It’s in the trio of most commonly asked questions during freshers’, and returns with every new acquaintance at the beginning of your university life. That question sandwiched between “What’s your name?” and “What are you studying?” It’s a common, easily-asked, even easier-answered ice breaker which was somewhat more difficult for me. The “Where are you from?” was answered with some hindrance: an awkward silence from the dozens of askers as I answered: “ … Essex.”

Looking back now on my amazing first year at university, I’ve mastered the art of cynical humour with my answer to this simple question. Amidst the “Essex girl” banter and chorus of “omg shuutttt upppppppps” I hear being chanted at me despite my lack of extensions, tan, and (in my opinion) “Essex accent”, I assure you that despite the inevitable mocking, I have learnt to rise above it. Literally, to – Norwich is higher up on the map than Essex.

The world that is intentionally commercialised on Towie may seem as enhanced as everyone describes it, yet despite the occasional groups of “wannabees” dotted around, Essex is far from a mirror reflection of its stereotypical image.

On coming home for Easter during first year, I pondered over a question asked in one of my seminars asking us to think of any authors, or literature, with historical ties to our hometowns. I was was reluctant when asked this question, possibly due to the answers called out on my behalf such as “Amy Child’s autobiography”.

To be fair, it got some laughs, but an insightful chat with my Grandad confirmed that Essex is in fact full of history and culture which, for me at least, softens the blows of the “Essssiiiiiiiiiixxxx” banter. Essex inhabits a historical market, gorgeous countryside manors, visits from Elizabeth I and Henry VIII, and is full of glowing artistic talent. What’s Towie got on that?

It’s no secret that watching Towie is the guiltiest pleasure I have, which I’ve discovered may be the catalyst for half the mockery I get. However, as I approached the end of my fantastic freshers’ rollercoaster I learnt that no matter where you’re from, you are bound to receive some playful banter.

Let’s face it: when life gives you these lemons … well, you’re at university now, put them in a drink or something and just laugh! That’s certainly what I do now. After all, who else is going to stand up for the county when people assume we’re all fake-Burberry adorned Vicky Pollards? (That’s right, Towie night LCR. I’ll never forget your ill-advised decorations.)

Cassetteboy Vs The Only Way Is Essex