I spent 24 hours in the library during deadline season, and here’s how it went

Spoiler alert: I didn’t write my whole dissertation in a day

It’s essay season and let’s be real, we’re all in the academic trenches. I personally am victim to two looming deadlines, and with minimal progress made, I decided to take on the challenge of spending 24 hours in the library. I enlisted my boyfriend, Jack on my mission. I thought he’d make a suitable companion as my personal photographer. So, with nothing but my laptop and a dream of writing my whole dissertation in one day, I embarked on my adventure with my spirits high. I had no idea what lay ahead.

Study sesh prep 

I arrived on campus at 10am. I planned to arrive early, with a flawed logic that 24 hours would pass quicker if I arrived at 7am. But nothing, not even a free EGB ticket, would tempt me out of bed before 9am. After a quick stop in Marketplace to get the essentials – three cans of Monster – we headed into the trenches. We set up camp in the Law Library, hoping that the big windows would allow us to bask in the sunshine whilst we still remembered what happiness felt like.

Locked in

I expected the Law Library to be full of girlies in their Tom’s Trunks and Sambas, but instead, it reminded me more of an 8:30 seminar: Deserted. I sat down, opened my laptop, and stared at a painfully blank Word document. I had no choice but to lock in and work on my dissertation. Surprisingly, the first couple of hours were productive, aided by the fact that after seeing three Jojo Siwa TikToks in a row, I decided to delete the app. No doom scrolling for me. After trying to be brave and stay away from energy drinks as long as possible, I soon caved and by 1 pm I had opened my first can of Monster. The caffeine dependence is real.

Distractions begin

I decided to take a study break and go on my phone, but I soon became aware that instead of actually working in the library, I was just spending all my time telling friends that I would be there for 24 hours. I also got distracted by an unprecedented Snapchat notification, causing an hour-long yapping session. Oopsie! Girls will be girls.

Survival plan

By 5pm, my innate desire for an hourly sweet treat meant that my food supply was depleting fast. I realised that I would have to start rationing. I went back to buy more snacks, and on my way, I took a trip to visit Napoleon, a very welcome distraction. I also realised that I probably should have brought a toothbrush with me. Luckily, no one was around to fall victim to my coffee breath (apart from Jack, sorry boss).

Dinner time and anything but uni work 

We heated up our gourmet dinner and ate it whilst watching an episode of The Office. Finding an excuse not to study was more difficult than trying to find one’s friends in the bathrooms of Timepiece on a busy Friday. My idea of getting a procrastination pint was quickly shut down when I found The Ram was closed. I instead decided to colour in my Capybara-themed colouring book in an attempt to retain some of my sanity.

After twelve hours in the library, Jack finally decided to open his laptop after being on Instagram reels for 3 hours straight, which made me feel obliged to do the same. Unfortunately, whilst researching for my dissertation, I tripped and fell into a Google deep dive, landing on a 2-hour cult documentary. It was then I felt my plan of writing my dissertation truly slipping away.

Delusion hours

By this point, it was either 10pm or 3am. We decided to head to the Greenhouse in DH1, which technically isn’t the library, but I decided it still counts, and I make the rules. I decided to connect my laptop to the big screen, and started by watching a Shakespeare production for my diss, but I soon lost the will and put on The Office again. One thing I didn’t expect from being in the Forum after hours was how terrifying the toilets were. The super dim light and the eerie silence truly felt like “A Nightmare on Forum Hill”.

Pizza party

At 2am we hit a wall and called in the emergency provisions: Dominos. The delivery driver provided us with the sweet salvation of pizza, which soon put me into a food coma.


It was at the 3am mark when I felt the tiredness creeping in. I put two beanbags from the Greenhouse together and laid down like a Victorian child dying of the plague, wrapping myself in my Lion King blanket (proud Disney adult). I wanted some beauty sleep, but instead I slept with one eye open, in fear of estate patrol finding me asleep. I woke up, confused and with back pain, to Jack watching Dune on the big screen. But I was so tired that not even Timothee Chalamet could keep my attention, and I went back to sleep.

The last push 

By about 6am we were fighting demons. As we watched the sunrise over the rolling Exeter hills, we reconsidered the life choices that led us to this moment. After some iPad kid time and an extra slice of pizza, we were itching to be functioning members of civilisation again. At 8am, we caved and called it quits. I convinced Jack that 21 hours and 24 hours are basically the same thing. As I stepped out into the morning sunshine, I made a solemn vow to finish my dissertation in good time, so I would never have to experience 24 hours in the library ever again.

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