Online seminars and grad schemes: What life is really like as a third year at Lancs Uni
Applying for every graduate job, even if you know you’ll hate it
What a shit year it’s been. Normally, I’d beat around the bush before getting to the meat of the matter, but 2020 has been such a spectacular cluster-fuck of awfulness that it doesn’t merit an extended metaphor or 12. Even before COVID-19, the year was shaping up to be as appetizing as a repeat viewing of Cats, but corona really has been the fecal cherry atop this shit trifle.
However, life, in its annoying tendency to do so, goes on. So, like many of you dear readers, I find myself in the third year of uni, but an incredibly weird third year of awkward online lectures, the discovery of Microsoft Teams, as a thing that actually exists, and attempting to find graduate scheme deadlines while trying not to die inside; what a charmed life us third years lead.
But that is merely a taster: here is the definitive life of a third year at Lancaster University in 2020.
Trying to get your deposit back is like trying to get a gazelle back from a pissed-off tiger
Needless to say, most of us have had an experience with a less than stellar landlord or letting agency in our second year. Faults reported that never got fixed, damp walls, missing kettles, or exposed sewage outlets (yes, really). If you didn’t run into any of these issues, then you must be letting from the Dalai Lama. Innumerable Lancaster students have been forced to live in conditions not far removed from a Gulag, and the litany of issues have left us, much like Boris left the country a few days ago, in tiers.
If that didn’t make you believe your letting agency was actually a cabal of shitty devils, then the War of the Deposits certainly will. A “blu tac damage” jab here, a “marked floor” there, a ‘”no proof of pre-existing harm” dodge, and a “why wasn’t it reported” counter-punch will have you wishing your past self to just bit the bullet, and lived in a skip.
In-person seminars are the best and worst thing ever
The bad: you have to march into what is essentially a corona hotspot, praying to God your disposable mask that hasn’t been thrown out yet until it’s essentially see-through while flinching away from anyone who so much as breaths slightly heavily.
The seminars themselves? About the same as any other seminar from first and second year, meaning that you and either sneakily do the reading while the annoyingly smart and talkative students buy you some time, or you just give up and pretend to make notes while nodding solemnly.
The good: you haven’t lived until you’ve seen someone try and communicate that someone else is chatting absolute bullshit with just their eyes. The cocked eyebrow, the furrowed brow, the incredulous sideways glance, and the disbelieving stare; it should be a category at the Academy Awards: Best WTF Are You On About Bullshit Eyes?
Online seminars are practice for witness protection
On the other hand, you have online seminars on Microsoft Teams. Despite sounding like a rubbish Apprentice idea and having all the publicity of a Rishi-Starmer rap battle (it’s been around since 2017 and was as well known as Lion King 1 1/2 until about yesterday it seems like), Teams is our newest fulcrum for social interaction. The emphasis, sadly, is on crum. As in crummy. As it’s a bit shit.
Not that it’s Teams’ fault (even if it drops more frames than a one-armed optician), but the first few awkward, stumbling weeks of seminars somehow seem even worse online. The bright, hopeful seminar tutor earnestly asks questions with an enthusiastic gleam in their eye, only to visibly die inside as a wall of muted, faceless initials stare back at them, immovable and unfeeling. Everyone refused to divulge any information while firmly keeping their camera turned off? Sounds like witness protection to me.
Panicking to find graduate schemes only to find none of them are actually open
Read through that big Times Top 100 Graduate Employers yet? Notice how it doesn’t tell you when they open so you shit yourself and Google a grad job with RBS (even though with your overdraft, you’d be lucky not to appear on “Can’t Pay? We’ll Take it Away”), only to find they don’t open until November? Same, dear reader, same.
Applying for every graduate job, even if you know you’ll hate it
“Hmm, what about this scheme as a pastry chef at Greggs?”
“You can’t boil water without burning it.”
“Ok. How about MI5?”
“You lost your keys within a week.”
“A speak and spell outsmarted you.”
“A law office?”
“I’ve seen your search history.”
“You watched Matilda, and felt like Trunchbull was too kind.”
Bullshitting to get on said graduate job
Having no qualifications isn’t an immediate problem to getting a job per-say, it just means that you have to get creative with what few skills you have picked up.
For example, did you know the fact that I’ve done DofE in High School means that I can co-ordinate a team effort, can survive in a wilderness environment, can work under immense mental strain, can calculate the heat death of the universe, can do a crossword blindfolded and fix a shower rail with both hands tied behind my back? That’s not even bringing up the bassoon lessons I had when I was seven or that I know the opening of the Bee Movie word for word.
Diets have either dive-bombed or gone all Nigella Lawson
You’ve either been subsisting on beans, toast, and ketchup (a feast, and screw anyone who says otherwise) throughout lockdown, or you’ve discovered Gordon Ramsay, and fancy your hand at making a beef Wellington for tea and a homemade deconstructed cheesecake with honey custard for pudding. There is no middle ground.
You’ve probably bought books you’ll never read, nor have any intention to even open
You bought Normal People just so your friends would shut the fuck up about it (you know exactly who you are and don’t even try and pretend otherwise), and now that it’s actually in your hands, all you can think is “Meh. I’ll get round to it.” Rinse and repeat for every book that blew up for a week and you felt pressured into owning, otherwise, you’re somehow the worst human since Pol Pott.
Your YouTube recommendation is Freud’s wet dream
We’ve all been guilty of falling into the incredibly weird and borderline insane rabbit hole the YouTube algorithm shoves us down, but after what feels like a century of lockdown, the YouTube recommended still hasn’t recovered.
The history of mozzarella, Plymouths dark history, and scenes from American TV shows we haven’t even heard of; oh what a time to be alive.
One of your friends has tried to become TikTok famous and you’re too nice to tell them they’re embarrassing themselves
Do something worthwhile with your life, proto-Karen, like literally anything else.
You and your flatmates communicate entirely in TV or film quotes
You’d be lying if you said you haven’t done this at least once. Like with most things, however, lockdown left us with not a lot to do except drive Netflix’s stock through the roof and left us with essentially perfect recall of any scene from our favourite film or tv show. What’s even better is when one flatmate doesn’t have a clue what you’re on about and you look pityingly at them.
Having the classic 3am existential crisis over how to live after uni
Sure, we all knew this would be our last year at uni, but it never really sunk in properly until we were here, did it? Like how we all theoretically know the sun will explode one day, Coronation Street will go off the air, or Brian Blessed will headbutt a volcano (I’ve got £450 down, don’t disappoint me Brian), but actually being in your third year, knowing that at the end of it, if you don’t do a Masters, you’re meant to have a job? Like an actual, real job that you get taxed on, pay off your student loan, live on, and contribute to society? What the hell is going on?
Just to put the existential icing upon this crisis cake, there’s a very good chance that any job you get, a robot will do better than you in about 20 years time, or you’ll be doing it on Mars if Elon can keep his head out of his Space-X for five minutes.
Wanting to gouge out your own eyes for picking a subject with a dissertation
Why did we think a dissertation “wouldn’t be that bad”? No essays, no exams, just 10,000 words due in what might as well be 8000 AD and meetings I can just bullshit my way through? Sign me up.
Alas, dear reader, we’ve been tricked, we’ve been backstabbed and we’ve quite possibly been bamboozled. As it turns out, writing a diss is quite hard, and not the easy ride we stupidly thought it would be. Countless articles on Google Scholar, and amazingly not a single one is useful to you at all? Staring long enough that a word starts looking wrong and misspelled even though it’s perfectly right? Desperately messaging your friends to see what they’ve done and Frankensteining the worst idea since the marzipan submarine to assure your project supervisor, that, yes, you know what you’re doing? No, wouldn’t dream of it.
The Show Must Go On
Even with COVID-19 shutting down Sugar, Bojo banning us from our friends, and traversing the library has become as confusing as quantum mechanics, there’s no reason we can’t at least try and make the most out of what will be for many of us, our last year at Lancaster. As long as there is Sultans, there is hope.