Studying, silence and survival

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October 19, 2015

7:19 PM

As the fifth week of classes start here at the University of St Andrews, the atmosphere among the student body has become almost as gloomy as the weather. Whereas at the College of William and Mary coursework consists of weekly problem sets, several midterms and frequent papers, here all of my work (and my grade) is based off of a paper or two and the final — and maybe a book report if I’m lucky. Of course, with my cursed luck from the deadline gods, the due dates for all of my papers are within mere days of one another. So, I’ve hit the books hard, and what time I had previously spent frolicking on beaches and watching rugby matches I now spend languishing at a desk, subsisting on tea and digestive biscuits. But, as the housekeeper for my hall recently said (after coming into my room and finding me using my Chaucer collection as a pillow), that’s what I’m here for.

So, I’ve hit the books hard, and what time I had previously spent frolicking on beaches and watching rugby matches I now spend languishing at a desk, subsisting on tea and digestive biscuits.

In the battle against my demon deadlines, I have become quite familiar with the hot study spots of St Andrews. The library is an obvious choice, and therefore often fairly crowded: The electronic counter that displays the amount of students in the building is well into the six hundreds whenever I go. Like Earl Gregg Swem Library, this library has quiet floors, emphasized by the huge “SILENCE” signs throughout, which, even if a little overbearing, does make it an optional no-distraction zone. It does feel a little clinical, however, all white and modern and bright. So unless I’ve made some bad life choices and have to pound out a paper in one night, I prefer somewhere a little cozier.

Rector’s, a café in the Student Union, is one of my favorite places to get some work done. Nestled in one of the many sofa chairs with a hot drink, I’m bound to bump into a friend or two, and the coffee shop environment is enough that I can’t hear the silent screaming inside my head while remaining able to focus.

Taste, a coffee shop on North Street just a minute from my hall, is another great place to deal with academic obligations. The coffee is great and the place is super cozy, albeit very tiny, so trying to get a seat is like being in the Hunger Games.

If I’m not in the mood to fight another student for a stool, you can usually find me in my hall’s library, a big room with a long mahogany table that makes me feel like I’m the CEO of some great company, not a sleep-deprived, debt-ridden university student in a hoodie. The only downside to working here is, as it is in hall, it’s very easy to get caught up in the sounds of other student’s preparations for a night out. So some students make the best of both worlds. Just the other night a student was doing their Old English translations while drinking a bottle of wine. That student might have been me.

Jokes aside, there are a plethora of great places to get your study on in St Andrews, and the sense of communal suffering in all of them is a great motivator.

Of course, I also take great advantage of the desk in my lovely single room. There, I don’t bother anyone with my 2 a.m. Beyoncé dance party study breaks, and no one can judge if I stare into space for 15 minutes while eating Nutella from the jar.

Jokes aside, there are a plethora of great places to get your study on in St Andrews, and the sense of communal suffering in all of them is a great motivator. Luckily, I know there will soon be some (temporary) relief from my anguish. Raisin weekend is fast approaching, and if there is anything I have picked up about study culture here, it is to plan on getting absolutely no work done during those two days. Readings vs. Raisin? There really is no competition.

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Anna-Leigh Ong
  • Anna-Leigh Ong