How NOT to survive an unexpected essay deadline

First off, don’t drink halfway through


Day 1

11:00 – This happened:

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It was meant to be SATURDAY

As a lowly fresher with little experience of an actual essay crisis, this was some quite shocking news to me. I realised I’d have to work HARD, EFFICIENTLY and FAST. This supervisor was more scathing than all the PE teachers who essentially wrote “Emma tries hard but is ultimately shit” on my school reports. I probably shouldn't have started writing this article halfway through, but there we go.

A study session and remarkably crap but unrelated supervision later, I departed to the MML library with 40 hours in which to finish the 1500 essay I had not started the reading nor written an essay plan for. And I had a birthday formal to go to. My own.

Everything, I assured myself, was going to be fine.

19:00 – The night began with carb-loading in the buttery (chips AND pasta, please), three cups of coffee, an immediate caffeine crash and a phone call to my brother which went something like this;

Me: Tom my life is over I don’t think I’m actually fine why did I go to this university what if all my decisions in life were wrong I was so happy earlier I'm so sad my life is so harddddddd

My brother: … I think this time would be better spent working on your essay

21:00 – I found myself in Mainsbury’s buying chocolate and Lucozade – which I have not drank since a *wild* Year 5 residential trip in 2011 – before heading back into the library, consuming it all and then speed-read 50 pages of the set readings.

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Desperate times….

22:30 – Eduroam collapsed, and so did the college wifi. No, actually they DISAPPEARED, apparently due to a power cut in first court, meaning my reading became quickly severely limited. This, as it turns out, helped with time management.

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Day 2

00:30 – Went for a loo break and met a fellow essay crisiser, who made me feel better about my whole situation.

Me: Annabel, are you ok?

Annabel: I’ve currently been staring at the wall for 45 minutes, and I have eight hours to read 260 pages. And I've not slept for four days.

Me: … Do you want any of my Creme Eggs to cheer you up?

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1:30 – Went to sleep, completely exhausted.

5:30 – Up again and headed to the library, and spent two hours writing an introduction which, it turns out, did not even remotely address the essay title 🙁

7:30 – Went for a nap, then dragged myself to Sidgwick site

12:00 – After surviving a lecture, headed to Arc Cafe to work the essay, where this conversation happened;

Me: Joe I don’t even know what a syllable IS anymore what does ANYTHING mean Joe, what does LIFE mean??????

Joe: Emma, everybody is staring at us.

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14:00 – Semantics lecture, coupled with this conversation:

Katy: I think we’ll have to do an all-nighter in your college after your birthday formal.

Me: I’ll buy the Red Bull

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Ill bring an emergency essay kit inc. pyjamas

15:30 – Missed a JCR photoshoot I was meant to go to in order to have a nap

17:15 – Woke up and saw that our essay was given a 24 hour extension

WE WERE SAVED!!!!!! (for now)

I took a deep breath.

19:00 – Met up with my friends for my formal.

Friends: Emma, are you drinking tonight?

Me: A little bit, but I won’t go wild

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Totally not wild… Photo credit: Emma Parker

21:30 – Chundered for the first time in my life. Turns out, it’s disgusting.

(Shout out to Ina, Joe, Susanna, Anja, Alex and Sam for looking after me when I was unable to do anything, especially eat toast.)

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All very civilised…

22:30 – After much effort on behalf of six lovely people, I was tucked up in bed, safe and sound.

Me: Joe, will I ever find love?

Joe: Emma, I think you need to go to sleep now.

Day 3

5:30 – Woke up with a hangover and very little motivation.

8:30 – Worked on my essay in Newnham Cafe whilst drinking coffee and eating an entire bar of chocolate

12:00 – Showed up to my lecture and listened to the various retellings of my failings of the night before

14:00– Napped

17:00 – Added the “final touches” to my essay, or added as many random unrelated sentences as I could possibly think up to reach the word count.

19:00 – Had dinner with a medic student friend, which really helped put my life into perspective.

Me: OMG Alex I have to write about syllables my life is very very hard.

Alex: People trust me with their health, wellbeing and lives, but yes, that sounds very difficult.

Me: Yes it is, I’m happy you can see that.

21:00 – Sent off my essay, with the attitude of "If it repeats the question ten times over and reaches the word count, IT'LL DO"

Day 4

8:00 – woke up the next day, knowing I had two more essays to write…

Essentially, it turns out Cambridge is slightly mental.

Photos: Emma Rowley and Emma Parker