Alright, I know I just wrote a back-to-school post, but I didn’t realize this special day was coming up. Yesterday, September 1st, was the day Harry Potter and all the other Hogwarts students would have to get on the Hogwarts Express and head back to school. Right now, the little first years are probably surprised they made it through their first night in this crazy castle and all the returning students are happily reuniting with friends and yawning through their professors reading the course syllabus. If we’re talking the year 2016, I bet a bunch of muggle born wizards are probably bemoaning the lack of cell phone reception and wondering how the heck they’re supposed to play Pokemon Go out there.
That’s one of the things that I always wondered about Hogwarts. Really, I wondered it about a lot of the fictional schools for magic or supernatural arts I read about in so many YA and children books, but Hogwarts has a notable population of students from something like our world. The school isn’t in a fantasy world completely different from our own, like Unseen University in Discworld, or only accessible to people born into the more magical sides of life, like the Institutes in Cassandra Clare’s Shadowhunter series. Technically, the Potter series takes place in the nineties, so you wouldn’t have new muggle born students complaining about cell reception. Still, I feel like there definitely should’ve been more students complaining about having to use quills and parchment roles instead of ball point pens and notebooks like sane people, or maybe smuggling in walkmans, but Rowling remained frustratingly quiet on that front. Is being able to turn mice into teacups so fun that you really don’t miss being able to take notes with a simply clicky pen?
If it was bad in the nineties, I can only imagine having to be a student at Hogwarts now. The idea of an eleven year old who is probably used to typing essays on a computer suddenly being faced with a quill and rolls, not even pages but rolls, of parchment is crazy.
Also, I’m positive Hogwarts does not have a wifi network set up, and I’ve never heard the Scottish countryside praised for it’s stellar phone reception. I can’t imagine all those magic enchantments on the school that cut it off from the outside world make it any easier. Sure, Dean Thomas probably missed watching soccer matches on TV, but today’s students would have to deal with missing Twitter, Snapchat, Facebook, and all the other ways they used to be able to instantaneously stay in touch with the outside world. I can imagine one wizard with muggle friends crafting a statement each year, explaining how it’s off to their mysterious, remote boarding school so no social media at all for the rest of the school year.
I would be absolutely fascinated to hear about any way Hogwarts has gotten around this strange block. Maybe the Muggle Studies department made it a project to install internet for some people to use so there’s no explaining the strange radio silence of so many students. Maybe they just got around to installing magical pay phones. Maybe some professors are lenient enough that a student could turn in an essay written in a gel pen on notebook paper taped into a roll and they’d only raise an eyebrow. I don’t know for sure, but some of this stuff must be happening in a wizarding world forced to confront muggle advances.
Honestly, as much as I fantasized about going to Hogwarts as a kid, learning magic and having my own owl, I just don’t think I could do it without some serious trouble. It’s not just that, at age eleven, I would’ve balled my eyes out at being sent away from my family for months on end. There would be such a culture shock and, frankly, too many useful muggle devices I could not live without, no matter how many magical substitutes I could find.
Seriously, I’d like for you to take a moment right now and honestly consider whether you could give up all the stuff you have in your cushy muggle life and try your luck at Hogwarts without breaking down and getting into a fight with a “proper” wizard about the pointlessness of their faux medieval aesthetic.