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‘My A in Physics GCSE couldn’t help me here’ – A history student’s excursion to King’s Buildings

Is it really as bad as they say?


King's Buildings play a central part to many students at Edinburgh, but for humanities students it’s unknown territory. As a History and Politics student, I’ve always been intrigued as to what it's like and whether life is as hard as my STEM friends like to make out. With two days off a week thanks to a glorious lack of contact hours, I thought I’d make a day trip to KB.

On Friday I got my friend Robert to escort me, who I chose as he does a Physics degree – regarded as one of the most difficult STEM subjects.

Armed with his trusty Superdry jacket and lack of enthusiasm, we set off for his Astrophysics lecture. This lecture lasts an hour and a half, so I thought it best stock up some snacks as my humanities brain isn't used to concentrating for longer than 50 minutes at a time.

Stocking up on supplies for my big day out

It takes me half an hour to walk to George Square from Brae House, but compared to the walk to King's, that was nothing. It's a never ending road of suburban Edinburgh, this was not a student-y place at all, already I was out of my comfort zone. I eventually panted my way into a fairly decent lecture theatre next to all these science students who didn’t even break a sweat – I noticed everyone here was quite slim, and that made perfect sense.

I brought my laptop, as most students do in George Square, but at King's there’s an unearthly silence as students only use paper to write their equations, so I had to be conscious of my typing as the average science student has not grown accustomed to the sound of constant keyboard clicking. However, I wasn't quiet enough and did receive some glares.

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Not a MacBook in sight

It’s no wonder science students are known for their commitment, as they don’t have the temptation to open a new tab and browse Missguided or Facebook in their lectures. Most humanities students, if they had to part with their MacBooks would splash out on an overpriced Paperchase notebook, but I’ve gained a respect for King's students who all appear to go for the cheap 400 page refill pad – one girl in front of me had even brought printer paper.

Now I thought this lecture would be really intense, but in reality it was all shits and giggles – so humanities students, don’t listen to your STEM friends when they complain about how hard their life is. This lecturer spent a decent 20 minutes reading TopHat style comments, such as someone writing a recipe for venison stew, a poem, "fucking kill me", and the joke "what do physicists have for dinner – fission chips". Ha. Ha. Ha.

The only smile in this lecture theatre

Thinking the work was starting, he gets up a map of the solar system, but alas no – he draws around certain planets to show how, all together it looks like a smiley face. Us humanities students r e a l l y don’t give ourselves enough credit, we have 50 minutes of frantic typing, trying to rewrite the PowerPoint notes and what the lecturer is saying simultaneously, terrified we’ll miss the slide.

When this geezer does eventually start teaching content, it ain’t even about stars – this dude whacks up paint and starts talking about colours, spending a solid five minutes explaining how "pink is not green". After the 10 minute interval however, he did start talking about equations, and this is where I’ll give physics students their due – this shit looks hard. He even has three different colours to show how the equations interlink – this is where I switched off and onto the realm of online shopping. My A in physics GCSE couldn’t help me here, I was a lost cause, destined for the school of humanities.

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After leaving the lecture, I got to look around a little bit more and King's certainly beat George Square when it comes to it's interior design – they really went all out. In the building we were in anyway, there were equations on the floor, displays across the corridor – it was a lot nicer than the grey corridors of 7 Bristo square. However, the outside of it wasn’t as exciting, with the only splash of colour coming from the ‘Tuk Truk’ which was closed (an apt metaphor). We then waited in the ridiculously long queue for the school style bus, and went home.

All in all, I’ve got to say that whilst the lecture wasn’t as hard as I anticipated, next time we’re sat in GSLT, we should all spare a thought for the King’s students who have to trek to their stupidly long lectures, even though they don’t seem to surpass a whole page of notes.

And they think humanities students are extra