A Perspective from a first year on what not to do around the Castle in the first weeks of school.
Let’s back this up a bit shall we? So we started our journey off as first years with a school supply list, a few galleons and some change in Diagon Alley where we had our very first introduction to the Wizarding World. Meeting and greeting all ranks of students during the dedicated Shopping weekend, Diagon Alley is a wizard’s dream- full of everything magical from candy to books to flying brooms to even a wand seller. Standing in lines to get into the shops listening to older kids running around and getting reacquainted and even meeting some of them as you ran from store to store gathering things on the list.
Recommendation #1: stock up on the soup.
Recommendation #2: buy used books.
(( Not booking an appointment to be matched with for a wand was an oversight on my part, but is definitely one of my regrets. The trials and mishaps of other students being paired with a wand were definitely of epic proportions and definitely looked like everyone had a great time finding their perfectly matched wand. Luckily, the shelves were easily rebuilt and the poor plant is now in its original condition. OOC Regret #1: Book a wand appointment. ))
We all depart from the glorious days of shopping to be thrown through a wall on platform 9 3/4. Leading us into what seems like another dimension with a ton of shuffling from the parents and kids saying their goodbyes and just getting settled and loaded up. Maybe you have friends to find on the train, maybe you don’t. Maybe you have money leftover for the snack cart lady, maybe you don’t. (Hence, the tip about buying used books..)
Aboard the train you get put into the cars and off you go traveling to the next destination- the Castle! The Trolley lady does sell snacks for a fee, but watch your elbows as she comes through. This ride also came equipped with a fireworks show- talk about building anticipation.
While you are busy comparing what you got (and forgot) to your new friends and classmates on the train, it all ends too quickly and you need to be in full uniform attire- with robe, hat and perfectly tied tie- on a moving train with no dressing rooms. Recommendation #3: Pack this at the top of your suitcase!
The Train comes to a halt at the station as the Conductor calls for unloading and the massive crowd forms right there in a town known as Hogsmeade. Eyes are bright and full of life thinking we have arrived at another magical town to shop in, but instead called to the meeting bridge for firsties, separated from any of your older friends. You get to watch as all the older kids make their way through the town onto a carriage and are whisked away to the Castle. Meanwhile your fellow firsties are led down a hill to a boat yard, which inevitably has a slew of boats and are instructed to pile into these tiny boats to be taken to the Castle by Sea. Who doesn’t like a little bit of sea water in their shoes or sopping wet robes from climbing from shore to boat on their first day in a new world, right?
Another solid regret (regret #2) would be putting the socks on at any point prior to reaching the Castle Grounds. Otherwise, you risk making the trek up an innumerable number of stairs with wet socks and shoes. Although the squishing sound and pruned toes makes for a good memory.
Don’t let my writings fool you though. The Trip here was epically magical, assuming you had a strong row team on your boat, coming around out of the enclave to see this beautiful castle that looks like a painting on a wall at a museum. You just look up in heaps of excitement and anticipation in your eyes as the Castle comes into focus as the boat nears. Lights flickering from the windows, the rolling hills of green leading up to it and not to mention the centuries of time it has endured- still looking as amazing as ever. Gets you rightly excited seeing it for the first time and makes it way more memorable as well.
There you are standing in line with all the other first years waiting to go through these epic doors that tower over you. Out of the doors comes a tall lanky pale lady with dark black hair and an eye that looks like it was dead with no colour to it all but matched the paleness of her skin. You quickly figure out she’s not one to mess with as she is the Deputy Head Mistress of the school and probably will serve up some righteous detention if she ever catches you acting a fool. Her voice echoes out sending chills through your body as you try not to stare at her eye that is colourless. After she makes her introduction, the doors behind her open and you make your first entrance into THE Great Hall!
Recommendation #3: make sure you are tucked in and straightened up, all prim and proper or risk being called out before even being sorted!
The magical room has 4 long tables, each in a different house colour. At this point things get even more cool because in front of you is this old patched up Hat that comes to life and just starts Singing and what looks like a dance, if hats could dance. You stand there in an expression of pure amazement as you watch all this, bobbing your head along. One by one, the first years are called up to the stool by the Deputy Headmistress of the Castle. Whom by the way if you want to make the Regret List call her Ma’am or Madam and see what happens to you (recommendation #4).
After your name is called, the hat gets sat atop your head. The Hat comes to life mumbling in your ears or perhaps It’s invading your mind cause it seems he’s talking loud but for some reason only you can hear it mumbling until it shouts the name of your House for all to hear.
Very exciting to be assigned a House. You rush over to your newly assigned table and meet all the others called before you and the cheering older years. If there ever was a regret here, one student did make it and they wore colours to the house they truly wanted to be in, only to have the hat call out a different house for them to go to. Talk about embarrassing to be wearing green to then have to go to the Red table….oof
Regret #3: don’t assume anything when it comes to sorting. Not my personal regret but I sure bet that student regretted it. Hmmm.. Come to think about it, I’m not sure what happened to him – I don’t recall seeing him abouts in the last couple weeks.
After you get done with an epic meal that just appears before your eyes at a table (magic!) you get shuffled up to your common room which leads to dorms. Here is where you get to meet the people you will see day in and day out every time you sleep and wake. Fortunately, I ended up with 2 I had met prior in the summer over in Godric’s Hollow so I was quite content with my bunk mates. Getting things settled in and unpacked and sorted through you start chatting and gossiping and just getting to know one another.
Recommendation #5: pick a bed quickly!
In this time, you realise you have a person who also is growing antsy at all the reading of spells and wanting to try them out. which brings us to regret #4. Learning this as you go can require one to have the patience of a Saint as you need proper guidance. But, anywho, so you and your bunk mate on the second night of being in the castle set off to do a little bit of exploring around the castle and you end up finding a room called duelling. You think nothing of this and you walk in and start looking around and a platform appears in the middle of the floor as you both take to the side. Another first year joins on the sideline to cheer you on as you sit there holding wands to one another saying spells that you have read about but have no clue if it will do anything or not.
Time stands still as you are standing on the platform focused on what you have read about ever since you bought the books in the Alley. The first person casts a spell and then you cast one back to defend and if you defend successfully you cast a spell sending it back to the other person. The only rule you really know at this point is the first person to three successful hits wins. After the back and forth, back and forth, back and forth the winner is named and the time has slipped to an hour past curfew.
Appearing through the door as you’re jumping off a stage is a professor just as tall and lanky as the Deputy Head Mistress but this one has both eyes with colour so you think you might be fine. After all, it is the second night in the castle they have to expect with the lack of interaction with the Head of Houses that first years don’t possibly know all the rules, right!? You think to yourself: Smirking this will just be a slap on the wrist and off you go back to your dorms.
That was Regret #5, 6 and 7 all wrapped into one scenario. First, thinking this was a ‘sorry it won’t happen again’ moment to it being ‘hand over your wand and being served detention’ moment. Second, the Innocent Cheerleader on the sideline who may have forgotten to drink their calming draught, starts firing off at the professor standing in front of you the minute she asks for the wands, names, and house. Third, assuming detention wouldn’t be that bad in your first week of school. Yeah all these happen to be personal regrets and I can say it’s not so fun running around without a wand, let alone having to scrub teacups and run laps around the school a few times. Nothing like a first impression made on your Head of House is them having to re-issue your wand after the second dish of detention gets served up either.
As a first year though, they don’t tell you these things until after the fact. Like how were any of us supposed to know we should have had an older student with us before trying spells, preferably a prefect? We went from the first day of being shuffled around to being completely free to roam about as we pleased. Not like there is a set of rules etched into the walls stating any of this when you enter a room. Guess some lessons have to be learned the hard way- at least that was the case for us. We were also never told about the curfew: no going outside of the castle after 8 pm and must be in your dorm room or House common area after 10 pm. That would have been helpful to know. Which brings me to Recommendation #5 and 6.. er, never mind.
The next regret would be showing up to classes not in appropriate uniforms…. Not sure how much of this topic we really need to chat about since there has been a fair share of mishaps so far in the first week of classes. That’s all that has been talked about lately. Sunday Lunch starting with an entire scolding of uniform code and what to wear and not to wear I think just about covered this nicely enough. I bet those last week who thought to be stylish and carefree already regret not being in the correct attire the Professors requested.
The last and final regrets are not my own sadly but I’m sure they are of some others. Probably not best to eat paper and fling muffins in a classroom while a professor is giving out and going over the syllabus on your first time in their class. Just saying perhaps grab a snack in the common room before heading out for art class.
For the First years that haven’t had to witness any of these things or have yet to be on the receiving end of any of this, keep doing what you are doing cause it seems that you have it figured out better than some of us do. For the rest of us magnets for trouble, perhaps we should get better at getting away with such things so they don’t end up on a regret list later on.. and if you are a first year trying to figure things out still, don’t hesitate or be afraid to ask some of the older ones floating around- you will be surprised at how kind hearted most of the older students can be in aiding a first year in the right directions.
– Raylen Night