Colleges and Universities

Did you really just…? Lectures, part 3.

Exams and Christmas holidays behind me, I can get back to my normal routine of people-watching in my lectures.

So I was in Psychology, near the back because I tend to fade pretty quickly about twenty minutes into psych lectures, and these girls behind me would not shut up. Simple chatter and whispering would’ve been annoying enough to document, but these girls were repeatedly whining “I don’t understand this, this makes no sense.” This is irritating to say the least, but as the lecture continued they got progressively louder and whinier “I don’t gettttt ittttt.” I think it’s fascinating that these ladies don’t understand it to the point of verbally expressing this to the neighbouring 5 rows above and below and yet when the lecturer repeatedly asks for questions throughout the lecture they don’t bother to raise issue.

Well done dears, nice to see we’re making good use of £6,000 a term. And good luck in your exams, not that you’ll need it.

One of the most noticeably embarrassing incidents that happened in a lecture was actually in a creative writing/poetry reading thing one night after most normal lectures had finished. There was some sort of mix up with the room bookings and once we finally found somewhere to gather we all sat down and the man leading the event started to speak and say his piece. At this point it became evident that a steady trickle of asian students began to leak out of the room, unfortunately for them the only exit path meant they had to squeeze through several makeshift rows of seats and skulk right past the man speaking.

This became increasingly amusing to watch, before long most of the room had switched off on the poetry at hand and were simply observing these reddening faces try to quietly shuffle their way out of the room, with each effort though they only made themselves more obvious to everyone who was intent on staying. You know it’s bad when the lecturer has to stop and declare:

Ok, everyone who wants to leave, leave now. That’s right, off you go, now’s your chance.

At this point a whole row of concealed asians rose from the back and in one massive sigh of relief they slipped out like some kind of comical Scooby Doo characters making their escape from a crime scene.

After a flurry of awkward waves and silently mouthed apologies, the poor guy at the front began to talk again. Such a train wreck from the outset. He then told us about a time when he was booked to speak somewhere and only two people showed up, not knowing whether or not this couple had travelled to see them he decided to carry on regardless. All credit to him he was certainly humbling.

One misfortune that happened to myself during a quieter tutorial setting (the difference being a lecture has upwards of 100 people, a tutorial has around 12-15). We’d all sat down, the tutor had begun to introduce this term’s topics and work schedules and, being the studious person I am, decided to open my MacBook to take notes.

In doing so I’d completely forgotten that while getting ready that very morning, I had shut the laptop in my haste to leave and so on opening it I was blasted with whatever I was listening to at the time, full volume. I think it was Paloma Faith’s Can’t Rely On You, the similarities to Blurred Lines are now deeply burnt into my memory banks as the embarrassment very quickly peaked and shattered previously recorded embarrassment levels in the space of seconds.

Lesson learnt, always make sure you close all windows before re-opening your laptop in an academic setting. I’m just glad it happened in a tutorial session with a limited number of people rather than the lecture straight after, that would’ve been so bad I might have walked out in shame.

Well, that’s all for this instalment of lecture shenanigans, hope you enjoyed! Hopefully there won’t be as long a gap between the next one now that I’m back in Uni mode.

Did you really just…? Student canteen.

So there’s a student canteen near my lecture halls, it’s becoming quite a crutch to the success of a day. If I don’t get my cup of tea between lectures I’ll fall asleep, period. I’ll just konk out mid-sentence and my nose will press the ‘g’ key and fill the page with a billion of them.

Anyway, the stuff I see my fellow students getting up to. Some of it I even find it hard to believe…and I’m sitting watching it!

Like this one girl, she was on the phone to a friend of hers explaining why she didn’t go out the night before and this is how it went:

so yeah I didn’t go out last night because my friend, well, her friend died. Yeah, she was our age. Basically, she got hit by a lorry. I know, right? Anyway, so that’s why I didn’t go out because my friend wanted to stay in. So I had to stay with her…I know. So annoying.

I was stunned. I was listening in on this in absolute awe at how completely ridiculous this girl was being. At the same time though it was absolutely hilarious, you couldn’t make it up.

Then just as she finished, a guy sat down at the same table as me but on the opposite side and opens a rather large Tupperware box. Inside this box was a chicken, this guy just whaps out this full chicken and starts demolishing it. This chicken was getting destroyed, completely annihilated. Just…what can I say? I think I have to just leave that one there. Massive chicken, devouring, end.

Another thing I see LOADS of people doing and not just in the canteen but mainly for a toilet trip; people leave their stuff wherever they were sitting and dander off to the loo for five to ten minutes. This leaves their laptop, phone, bag, coat, all the things, just lying there for anyone to take.

Just, WHY?!

This isn’t even being trusting, this is being stupid. Just stupid, I should be obligated to take that girl’s belongings simply because she leaves them there for the world to pinch. Stupid. I don’t understand how anyone can leave a laptop of any kind just lying on a table in a canteen full of strangers who could all benefit from the additional infusion of cash they’d get from trading that in to a pawn shop.

So, in closing (for now), rude girls, monstrous men and stupid people. The student canteen. I thank you.

Did you really just…? Lectures, part 2.

So already we’ve had people painting their nails and making rather choice interjections…ahem. Moving on from that, since then there have been a number of questionable activities going on in lectures that I just have to highlight for you kind reader folk!

First up happened a few weeks ago, well, it’s ongoing really. I’m prone to a bit of ‘multitasking’, (you could call it that) or getting distracted…as most would probably call it. So, naturally, while typing away I might just open up Facebook or WordPress to see how the world is getting on and of course I’ll open up a video or two; just the usual stuff: cats squeezing into boxes far too small, large people falling over. It was only recently I realised at the end of a psychology lecture that the entire four rows behind me, all female, had completely switched off on the lecture and were solely focused on joining me in watching a baby eat it’s way out of a watermelon. Cutest thing ever, but I had no idea I had an audience! It was so amusing to turn around and see four rows of “awwh”-stricken faces!

Next peculiarity happened this week. I’d perched myself high up, near the back of a lecture hall so as to avoid awkward lecturer-student eye contact. My friends noticed it before I did, the entire row was shaking in a back and forth motion. It got so bad to the point that you couldn’t write in a straight line. Eventually we singled out one fellow sitting in the row in front that had the same rhythm as our row. His arm was under the desk, all I’m saying.

Ok, he was clearly jittering his leg, but it wasn’t immediately obvious! And yes, I know what you were thinking, reader…and you should be ashamed of yourself!

(We were all thinking it, don’t worry).

Anyway, in the same lecture (once the guy in front got tired) we turned to our right and our eyes fell on a girl, in the middle of the hall, shamelessly KNITTING. Full on killer knitting needles and a big ball of wool just click clacking away! I’d quite happily put that in the bizarre category alongside the lass that likes to paint her nails. What goes through someone’s head to make them think:

Oh, do you know what would be an effective use of my time, now? Catching up on my knitting, winter’s coming after all.

I must say, these quirky folk do make lectures interesting. I certainly have my eyes peeled for more shenanigans going on, leave a comment down below if you’ve ever seen someone doing something that was just plain weird in a rather formal setting. Thanks again for reading!

Did you really just…? Lectures.

I see some ridiculous things day-to-day, but sometimes people really take the biscuit. Lecture theatres are a perfect example of an isolated situation in which I can relate with everyone around me when someone does something stupid. Here are just a few examples:

I was in an English Literature lecture and I started to think I could smell nail polish; knowing this was the last place I’d smell it I waved it off as one of those random smells you just can’t quite place. Then I looked down to the row in front of me and sure enough, to the right, a girl was sitting painting her nails a metallic purple for the entire hall to witness and whiff. The smell was pungent to say the least but the very fact she thought this was, not even just appropriate, but productive to her own studies was hilarious to myself and my peers around me. When she’d finished coating herself in this noxious liquid, she realised she couldn’t type or touch the screen on her relatively new laptop. So she sat and flailed while she missed the best chunk of the lecture. I personally had to hold my nose, not from the smell, just to stop myself from chuckling at her misfortune.

It’s always tense when someone leaves early during a lecture. I’ve never had to, so far, thankfully; but for the people who have to regularly really don’t make it easy for themselves. There was a girl in an English Language lecture that plonked herself down  right in the middle of a row with no easy way to leave early. Generally, I assume, people leave five minutes early to go to another lecture across campus that starts when the current one ends and so they need travel time but help yourself out, people. If you know you have to leave, sit at the end of a row near the door. This girl made the entire row stand up so she could squeeze past with her unnecessarily large bag, so unnecessary for everyone involved. I know that I, with my ounce of humility, would’ve sat through it and just embraced being late to the next lecture; rather than cause that ruckus.

The worst example of someone being absolutely stupid in a lecture so far is, sadly, a result of my own actions. I was in an English Language lecture, we were parsing a sentence (basically, splitting it into nouns, verbs, adjectives, phrases, clauses etc) and the example sentence was: “Tom’s chair broke because he sat on it” or something to that extent. The lecturer was analysing what that sentence was made up of and what it needed to make it a certain type of clause/phrase collective and he said: “So, Tom is a noun and he’s speaking about his chair which is also a noun but what does Tom need to make this a sentence?”

To that I answered (out loud I might add), in front of 150+ people: “a better chair.”

It was one of those horrid moments when you think ‘did I just say that out loud?’ I wanted to curl up into a ball and only emerge when people had long forgotten this cringe-worthy moment. There was a deafening silence for about five seconds, which felt like forever, and the lecturer replied “…yes, that’s a pragmatic approach but I was looking for a verb.” He was a decent guy and ran with it but I felt so idiotic. Shut up next time, Jonathon; keep your thoughts to yourself!

An arts course…what are you going to do with that?

I’m guessing the majority of arts students dread the question “What exactly are you going to do with your chosen subject?” and I can confidently say I am part of that majority. This is when the verbal waffle-irons heat up and I talk my way out of a rather awkward situation.

Well, actually, you see, there are many career paths I can progress towards when I finish my four years of study. Such as, you ask? Well…

Jobs are hard to come by, I do understand, the economy isn’t in great shape. However, I still think arts related careers are as pertinent, if not more so, than they’ve ever been. In the past few years I’ve gotten to know several people who are successful in what they do creatively, they’re an inspiration, to be truthful. To see someone making money from genuine hard work is rather refreshing after hearing about yet another banker’s spending scandal.

I have plenty of ideas of what to do when I finish University, as many of us students do. Blogging for example, I’ve toyed with the idea of making money from blogging for years, partly why I’ve started again. That doesn’t mean it has to happen, but writing something is always motivational towards the end goal of somehow making money from the words I tie together.

The current goal, is to get published in print. Be it for a newspaper, a magazine, or a fully fledged novel in the future. I want to be able to hold my own work in my hands having had it approved and sent off by someone else who is willing to stand by it. Reading just makes me want this more, to think every novel or magazine I hold is a perfect testimony to the fact that it happens, people get published every day and millions of books are put into print. If their dreams can come true, why not mine?

I was in a lecture a few weeks ago and the man speaking was analysing a poem (a rather beautiful poem at that) to eventually reveal he was the poet behind it. We see careers possible from an arts degree every day, I think we don’t realise until it’s pointed out exactly where the work is. Even the most simple of things like an advertisement on the side of a bus, someone had to come up with whatever words are strewn across it, meaning someone got paid for that.

So when someone asks me “what are you going to do with that?” in that snarky ‘I’ll have fries with that‘ tone, it’s so obvious to me what I want to say…the words just aren’t there due to surprise that it isn’t obvious to everyone else.