Let me walk you through my day. After what I can only describe as a two hour NAP, I get up at 5am, scramble for some coffee in the dark and throw a handful of pre-cut sweet potatoes in a pot on the stove. I will be on campus all day and there are only so many Nakd bars one can substitute meals with. I rush upstairs and recover my half closed laptop from under the bed – was evidently too tired to get up and place it on my desk before I fell asleep. No. ‘Fell asleep’ implies intent. ‘Ceased resisting the urge to pass out’ – better. I spend the next half hour revising my essay, due by noon. Shower. Get Dressed. Pack my bag. As I attempt to cover the dark circles under my eyes, I notice the various beige blotches on the keyboard of my beloved Mac – remnants of another day of rushed preparations.
Suddenly, a deafening sound pierces the silence and I knock my coffee over. Goodbye notes. As you likely predicted, it is the fire alarm, issuing a gentle reminder that my lunch is burning. I conjure images of flatmates substituting the contents of my shampoo bottle with hair removal cream, cringe and carry on. Eventually I make it to the library. The ‘couple of tweaks’ end up with me awkwardly speed-walking towards Herbert Manzoni, in order to successfully submit my paper with all of 4 minutes to spare. Brief relief… But my day has only just begun.
Lectures. Emails about upcoming meetings. Meetings that could have been e-mails. Double shifts at work. The truth is I spend 5 to 6 hours a week in lectures or seminars. I spend more than twice that time (a VERY conservative estimate) on campus, in capacities related to extracurricular activities or my part-time job. I won’t bore you with the specifics. Odds are you, yourself, religiously show up to training for one sport or another, sit on a RAG/Hall/Departmental committee and flip burgers at McDonalds a couple of times a week for an extra buck. But this is precisely my point. Students nowadays are stretched thin.
The “transferable skills” mantra is drilled into us from our first day at University – a diploma is no longer enough. Today, majority of young people are streamlined into University, where every effort is made to shovel as many of us out with a 2:1 as possible. Don’t get me wrong, I genuinely believe everyone should have access to education (and not for the price of £9,000 either but that is a different rant). Undeniably, however, the competition for jobs and other opportunities is fiercer than ever. So we take on that extra role, we give up that extra time and hour of sleep. We end up constantly wired, stressed, and burned out.
Most days I feel like I am failing at most roles I am meant to be performing. On a continuous loop. It feels like I am forever pushing a massive rock up a hill, only to find respite in sleep and discover that very same rock back at the bottom of that very same hill the next morning. So, occasionally, I call it quits, slap some red lipstick on and hit up FND with my friends. The photographer inevitably takes an unflattering snap that makes it to my newsfeed and I wake up to my mum having commented “Do you ever even make it into Uni?” on Facebook.
The sheer audacity.
– By Natali Dimitrova, Features Editor