Diaries of a Third Year…
I’ve become something I could never really see myself being, my lifestyle has altered irrevocably, and I’m negotiating the fine line between being amusingly grumpy and annoyingly stroppy on a daily basis. Yes dear reader, I am what they call…a third year.
I’m an undergraduate on the cusp of no longer being one; I’m about to be released into the big bad world, and I’m not sure I like it. When I was a fresher (she says, dreamily putting her bifocals to one side), third years were either the occasional object of unbridled lust, – from afar, naturally – slightly intimidating, or just a distant, almost mythical breed. I was aware they existed, but I didn’t really know who they were, or have anything to do with them. Now that I am one, I’m not entirely sure which category I fall into – though I have to say that my chances of being the object of unbridled lust are at an all time low, if only for the reason that I am now invariably at the library, or rocking back and forth in my living room, neither of which are the hottest pick-up joints in town.
It is at the library that I see all of my friends, acquaintances, past conquests, lecturers (I even saw a local man who works at my nearest Co-Op heading purposefully, though somewhat confusingly, towards Amory), and thus my entire university life has been re-located to a site of utter soul destroying boredom and aesthetic disasters – are the walls orange at the moment? Or is it sludge green? No-one knows, as they are too busy slowly slumping over their desks, refreshing Facebook on a loop, inhaling Yorkies from the vending machine and painstakingly reading the same page over and over again, until a self-induced home-time beckons (it’s only 3pm? I’ll just walk home very, very slowly then.)
At least we have several to choose from; there’s the aforementioned playing-mind-games-with-you-by-changing-the-colour-of-these-asylum-walls Main Library, then there’s the Law Library, rather like a nursery for grown-ups, as people shout across the room to each other with gay abandon, and shovel an array of food into their faces. Here, as everywhere, there are never enough seats, and good God, don’t get me started on the horrors I’ve encountered in the nearby toilets. Then there’s the Old Library, with its basements that you feel you may not emerge from alive and also a general vibe of working in an underground government agency (or maybe that’s just me?) It’s lucky that I have so much choice, because the library is swiftly becoming my second home. I find myself loaded down with essays, presentations and more seminar work than I ever thought was humanly possible.
You can definitely spot a third year. In the same way that a first year still has that look of unmitigated youthful joy (or maybe it’s still that look of glazed inebriation from rolling out of Arena several hours before and feeling absolutely fine, they’re young, they can recover!) Not a third year, aged before their time, often to be found clasping a pile of approximately eighteen books to their permanently palpitating chests (fired by the fear of failure), smiling, but dying a little inside with each new library receipt they crumple up and shove into their pockets. Everyone says, ‘We must catch up, when we’re…err, free…’ They trail off miserably, their eyes looking slightly bloodshot after staring at a computer screen for too long – they’ll never be free.
Now of course, sometimes people say they’re busy because they never want to see the person they’ve inadvertently and oh so erroneously run into again. But sometimes it really is because work takes over and a cycle of stress and all-nighters invades until, hang on, three weeks have passed? There are those occasional moments of sweet relief when you do go out and feel that rare, beautiful, Tequila infused, magical feeling of being alive. Being surrounded by hundreds of sweaty bodies. Dancing til your feet hurt. Doing circuits of a club and seeing everyone you know – they’ve somehow been miraculously transferred from the library by some higher power – and dragging them to the bar to do shots with you. Staggering home with your friends and discussing every last ounce of detail of the night, just because you can.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not that bad, and it’s not all the time. It’s still a very charmed life, particularly when one starts contemplating getting that thing…erm, what’s it called? Oh yeah – a job! But please, savour the good times while they still flow in abundance, because, before you know it, you’ll join that desirable/intimidating/elusive (delete as applicable) brigade of third years, and then it’s just a short leap to listening to the Archers, actively participating during Countdown and muttering to yourself as you look for your misplaced walking stick. That sounds rather fun actually. Oh dear.