I've just spent time in a university city. Not Auckland; this was a town so far south that credit freeze referred to the way one's Visa card iced over between pocket and money machine.

Its students raised several questions in my mind.

Yes, I appreciate that students are meant to do that, but these were mainly non-academic questions.

For example, why did so many of these intelligent, ambitious, idealistic, no-consumer-society's-gonna-manipulate-my-mind young people smoke?


Will they ever give up souveniring orange road cones and displaying them on student-flat verandas?

How did they come up with such brilliant alternative ideas as rolling numbered Jaffas down the nation's steepest street in a charity fundraiser?

Was it the excitement of keeping up to date with the most recent micro-seconds of academic research that made them stop to check their cellphones every 50 paces?

Since the daily vocabulary of the average educated person consists of some 3000 words, how is it that every second word of theirs was "like"?

I realise the student body have to show their student bodies but why, as a southern winter approached, did so many of them dress in scarves, woolly hats, gloves and ear-muffs - plus bare midriffs and bare feet in thong sandals?

How come none of them had ever seen a pedestrian crossing?

When there was a dry path winding through a grassy glade, why on rainy mornings did so many of them still walk across the grass, trampling it and soaking their feet?

What made the skin of so many of them look as if it was lit from within?

For a group so committed to environmental causes, why did the front lawns and yards of their student flats resemble capsized garbage trucks?

Since they presumably came to university to open their eyes and ears, what was the reason for lots of them wearing dark shades over those eyes and Walkman headphones over those ears?

Was it only the philosophy students (who had learned that all matter - including other vehicles - is an illusion) who rode bikes with no lights at night?

How was it that five minutes after slummocking, swearing and spitting outside a university theatre in a way that made you want to slug them, they could appear inside and sing, dance or act in a way that made you want to hug them?

Why did they always carry their book-stuffed backpacks over one shoulder, thus maiming innocent passers-by as the bags and they came swinging around corners?

How could they sit in cafes with legs, arms and spines bent like staples? Weren't they worried about joint problems when they turned 50?

When will they realise that telling the local newspaper they spend as much money on beer as they do on rent only makes grown-ups sigh tolerantly?

In 2033, 2043 and so on, what strange student syndromes will they be shaking their mature, responsible heads over?