What to do at the end of term

Heather Stewart

Faculty: Science and Engineering
School: Vision and Hearing Sciences
Course: BOptom (Hons) Optometry
Category: Vision and hearing sciences

5 June 2015

An eight-step programme of entertainments delectations and fascinations for the amusement of the burnt-out student body. By long-time student and procrastinator, Heather Stewart.

1. Refreshments

The canny and imaginative student brain will have acquired all manner of victuals to see them through over the duration of term. However, now the end is nigh and there is a veritable smorgasbord of family-size pasta sauce jars, bulk-bought beans and burger buns in your cupboard.

In case of this unfortunate situation, organise a Jacob’s Join or other social gathering to lure bodies in to your student lair and ply them with the excess food. Charge entry fees, you are not a charity.

2. Amusements

The satisfactory passing of time comes in two forms: productive or enjoyable. The productive kind may involve such heavy-duty tasks as revision, extra reading and/or personal administration (banking, applying for summer jobs, etc) all of which may be entirely requisite, but none of which may be considered to be procrastinating. If you find yourself filling in a long-winded form, calculating potential salaries or checking bus schedules of any kind, stop immediately. You are suffering from self-motivation, the only known cure for anyone born after 1985 is the internet. Dosage: 2 hours, to be taken at 3-hourly intervals around meals. Method: popular platforms include Netflix, Facebook, YouTube and Twitter (other online amusements are also available). Should you waver and begin shuffling papers while looking away from the screen, change platforms as soon as is safe to do so.

3. Libations

Alcoholic beverages often receive vilification for their potential to incite the consumer to acts of wanton stupidity and/or recklessness. However, when utilised shrewdly it can be the tool with which one can access the highest functioning procrastinatory parts of one’s brain and while away the hours in a haze of light-hearted repartee. If you have a favourite beverage and are going to a friend’s house to consume alcohol, be sure to take a measure or two in a hip-flask, and avoid those awkward moments when you spy your friend’s fridge and shelf after shelf of disappointment confronts you. Of course, in addition to merely drinking substances containing ethanol, one may prefer to use it in cooking and/or the making of cocktails, which have in recent years become interchangeable activities. Eggnog pancakes, Kahlua fudge, sherry trifle, Crepe Suzette, beer bread and Coq au Vin are just some of the ways the modern student can imbibe their weekly allocation of units.

4. Java

The grinding, roasting and/or mixation with boiling water of the coffee bean is taken to be a near art form in its own right these days. For some it is a state of mind to be shared with friends and conversation, for others it is a necessary expedient for the getting out of bed, for still others it is a way to warm one’s cockles on a chilly May morning in Cambridge. For the Procrastination Connoisseur it can be a way to extract oneself from one’s desk and loiter around the kettle for a good half an hour, or better yet, make the trek to a favourite coffee-peddling outlet and purchase the steaming beverage while also inhaling extra caffeinated fumes from the very air itself.

5. Expeditions

This broad and indeed incredibly variable term might include such activities as venturing to the North Pole or dashing out to the shops to relieve them of the last cut-price chicken before it closes. However, in order to not be productive in any way whatever, one must think laterally. A trip to the Botanical Gardens, a stroll around the Fitzwilliam, or tinkling the ivories in the Grand Arcade are all powerfully futile yet joyously pleasurable ways to spend an afternoon in between or after examinations have taken place. As always, safety must come first, and so the layering up of one’s clothing is advised, due to the changeable and unforgiving nature of the microclimate that Cambridge casts down upon its citizens. However, as Henry David Thoreau once said: ‘Beware of any enterprise that requires new clothes’, it may be difficult, stressful and/or dull.

6. Culinary arts

As well as eating to live, one may live to eat. As general food disposal has already been considered, let us focus now on baking and the creation of desserts. The addition of sugar to any dish is arguably an improvement on it. Instating chocolate and sugar as the main ingredients of the dish cannot fail to make it a triumph. As well as the bog standard biscuit and pastry, in order to squander the maximal amount of time, one must dream big. Think croquembouche, think six-foot-long strudel, think five tiers and sugar spinning and chocolate shards. No matter what your experience you are encouraged to dive right in, though less experience is preferable.

7. Reorganisation

Unless you are planning on staying in your accommodation over the summer, you will need to accumulate your belongings into small enough piles to be able to haul into trains, cars, buses or whatever mode of transport available to get them back to your summer retreat. Packaging is often bulky and may be responsibly recycled. Half destroyed saucepans may be donated or cast asunder. Unwanted books may be gifted to friends or other associations in need. Food should be thoroughly devoured. Toiletries should be splashed around liberally and with such abandon as to use them up in an inordinately short space of time. Paper clips, string and lint are all unnecessary hindrances and will burden you on long voyages.

8. Notation

This final section is of especial interest to third year students, although any student having completed a particularly painful module will find this useful. Upon exam or assignment completion, collect all extraneous notage pertaining to this subject in a single area and do unto that pile of paper whatever your heart desires. If indoors, fires are not recommended, but savage tearing, hacking at with scissors and screwing up of said notes will bestow upon the beleaguered and disenfranchised student a new sense of calm, and the mind will henceforth be wiped clean of any knowledge of what those papers contained, leaving one’s brain a happily empty and handily lightweight vessel to carry about over the summer.



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