goodness sakes).

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