I spent 24 hours inside Hartley Library and slowly lost the will to live
This was the worst idea I’ve ever had
We've all been there. Maybe you have five deadlines coming up in the space of two days, maybe you went on too many nights out in a row, or maybe you just planned your time really, really badly.
Whatever the reason, every Soton student has had a time in their uni life when they've contemplated moving into Hartley, or at the very least spending the entire day there. But how horrific would that actually be? To put it to the test, I spent 24 hours in Hartley Library so you don't have to:
Hour One: 9am
I manage to convince my housemate to embark on this insane journey with me and we set off to Hartley, armed with blankets, snacks and a giant tub of VapoRub, because we're both somehow third years with Freshers' Flu.
It's raining when we arrive, which I really should take to be pathetic fallacy and go straight back home, but alas, I do not.
We head to the back of Level Three, which everyone knows is the best spot in Hartley. It's a Saturday morning, but it still feels unnecessarily eerily quiet. The whole of Southampton is tucked up in bed sleeping off their hangovers, and I can feel them taunting me.
Hour Three: 12pm
So far I have attempted to do some reading, and made a massive to-do list which I have entirely ignored.
My housemate has already given up and is looking at hats on Urban Outfitters. It's still raining. I want an iced coffee but I'm not allowed to leave to get one. Why did I think this was a good idea? Who knows.
Hour Five: 2pm
I am so bored I'm now scrolling through LinkedIn, although I'm not yet bored enough to actually do any work. This doesn't bode well for the next 19 hours.
At long last another housemate says she's coming to find us and I manage to convince her to bring me the iced coffee I've been thinking about all day.
I nearly cry when I take my first sip. "Maybe now I'll finally do some work," I think to myself.
Spoiler alert: I do not.
Hour Six: 3pm
The housemate who promised to stay with me "all day" selfishly has a video interview, so ditches me and goes home.
In terms of work, I've achieved precisely nothing. The most exciting part of my day so far happens when one of my friends can't find a book she needs and I manage to find the right shelf.
I fear my brain cells are rapidly dwindling.
Hour Nine: 6pm
Over one-third of the way through my 24 hours, I finally make a proper start on the reading I've been putting off all day.
My remaining housemate selfishly is hungry, so ditches me and goes home for dinner. She'll "be back soon" (sounds fake but okay) and leaves me alone with nothing but her Chemistry textbooks for comfort.
By this point I'm basically running on caffeine and cold and flu tablets, so I whack out a sandwich I made at home. I'd been trying to ration my food and I know I'm going to regret this later, but right now I don't care.
A very fit boy makes direct eye contact with me while I'm smearing VapoRub on my neck. Normally this would make me want to crawl into a hole and die, but I'm past the point of caring: I know much worse things will happen over the course of this 24 hours.
Hour 11: 8pm
I'd booked a group study room, so when my housemates come back to find me we head there. When we arrive, there's three boys doing something that looks boring and science-y. There's a spare room next door where we could go instead, but the one I booked is nicer and I'm not in the mood to be friendly so we kick them out.
They mutter and give us the evils as they pick up all their things and move next door. Oops.
We order a Deliveroo, and spend most of the hour doing nothing but complaining about being hungry as we wait for it to arrive.
Hour 12: 9pm
Our Deliveroo was originally coming at 9.05, and it actually arrives at 9.19, by which point I'm contemplating eating one of the library books. I meet the Deliveroo driver outside, and manage to smuggle the food past the Hartley security guards in a plastic bag.
The two minutes I'm outside getting the food are the greatest of the past 12 hours.
Our group study room has a wall monitor, so we decide to have a movie night and find The House Bunny online. I justify watching this as "doing work" because I'm doing my diss on makeover films, so it's research. Basically.
Hour 14: 11pm
Another housemate comes to find us, and he brings me a pillow. I nearly cry. Then I realise that I'm over halfway through this insanity, and I nearly cry again.
We make an exciting trip to the vending machines at the front of Hartley. I smell fresh air from outside, and it smells amazing.
We've become way too attached to our group study room, and steal the logins of everyone we know so we can book it until tomorrow morning.
Hour 16: 1am
I go to fill up my water bottle, brush my teeth and do my skincare routine. Am shocked to see that there are real people still in Hartley at this time: Are you okay, huns?? What are you doing here????? GO HOME!
We make up our own conspiracy theory and send a six minute-long voice note to a friend detailing it. We then FaceTime another friend about it for nearly three hours. It's a good way to pass the time but also we've now officially lost our minds.
A boy knocks on the door and I think he's going to tell us off for talking too loudly. "Do either of you have a glue stick I can use?" No we don't, but why on Earth do you, an adult, need one? This is Hartley at 1am, not a Year Two arts and crafts lesson.
Hour 19: 4am
We decide to go for a walk around the whole of Hartley, because honestly why not. Level One is entirely empty; Level Two has two security guards who give us a weird look; and there are maybe 20 people across Levels Three to Five. Each of them looks as dead and as lost as I feel.
We also discover there's a shower in the Level Two toilets by the Cafe. You could defo live in Hartley forever if you wanted to. The shower floor is wet and there's some face wash in there, which is wild because it means real people ACTUALLY shower here.
On our exploration we try to find a good place to sleep, because we STILL. HAVEN'T. SLEPT. The Level One double booths, Level Three sofas and the green booths at the front of Level Four are comfy, but too open. Plus, we've realised that basically all of Hartley's lights are on sensors, so one tiny movement means it's bright af everywhere.
We find one group study room on Level Four that has an actual light switch, meaning we could sleep in the dark, but we can't be bothered to move our stuff and so head back to our original group study room. This is a BIG mistake.
We make beds out of chairs and try to sleep. It's SO bright. We don't have eye masks and try to make one out of a t-shirt. My chairs have wheels so keep rolling away from each other.
I relocate to the floor, and lie on my coat under a table. It's marginally darker. The floor is cold, but not as cold as my uni house.
Finally at 4.55am, we've been still enough that the lights of the group study room go off. The security guards walk past a few times but they literally couldn't give less of a fuck about us. I'm almost hoping they come and kick us out, just so I can home and get in bed.
I can see tiny bugs crawling on the floor, but can't tell if they're real or if a combination of sleep deprivation and too much caffeine is making me hallucinate. Also, I don't want to move and set the light sensor off, so I try to ignore them.
Hour 21: 6am
The cleaners arrive to Hartley just before 6am. This is when I wake up, except can you "wake up" when all you've been doing is lying on the cold, hard floor staring at caffeine-induced hallucinations of bugs for the past hour??
We move from our beds, because we don't want anyone to come in and see us at the lowest point of our lives. The group study room has now been tainted forever and we can never go back there again.
I don't even know what we do for the next couple of hours. Mainly I just try not to cry. I vaguely watch another film for my diss, but do I actually take any of it in? Of course I don't.
Real people start to trickle in – the real keenos come at around 8am. I want to shout at them to leave this place and go back to bed.
Hour 24: freedom!
We leave. I see real daylight, not fluorescent lights that never turn off. I smell fresh air, not that weird stagnant Harley smell. Even if I saw a rat right now, I think I'd cry of happiness. I simultaneously want a Full English, a coffee and to sleep for seven thousand years.
So, would I recommend spending 24 hours in Hartley? Absolutely not. You will waste a ton of money on snacks, the lights are WAY too bright to actually be able to sleep and, of course, you'll go absolutely stir-crazy.
But if you really had to during deadline time, it wouldn't be too horrific: Hartley probably has better facilities than your rancid student house.
The sofas and booths are comfy, the group study rooms have computers and wall monitors that can double as TVs, and it's 100 per cent warmer than your draughty box room. In the middle of the night you can go to your fave toilet without having to queue, and there's even the shower. What more could you want?