Let’s all have a rant about our lectures

Another week, another annoyance for columnist PHOEBE GARGARO

9 ams alarm clock Arts arts subject benches cold contact hours cough English freshers flu laptops lecture series lecturers Lectures macbooks noise Notes sidgewick sneezes stationary tuition fees

It’s a bit of a conundrum. When your lectures are optional, it’s tempting to batter the snooze button into oblivion and roll away from all responsibility.

But then you’re faced with the glorious prospect of knowing zero context for your course, and having no visible structure to daily life. And it’s always fun when you’re asked about a particular lecture series in a supervision, knowing full well you’ve slept through the past two.

It’s incredibly rare that a 9AM is worth it, and by the time you’ve dragged yourself to Sidgwick out of sheer obligation and the thought that you might as well get something out of your £9000 that isn’t a hopeless grilling in a supervision, you’ve realised that lectures are in fact really bloody irritating.

Dante's Inferno?

Dante’s Inferno

Now, three weeks in, here’s everything I’ve learnt about that hour you spend each morning in your arts lecture (aka, as the eighth circle of hell):

Some lecturers are too clever for their own good

Too clever? I know you’re thinking, Is that a legitimate complaint?” Welcome to Cambridge.

Yeah, alright. Fair enough. But when you walk out of a lecture knowing less than when you walked into it, that’s a problem. There’s a fine line between being intelligent and providing challenging but accessible content, and being so aware of your own intellectual superiority that it’s even unfeasible to understand the hand-out.

Seriously, it may as well have been delivered in a language alien to me. 

There’s always someone with a cold 

For the past two weeks, I’ve been guilty of this. There’s nothing quite like being a source of irritation to yourself in lectures.

You know it’s coming. Someone rustles a Kleenex. Another person pops out a Strepsil. And the next thing you know, there’s a cacophony of coughs and sneezes which spread across the room like some hideously infectious Mexican wave. By this stage, you’ve probably given up on even attempting to hear the point being laboured by the lecturer. Could’ve stayed in bed.

guilty member of the strepsils squad

Guilty member of the strepsils squad

The sea of Macbooks as you enter

You’re efficient, congratulations. It’s definitely better than my option of scrawling down notes that are barely legible. I’m also tremendously grateful to you for having a visible clock, in case there’s not one around the room and I need to know how much longer my endurance will be tested. It only becomes a problem when someone’s merrily hammering the keys as though they’re venting their frustration.

Or if someone’s given into the temptation of Facebook and their group chat is so ‘lit’ that they’re receiving audible notifications every five seconds.

Stop. You’re killing the Medieval vibe I’m so desperately trying to acquire.

Stationary everywhere the eye can see

The people with endless stationery. Seriously, did you go on a mass heist at Ryman’s? They’ve got a lifetime supply of pens and notebooks and they want you to know about it. Not only that, but they want to occupy half the bench.

You sit up from spending five minutes scrabbling around in your bag in the hopes of finding a pen, and sit up to discover that your place has been taken by a mound of Staples‘ stash.

glorious excess

Glorious excess

The room temperature 

I’ve heard that Cambridge is a place of extreme highs and lows. I just didn’t think that they meant the temperature.

Disclaimer: I’m grossly unfit. The fast-paced walk to Sidgwick often makes me feel as though I’ve acquired some critical cardiac condition. And another disclaimer, I’m overdramatic as hell. You never quite know whether the theatre you’re in will make you feel like a chicken being slowly roasted in an oven or a brave explorer venturing into the Arctic Circle.

It’s thrilling.

dressed for the (conflicting) weather

Ready for all seasons

And finally, the overly-chatty squads

Three weeks in, and I’m thinking Sartre was right when he said that Hell was other people. Honestly, it’s probably me rather than them, as I’m irritable at 9AM.

It’s nice to be sociable during lectures. No one’s disputing that. But it’s not Tuesday Cindies or Friday Life. Don’t bring your squad for a bit of a laugh and a gossip. Or do, but don’t sit near me. I spent so long holding in a cough for fear of being laughed at that I looked like an angry ostrich.

choosing social acceptance over oxygen

Choosing social acceptance over oxygen

They’re not all bad.

Some 9AMs are even (shockingly) worth dragging yourself up for. But there’s no way you’ll escape an entire lecture series unscathed. You’ll no doubt have your own set of irritations.