University

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.

2013, A Summary: Quotes of note.

Every now and again someone says something or I read something and it really resonates. It doesn’t happen often, not truly, but when it does it sticks in my head and I remember it. So here are some of the quotes from this year that have meant a lot:

Gatsby? What Gatsby?

I think I can speak on behalf of myself and a few of my friends when I say this was our mostly highly anticipated film of 2013. After studying the novel for a year as the first half of my A-Levels I felt a connection to the wonderful world of words married together by F. Scott Fitzgerald. It was a definite must watch and when I did, it exceeded all expectations.

I cried most of the way through it, either that or I was verging on tears. It was beautiful, not only were there a fantastic range of actors and actresses but the visuals were stunning. The story itself wraps around my heart strings and tugs for the full two hours and twenty minutes.

I could have very easily quoted the entire film because there are so many poignant lines, most of them spoken by Daisy, that really struck me. This one though umbrellas all of them. The thought of someone from your past suddenly falling back into place and being flung back to a time where you were truly happy, highlighting just how unhappy you are presently. The thought is heartbreaking, as is the entire film. But this idea sticks for me. Incredible.

Yes, you have a place.

This quote is an email from the admissions office in Glasgow University. Note the lack of social etiquette or any kind of professional trimmings you’d expect from a University representative. Results day had obviously taken it’s toll on all of us because the email in it’s entirety was simply the above quote.

This is because, in context, I’d been hounding the admissions office for hours on end. This was in the heat of results day, I’d been rejected definitively and rather harshly from Lancaster and within the space of a few hours my future hung in the balance. Everything depended on a yes from Glasgow. Evidently I got it, but for several hours I was sick with the thought of going nowhere.

I’d called them thousands of times, and that’s no exaggeration. I was sitting in the school library with a desk phone in one hand and my iPhone in the other and I was just constantly pressing redial every time it failed to connect. I couldn’t have expected anything more, everyone who’d failed to get into their firm choice was doing the exact same. Eventually I sent them an email in desperation, they replied with something semi-positive but vague like “you’ll hear officially from UCAS tonight” which wasn’t enough. I needed solid confirmation. So I asked for it to be spelt out and voila, that short, rather abrupt email hitched my wagon to a place in Glasgow University.

So the above quote encapsulates the ultimate feeling of relief and panic suddenly leaving my body all in one swift sentence.

You chose your heart over your head, and your head triumphed!

Of course I have to include a line from one of the most quotable figures in my secondary school. A past English teacher of mine, suddenly turned prophetic in a moment of absolute clarity in regards to my future education.

I’m not saying choosing Lancaster University as my firm choice was a wrong decision, but it was right that I ended up at Glasgow.

I’d fallen in love with the idea of Lancaster and what it could’ve held in store. It was remote and it was safe, security was definitely to be found in Lancaster, which is what I felt I needed at the time when I had to make the decision. Was it the right place for me then? I guess I’ll never know, which is for the best.

It’s evident to me now that Glasgow University was the best thing that could’ve happened to me. I needed out, I needed escape, independence and Glasgow was my clean slate with no dirty laundry or skeletons in the closet waiting for me.

This quote taught me that I know what I want, but what’s important is what I need. I think this is a battle a lot of is face at times, when what we want is right in front of us but to grow we need to turn to the thing that’s farther away and go for that which we need.

I made it.

These were the first words uttered in my new room, my new life, in Glasgow. I’d spent all day travelling and I was knackered. Most people who know me will know I’m not one for crying in front of others. I like to stay strong in the moment and deal with the emotions later, privately. So when I said goodbye to my mum and my sister I kept it together and held it in. After a stressful couple of hours on the road, however I was ready to break. And so when I burst into my new home, I dumped my bags, called my mum and I burst into tears.

I couldn’t even say it at first, but she knew what I wanted to say: I made it.

Not taking shit from anyone, not depending on people, this year is my year. Bring it on.

These were the closing words in my very first diary entry on the 31st December 2012. I’d decided the year just gone was a complete and utter write-off and that 2013 was going to be better. I think I can safely say without a doubt that it was. It took a while to turn it around but it blossomed into an amazing few months from the beginning of summer onwards.

I felt it was poetic to end this post with the quote that began it all in 2013. It was a year of self-discovery, a year of independence, and most importantly it was my year.

The money situation, so far.

I like to think I have a pretty good grasp on money. I’ve always had enough for what I need thanks to a Mum who has done everything in her power to provide, and most of the time I’ve saved enough of my own money to be able to get what I want as well. This is the mindset I came to university with.

I was wrong.

Not even an entire summer full time job could’ve prepared my bank account enough for what came in the first few weeks. Not only did I eat out more than I cooked, I treated myself to the latest iPhone. So there’s £549 gone in the blink of an eye.

I’ll be honest and say I’ve actually regretted buying it because it’s put such a spanner in the works, that’s 5 weeks of living expenses gone in a day. It’s really starting to bug me, I’ll remember this for the next time I’m tempted by something shiny.

Despite the initial blow to the bank account I’d levelled it out, spending had reached an all-time low and was only buying what I needed. At times I was even under budget!

Then the worst happened. Frustrated with the thought of having to do two essays in a weekend I had a steady supply of tea running through my system, sometimes I feel I should have it on a drip of some sort. Anyway, I’d just made a fresh one and set it down and yes, the unthinkable happened.

It spilled.

All over my MacBook.

Disaster.

The immediate dabbing and absorbing followed suit but eventually I progressed through denial, anger, bargaining, depression and quickly proceeded to acceptance. So as a result the device works fine for now but apparently over an ambiguous amount of time will die a slow and painful death, and now my wallet was about to feel the pain.

After going to apple, and finding out that to repair said damage would cost £750, I thought to myself:

No way, I’ll take my chances with the rust, thanks.

So now I have to rustle up the bulk of a grand to fix the consequence of a messy desk. No more ready meals and Starbucks, hello 15p noodles. I can do it, I can not-spend £750, it’ll be quite the challenge but I’ll manage somehow.

This has gone on quite a tangent, but you see what I’m getting at. Unexpected costs can spring out of a simple cup of tea. That warmth you hold so dear can have a heart of absolute icy stone if you let it.

Moral of the story? Don’t trust your hot beverages.

But really though, always have money saved for emergencies when you’re a student (well, just generally at any point in your life, but to give it context). We think we’re invincible and that we can do what we please and generally…we can. But there comes a time in every person’s life when they have to wake up and smell the MacBook-killing tea.

 

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.

A month of the rest of my life.

I began this blog a few weeks ago, I’d played with the idea of blogging for years and after pursuing many attempts at something solid I couldn’t hold it for any longer than a year. While it was quite successful, I deleted it all. Then I thought long and hard about the title of this blog: The Next Chapter.

I have spent so much of my life worrying about the past and it’s consequences over what might happen in the future that I haven’t been able to enjoy it like I should have. Looking back, that just wasn’t right, nobody should live that way. This is why the title is relevant. I’ve moved to an entirely new country for University, I’ve left my old life and it’s baggage behind and now I’m starting over again. This is the next chapter of my life, and hopefully I go on to live many of them, each more exciting than the one before.

That’s not to say I’ve forgotten what I’ve lived through so far, while I may not be willing to remember certain things there are so many I could ponder on for days, so many amazing experiences and conversations with people from home that I am never going to forget.

It’s so weird to think I’ve been living on my own, away from home, for an entire month now. University was always an idea, a thought, never a reality; now I’m coming to terms with the fact that time is flying and I’m more independent than I ever have been.

That doesn’t mean it’s been completely perfect, oh no no, far from it. From stumbling into lecture halls 20 minutes late to spectacularly sprawling over the subway platform, it’s all already happened and I’m sure I’ll write about those unfortunate events in posts to come.

The wonderful thing about living independently is you get to learn a whole new side to yourself you may not have known. Turns out I can be quite motivated when I want to be, like right now for example; I’ve wanted to post this for a whole month and here I am blasting it out in one fell swoop. I’ve also learnt that I cannot cook, (I’ll be honest and say I always knew that…really) but from that I’ve learnt it doesn’t mean I can’t make do. I’ve known I’m a resourceful person but it’s always been from an academic perspective; I work well under pressure, deadlines and so on, but this time the focus has shifted slightly to include domestic responsibilities. The emphasis is now on what I’m spending daily or what’s for dinner rather than what I’m going to say for third period English Literature in school the next day.

I have heard countless people say that University is just as much about the experience as it is about the education and at this point in my life I think I needed that change. I have time to focus on hobbies such as this blog for example (that I hope I can continue to find time for as University life progresses). I have time to go out there and find new friends, new relationships, a new life entirely.

This is The Next Chapter, and I’ll be damned if it’s not going to be anything but spectacular.