Last year when I entered the great halls of learning I was in love, blind to the dysfunctions and annoyingly bad habits of my supposedly perfect lover. But it only took a year for the ugly truth to be exposed and now I feel I have the right if not the obligation to point out that there are some extremely frustrating facets to university life. Positive thinking is generally a great driving force in life, we should all strive to think positively, but I swear sometimes the only remedy to stress, gloom and the autumn-blues is a good old rant about the petty little things that get on your last nerve. Sometimes it is necessary to have a raving, out-of-control rant fest, because it will inevitably end with you laughing at your own silliness and shooing some of that gloom away.
So to get the upper hand on the dreariness that is November, here are my top 5 university-related grievances:
1. People who sit at the ends of the long seating rows.
Let me paint the picture for you.
“Oh, excuse me, can I get past. Oops, sorry I didn’t realize you had that much stuff with you. Why are you getting annoyed? You’re the one who brought half of your belongings to class and then sat at the END of row, thus causing this situation we’re currently in!”
I have two hypotheses as to why the people who arrive to lectures early, barricade the rows. In both cases it’s a precaution not to be a disturbance to the rest of the class, which is thoughtful in theory, but proves to be the opposite in practice. Those people must either have little or no faith in their bladders’ capability to hold it in for 90 minutes or they want to be prepared for an unforeseen, highly unlikely emergency, which would require them to hastily leave in the middle of the lecture thus inconveniencing everyone. I would like to give my most humble suggestions for each case; use the toilet before the lecture starts and trust that in case of an emergency people will be cordial and maybe even show some understanding to your plight.
2. Professors who haven’t quite understood the idea behind a PowerPoint presentation.
25 rows of complete sentences, font size 8. Nailed it there, professor!
3. Brilliant researchers disguised as teachers.
It doesn’t take astonishing deduction skills to tell someone’s not much of an educator. A dead give-away is if it’s the ninth lecture, all the students still have a blank stare of incomprehensibility in their eyes and the teacher hasn’t picked up on it. A fountain on knowledge is admirable and inspiring but if it’s not harnessed with at least adequate pedagogical skills, its value is diminished to “I remember he wore pretty whimsical shirts to class”.
4. Three-minute discussions with a partner during a lecture.
Here’s an example for you:
“ Hey, what’s your name? “
“Hi, I’m Maisa, and you?”
“My name is Inka. Nice to meet you.”
“Oh, I think time’s up! Quick, what should we answer?”
I’ve honestly tried to understand, to put myself in their shoes, to imagine a life where concentrating on speech is virtually impossible without two needles and a ball of yarn in my hands, but I guess my head is just too thick and my world too small. To me knitting is still not a classroom activity.
In conclusion my suggestion to all fellow students and humans in general is as follows. If you’ve given the Valkee headset and daily mantras a chance and you still find yourself irritated by the details of your own little microcosmos, forget positivity for a while, write your grumbles down, scream them at a lamp post, get it all out and feel a little lighter.