Tuesday, November 29, 2005

It's the end of the world as we know it...

We have entered the final week of term, and suddenly the campus grounds have lost their students! Like cicadas in reverse, they seem to spend 7 weeks migrating from one all-night dance party to another, only to burrow into the ground for a week writing all of those papers they were meant to write months ago.

When the clock strikes midnight on Thursday here (Thursday being the first day of the school week, and just try getting used to that), students suddenly peel off the uber-miniskirts (we're talkin' shorter than undergarments sometimes), fling the bangles and hair gel aside, and rush out to find the articles on their reading lists. Then they clog the arteries of the library until the hallways become impassable clots of books and bodies. If you are a mildly disgruntled graduate student who's seen more of the library than of her own room in the last three months, this can be a source of great frustration that may cause you to boot the arse of the next inebriated slacker you encounter.

Suddenly, one's favorite study spot has become THE study spot -- but these undergraduates know how to have the best of both worlds. A vast quantity of them seem to study while hung over (or possibly still intoxicated, depending upon their level of commitment). It's become common for me to enter my favorite cafe with an armful of books, only to find sickly pale couples draped across the couches in various stages of dress. Most of them look quite distressed, perhaps because the only hangover food here consists of local delicacies like egg mayonnaise and Marmite (a vile, molasses-like brown substance that tastes like a salt lick and smells like fermented yeast). These students generally don't respond to requests that they crack open their books or leave to die somewhere away from my tea and biscuit; instead, they languish in the room groaning about how behind they've fallen, and texting friends to find out when the next pub crawl begins.

It's sort of like Greek Row, only far more professional. I'm pretty sure that most students here actually pass their exams, although rumor has it that you technically could fail everything and still graduate. Your liver may not survive past 24, but at least you'd have some sort of degree. But the drinking...I'm an amateur here, as I've mentioned before: a few pints and I'm apparently telling stories to friends that leave them longing to make me drink more often. I don't know how anyone develops such an astounding tolerance, but it's a considerable disadvantage for those of us from stodgy countries who don't let 18 year-olds near alcohol.

Alas, it's late and I must go. If I get up early enough, I've noticed that I can still snag the couch before the late-night crowd staggers in for coffee. I think I actually preferred it when they didn't feel obliged to work and just spent all day in bed.

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