The unexpectedly hard life of an Art History student

They like art; they are important

Cambridge History of Art Rachel Bircher

Numbering only 25 in my year, Art Historians are a rare and exotic breed.

Being naturally drawn to colour and eccentricity, we are easily recognisable in tie-dye shirts, braided hair, anything vintage and turtle necks.

Although we are few and far between, I can guarantee that at any club night (the more obscure and lefty the better) you will find an art historian in the corner, glittering and flailing their arms.

Spot the Art Historian in this Photo

While I cannot deny that Art history is undoubtedly the subject that has the most fun, the art historian’s reputation is under threat by rumours we have it easier than other subjects. I will shed light on our mysterious ways and prove to all the cynics that the life of an Art Historian is just as hard as a natsci’s or a medic’s.

Our days start with the stressful task of getting dressed.

To our friends, it seems that we have effortless cool, but really every detail is meticulously picked out for maximum quirkiness; from the grips in our hair to our mismatched socks. Many have to get up hours before lectures in order to sew original outfits out of material found at vintage fairs and collected on gap yahs.

It’s like living in Love Actually

Everyone knows the intensity of a Natsci timetable, often stretching from 9am- 6pm with lectures on Saturday; but what is less well known is the daily grind of the art historian.

We must attend vigorous field trips nearly every day as well as having up to two lectures. Sometimes I am so tired I can barely make the 5 minute cycle to Gothic chapels on my bespoke bicycle without having to stop for a homemade organic smoothie.

We had to make Quills one lecture. Talk about hard manual labour

Even after lectures and field trips, there is no rest for our brains. In our weekly supervisions we tackle the most important issues of the modern world, such as the meaning of a burning candle in the Arnolfini portrait, or the way music influences classical architecture.

In preparation, we pour ourselves over art books that occasionally have WHOLE PAGES OF TEXT (although there is usually a helpful picture of the opposite page).

Don’t even pretend like Science books don’t have pictures too

Now you may be thinking, “at least the art historian has hours in the middle of the day to relax over lunch,” but in fact lunch is as just of a stressful affair as getting dressed.

You would not believe how difficult it is to find food that is vegan, gluten free, fat free, organic and locally sourced in Cambridge.

Indeed, you will find most Art historians huddled round three bean salads in the Rainbow café- the only establishment to cater to our delicate dietary needs.

There is always an Art Historian in the Rainbow cafe, even at midnight. True story

After a hard morning of looking at art and making quills we only have time for a quick 3 hour nap before we rush off to rehearsals for politically charged plays or feminist forums.

But when we finally make it to bed, covered in rave paint from King’s Bunker, we look around at our fairy lights, dream catchers and prints of Klimt and know that we wouldn’t change it for the world.

I hope this article has opened your eyes to our way of life. Peace Out.