The pressure mounts. Buses are full by 8am and we pile off in hoards, heading straight to the library where we will compete for a seat (preferably with a socket) and breath in the stale, repetitive air of stress and tension.
We rush in through the automatic doors (no one thinks to use the manual one – what the fuck is a handle, anyway?) and strategically sum up whether it would be quicker to take the lift or rush (in a non-obvious and elegant way, of course) up the stairs.
I am a stairs person, committing myself solidly to the extra 2 years of life I’ve been promised by some scientist whose first theory idea probably failed. I ignore the café (the queue is far too long to even consider tackling before my backpack has safely been placed onto a desk) and head on my way.
The first floor is quite clearly for first years to trawl through the foreign newspapers and pretend they’re working. It is full of the sweet, but nauseating, babble of The Fresh who still dream of getting a first. I ignore this parallel universe and head to floor 2.
Floor 2 is the Loud Floor. Here, when people see each other, they act as though they’ve been reunited for the first time in years. The same dull conversation circulates every group of friends:
“So, how’s revision going?”
“Oh, you know, really shit.” They both laugh hysterically and continue to not revise.
There’s always that one girl on floor 2 (I call her the Loud Bitch) who doesn’t come to study. In fact, the library is where she obtains more rungs for her social ladder. She saunters around the floor, making her hourly rounds, and we are all forced to listen to the latest accounts of her thrilling life.
I move onto floor 3. This is where shit gets real. It’s quiet here and library monitors stroll ominously between the bookshelves, clipboard in hand and their expressions a confused mixture of power, futility and boredom.
This floor is full, mainly thanks to those immoral beings who ask friends to save a seat for them. They rock up three hours later, fresh-faced and beaming because they didn’t have to wake up at 7 like the rest of us. These people are my worst.
Consequently, I know the time has come to take my search more seriously – this means heading straight to Floor 5.
Floor 5 is where the lawyers and economists live. Occasionally one might find a Humanities student there, but he or she will look lost and a little bit frightened. Students set up camp on Floor 5; they come earlier than any of us, weighed down with enough food to get them through the day, and leave when the rest of us are most likely in bed. The silence is oppressive here, I even take off my bangles because I’m scared of the noise they make. I know I will never dare to open my packet of crips on this floor.
Nonetheless, at least I find a seat. It glows invitingly and I head straight towards it without bothering to find a nicer seat, maybe by a window – you can’t be fussy in Term 3. I heave my backpack onto the desk and sigh a loud, long sigh of triumph. The Floor 5 gremlins glare at me, emphasising the magenta circles under their hollow, lifeless eyes.
And thus the general atmosphere or Term 3 has begun.