‘We were all silent for 45 minutes’: Students share their worst break out room stories

‘One guy just kept talking about how high he was?”

Break out rooms are hell. I said it. They are the devil’s invention. And I don’t want to get all QAnon anti-masker weird conspiracy theory vibes up in here but… break out rooms became a THING largely during the online teaching shift of the pandemic. Out… break. Break… out. Rooms? There’s something going on there and I’m onto it.

But in legitimate terms, break out rooms literally suck. They’re awkward from start to finish. There’s a quiet urgency to them where you feel a lot more stressed than in the main Zoom room even though there’s half the people. Sometimes there’s a literal quiet urgency to them because NO ONE speaks and it’s unbearable. Sometimes one person speaks a little bit too much if you know what I’m saying, and you spend the whole time hoping, nay praying, for the “you have 60 seconds left” alert. I’ve never clicked on something faster than that fucking alert let me tell you. It’s better than the Student Finance loan text, it’s better than sex: it’s freedom.

But sadly, break out rooms ain’t going anywhere anytime soon. Although they conjure up a kinda Escape Room-esque image with their name, there is literally no escape. There is no breaking out of the break out rooms. This is our life now. So, to numb our pain, let’s revel in others’. Here are the worst break out room stories from students across the UK – travel all the way from Edinburgh to Exeter and back again through their stories, without the hefty £300 train fare and a cold Pret sat beside you. Let’s go.

The break out room was EIGHT HOURS long

“One of my mates got put in a break out room for eight whole hours. She does psychiatric nursing and they were supposed to spend all day discussing something in groups with the lecturer ‘dropping in’ at random intervals.” – Livi, KCL

We sat there in silence for 45 whole minutes

“My lecturer put us in breakout rooms for a 90min exercise (?!?) and basically when we were put into them nobody said anything, stayed completely muted, etc, for 45 mins until the lecturer entered the room to check on us and then I was the only one who continued to speak. Then we did the task but only over chat, not actually speaking. This was only a group of three to four people, and we’re all fourth years so we all know of each other as well? So awkward and annoying.” – Euan, Edinburgh

I started bitching about my lecturer and she heard me

“I went into a breakout room and it unmuted my mic, then when I came back into the main room I started bitching about the lecturer to my flatmate with the mic still unmuted. It’s now been recorded that I hate my lecturer and I said she sounds like she’s crying all the time.” – Emily, UCL

Evidence to support Emily’s experience:

One of the guys just kept talking about how high he was

“My flatmate got put in a break out room with three straight boys, two of them kept their cameras off and didn’t speak and the other just spoke about how high he was the whole time. Awful hetero behaviour, I would have left.” – Alexander, Sussex

We overheard this guy talking to his cat

“I had one where this guy’s mic turned on and we thought he was catcalling someone (started shouting ‘hey!! You’re gorgeous!!’ etc), turned out he was just really hyping up his cat.” – Livi, KCL

I was on the loo when they started to put everyone into break out rooms

“One time I was on the loo during a Zoom seminar when they were putting everyone into break out rooms and I had my AirPods connected to my laptop but didn’t go into the room because I was still weeing. The lecturer was like, ‘Abby, are you not going into your room?’ and I was like bro come on I’m just trying to have a wee. Luckily I was on mute the whole time.” – Abby, Brookes

I wasn’t paying attention when my lecturer put everyone into break out rooms so I just stayed

“At one point during a seminar I had FULLY zoned out like, staring into space slightly above the camera, placid look on my face, no idea what’s going on zoned out and then my lecturer decided to split the group into two and put one half of us in a new break out room and let another half stay with him. I was in the group that had to leave but I didn’t leave and just stayed sat there looking eerily calm until he was like ‘Emma you can go now’ and I didn’t say anything I just hung up.” – Emma, Coventry

People got into a debate about whether cats are better than dogs

“I was in a breakout room last Tuesday morning and somebody got muted by someone for saying cats are better than dogs and I actually hated how much it thrilled me.” – Bec, Lancaster

Got a truly awful break out room story that you think deserves to be told? Send tips to [email protected] or DM us on Instagram!

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