A Day In The Life (Of An Unproductive Cambridge Student)

A Day In The Life (Of An Unproductive Cambridge Student)

Engie @ Musings From Neville’s Navel recently wrote a post detailing how she spends her days: A Day in the Life of a Homeschooled Senior. She’s done this a few times over the past few years, and I always find it interesting to know how others spend their time, especially when their life is very different from mine. For example, I’ve never been homeschooled nor had friends who were, so it’s new to me.

I decided to do my own ‘day in the life’ so that you can see what it’s like for a Cambridge student during the dreaded ‘exam term’. But I’m afraid things didn’t go entirely to plan…

9.30: My alarm goes off. I went to bed late, and have no morning lectures, so I hadn’t set it too early. Just early enough that I have time to do some translation and essay preparation in the morning. Even so, I snooze it. And again. And again. And again. Eventually it stops going off. I am still in bed. This is a mistake.

12.30: I wake up. Uh-oh. There goes my productive morning.

12.35: I log onto my college emails and check the menus for today. There’s nothing I want to eat for lunch, so I don’t bother hurrying to go and get something. And there’s not a lot of point starting work now, because I have to go out soon. I mess around online for a while, pay this term’s college bill, and look sadly at my bank balance once I’ve done so.

13.10: Lunch consists of two toasted pitta breads with butter, a packet of crisps, and a couple of Jaffa cakes. It’s not exactly nutritious, but it’s quick and easy.

13.30: I get dressed. It turns out later that I’m too optimistic about how warm the weather is, but for now I’ll bask in my summery clothes.

13.40: I’m packing my laptop up for lectures when my phone buzzes. My Scandinavian history lecture isn’t in the normal room or even the normal building, says one of my friends. I need to get moving if I’m going to be there on time.

13.55: Even though I’m running late I pop to my pigeonhole in the post room on my way, and pick up a parcel: battery operated tealights, because I like having candles but we’re not allowed them in our rooms, so these will have to do as an alternative.

14.00: Scandi history. I actually quite like this room, which is a very traditional lecture theatre. The topic isn’t actually relevant to me, though, as it focuses on exam technique for a paper I’ve already taken, and I’m probably not going to carry on this subject next year. I make a few notes, but get distracted working on a story in my notebook for most of it. The advantage of this room is that nobody except the friend sitting next to me can see that what I’m writing is not related to Norway, but to a smuggler on a fictional planet.

This totally looks like lecture notes, right?
This totally looks like lecture notes, right?

15.00: Old Norse now, which is in the usual building but not the usual room, so I head over there with a couple of classmates. We’re working on ‘unseen’ translation, and while I know slightly more vocab than I did before the holiday, it’s not enough. My laptop starts making noises as though it is about to (a) take off or (b) explode. We prop it on grammar books to let the air circulate. This works fine until the grammar books are needed again.

16.00: I survived Old Norse, although I drop my bag as I’m packing it, so hopefully my laptop isn’t too battered. Poor thing.

16.15: Back in my room, I do a few bits and pieces that have been building up. I do the washing up, take the rubbish from my bin to the wheelie bin outside, put away the clean laundry I did on Friday which has been taking ages to dry, and fill the kettle for a cup of tea.

16.40: Ahhh, tea. I play the harp for a little while, but it’s out of tune and my hands are aching from taking notes in Old Norse, so I don’t play for long.

16.50: I turn on my computer to type up my day so far and procrastinate for a while.

17.00: I check in with a friend dealing with a recent break-up. We’ve both had unproductive days. That’s comforting, knowing that I’m not alone.

17.30: I have a conversation with Engie about politics, explaining a bit about how the UK system works and the fact that I’m able to vote from Cambridge even though my permanent address is in London. We have fun looking up all the symbols that parties use, in the UK and the US.

18.15: I type up another chapter or page of my SFF story, Alone With The Owl, most of which I wrote in my Scandi history lecture earlier. It’s getting longer. I still don’t know how it’s going to end.

18.40: It’s time for food. I really need to decide what to cook this evening — I’m torn between the easy option (a ready meal) and the hard option (sausages, hash browns and vegetables). The latter requires a lot more washing up, but at the same time, the kitchen is much cleaner on Mondays and nicer to cook in. Perhaps I should opt for that one.

18.45: I do. My babycorn is going to go off if I don’t eat it soon, and I add some mange-tous as well. I don’t have an oven, so I have to fry or boil everything.

I am a skilled cook.
I am a skilled cook.

19.15: I learn some vocab on Memrise.com, both on the computer and my phone. They’ve redesigned the app and it confuses me for a moment or two.

19.45: I wash up from dinner.

20.00: Welfare Tea! This is one of my favourite things about my college. There’s free tea and cake, and colouring books and bubble wrap to pop and it’s generally designed to de-stress students. I take my vocab with me, though, and work on that half the time.

20.55: I leave Welfare Tea and make my way to the library. It’s pretty full: it isn’t overly easy to find a table but I do find one.

21.00: Time for some hardcore Old Irish translation, a slow process that involves the messy part of translation by hand (word by word) and then a complete sentence typed up with both the Old Irish and the English.

Those late-night Old Irish feels...
Those late-night Old Irish feels…

22.25: I need a break. I head back to my room, have a drink and a shower and then set off back to the library, now in my pyjamas.

22.50: Back to the Old Irish. I’m on the last section that needs doing before tomorrow morning, so that’s progress. Getting quite tired though.

23.45: I’m done! Well, there are gaps, but I now have translation to work from in class tomorrow, actually for the first time ever — I was behind all of last term because of missed classes and poor health, so this is the closest I’ve come to being caught up. I add to the draft of this blog post before I forget the details, and then start packing up my books and things.

20150427_23455200.00: Back in my room I realise that I’m hungry despite the inordinate amount of biscuits I ate at Welfare Tea. Time for toast — and a cup of ‘snore and peace’, a tea (well, ‘infusion’) with camomile, lavender, mint, fennel etc designed to help relax you.

00.20: I write my journal.

00.30: I turn the main light off and listen to the ‘Kyrie’ from a Byrd mass by the light of my pretend candles — it’s a way of winding down.

00.45: Last bits and pieces like cleaning my teeth and setting multiple alarms, then bed.

So, that was my day. It wasn’t the most productive day I’ve had — sleeping all morning made sure of that. But it also could have been worse, because I had a pretty productive evening and also managed to do various time-consuming things like cooking for myself and washing up.  My exams don’t start until June so unlike many of my fellow students, I’m not quite so stressed out, but I probably need to stop oversleeping… and possibly start going to bed earlier.

I woke up at eight today and have already been outside to ‘meditate’ (stare vaguely into space) with friends to help me wake up, so maybe today will be better. How did you spend your day?

5 thoughts on “A Day In The Life (Of An Unproductive Cambridge Student)

  1. But woah, you seriously packed a lot in at night! (The free cake and tea sounds heavenly.) I loved Engie’s post (and yours, obviously xD) and have been considering doing one buuut I’ve been mega unproductive lately and probably shouldn’t confess it to the world, hehe. XD

    1. This was my most productive day in quite a while, don’t worry. And yup, I’m pretty nocturnal so I tend to wake up in the evenings and I start actually functioning then.

  2. I’m about as productive as that, even on a good day. Probably less so, as I am incapable of doing anything after about 10pm as all the high functioning parts of my brain go to mush. Sounds like you’re dealing with non-existent mornings pretty well to me, even if part of me wants to hiss at you to get more sleep, dammit! xD

    1. I’m so nocturnal, I struggle to work in the mornings so working late is usually my best option. And hey, I slept over ten hours, they just happened to be at the wrong time of day.
      (I was counting this as unproductive by Cambridge exam term standards, not general life standards.)

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