Learning habitatsBy TheStudentGuide
How you'll learn at uni
Learning at university is a full-time occupation. You might be used to leaving education behind when you exit the classroom, but that’ll all change once you’re a fully fledged fresher.
Forget everything American movies have taught you about lectures. Professors are rarely sexy; they don’t often bounce across the stage gripped with academic fervour; spontaneous intellectual debates with the audience never take place.
Usually held in the ungodly hours of the morning (before lunchtime), lectures typically involve you and all your bleary eyed course mates gathered together to watch one of your department’s reluctant academics deliver a frustratingly hazy account of things you should probably know for the exam. Attendance numbers will inevitably start to dwindle as soon as people discover that lecturers put their notes online.
First things first, unlike lectures, seminars are mandatory. Be sure to plan your hangovers around them. They take place in smaller groups of around 10-15 students, making it much harder to hide.
Most people only learn to fully appreciate the term ‘awkward silence’ after sitting through a couple of university seminars. Unless you’re lucky enough to get grouped in with one of those gobby know-it-all types (aka, people who have actually done the reading), seminars are mostly spent desperately checking the time, and daubing your sweaty forehead in the unsettling knowledge that you could be asked a question at any second.
Arts students don’t know how easy they’ve got it. People studying chemistry, engineering, medicine etc, can’t just go to the library and look in a book for a few quick answers, they have to make their own answers by conducting lab work. For a couple of hours every week, you and 10-15 of your fellow course mates will spend time in white coats and geek-worthy eye goggles to participate in all kinds of practical learning tomfoolery. It’s best to single out early on who you’ll be able to nick results off of during those weeks when you just can’t be arsed.
In theory, this should be the place where you spend the most time of all.
In reality, the library is often little more than a glorified social club. People visit with good intentions, but very few leave feeling as though they’ve accomplished all they’d hoped for. Instead of studiously worming your way through a hefty stack of books, your library time will instead be spent deciphering the university classification system, gazing out of windows, talking to vague acquaintances/course mates/people you got off with on Thursday night, and photocopying extracts that you might possibly read at home later.
Most library endeavours fail because people tell themselves that they can always do the work later, in the comfort of their own bedrooms. Always a rookie mistake, my friend. Once at home you’re vulnerable to no-end of distractions. Jeremy Kyle, Facebook, eating, making cups of tea, housemates, invitations to the pub... the list goes on.
You may have made a noble attempt at doing work in the library, and then your bedroom, but ultimately even the most dedicated student will end up heading to the pub. Some of the greatest minds of the 20th Century were irrigated by a splash of the naughty sauce; Winston Churchill, Ernest Hemingway, Kurt Cobain... admittedly they all pushed it a bit too far, but you may find that some of your most stimulating intellectual conversations take place in the back of a dingy bar, over a couple of Jagerbombs.