To find the best spot in the John Rylands University of Manchester library during the exam period is a state of art. It requires years of practice, carefully prepared strategy, patience, nerve, arrogance, and sometimes hard muscles.

First of all, you have got to realize that during the summer exam period, all Manchester students start loving the library. Most of them (including me of course) simply cannot concentrate on the ultimately exciting subjects at home. I personally find everything to do but to study while I am in my house. I start by cleaning the whole room, arranging my clothes by color, matching, size, type, season, etc. Then I change my sheets (sometimes 2-3 times a week), I wash my clothes (although I washed them the other day), I clean the bathroom, the toilet, the kitchen.

When I am done and satisfied that the whole house resembles a hospital, I start with myself. I decide that the best time to look absolutely astonishing is of course during exam period when no one is going to see me. I take a long hot shower and then I start shaving every part of my body that can be shaved. I do my nails, I straighten my hair, I even apply some make up. I put on every possible lotion I have and then I put on my most fabulous clothes. And I am done. I have done absolutely everything but study. ( I skip cooking on purpose. I can never be bored enough to start cooking. I even prefer studying to cooking).

That is why, you understand, it is absolutely crucial to find the best place in the library. Especially when you are final year, you have 1 more essay and 3 more exams, and you get the diploma you so hard worked for (drunk for) for 3 damn years. So here are the rules of a specialist, who by now has mastered to perfection the art of surviving in the library.

1. Choose your group – You have got to understand that there are two types of students during exam period – the larks and the owls. The larks come early in the morning (around 8 and 9) and stay up until 8 or 9 in the evening. Then the owls take over, who spend the whole night. Of course there are some random (obviously confused) students, who come in the middle of the shifts, but for them it is absolutely impossible to find a good spot. That is why, choose your type and stick to it. Only come when the shifts change.

2. Toilet and Water – It is absolutely essential that your spot is as close to the toilet and to the water fountain as possible. The library is huge and you don’t want to spend 10 minutes in one direction going to the toilet. I know, this may seem as a distraction of studying, but is a pure waste of time. Do your thing in the library and then go home and distract yourself. Same applies for the water. You will be drinking a lot of water (in addition to coffee) so be sure you strategically position yourself next to the water fountain.

3. Floor – Years of practice have shown me that the best floor to be on is the 2nd one. Not the 3rd or the 4th one, or the 1st one, but the second one. If you are a smoker (as I am), your most favorite break is going outside for a cigarette and feeling how the nicotine slowly releases your body from the anger, tiredness, and basically the shitness of the whole situation. The second floor is the best because you get to do some exercise (don’t use the lift!) but you don’t do as much as to get tired if you are for example on the 3rd or the 4th floor. That’s called strategy! Combining effective study with a little bit of care for your body.

4. Patience – You have got to have a lot of that in order to survive in a library full of hungry for knowledge (or grades) students. You will be waiting for a computer (almost impossible task unless you are so luck that you come just when the shifts change; see point 1), for a printer, for the toilet, for the water, for a coffee, to get out, to get in. I will assure you, you will even wait to wait. So gather together all of your patience, possibly bring your laptop so that you don’t waste precious time waiting for a computer and get in line.

5. Nerve – Lots of nerve. Really lots of it. You’ve got to understand that even though you may have come to the library to study, others may have other arrangements. Some students come to socialize, to chat, to eat, to see their friends, to go around, to watch movies, to facebook (I think dictionaries should include this as an official verb now), basically to do anything but to study. These people are different than you. They love spending 10-15 hours in the library doing absolutely no productive work. You want to get in, do your thing, and then get out (please don’t get the sex analogy here). So they will do anything to stop you (unintentionally of course) for finishing your work. My personal favorites are the one that eat. First, they apple champ. Then they start with the crisps, which really is the most annoying thing. Crisp, after crisp, after crisp…and there you go. My concentration is only on when these fucking crisps are going to be over. The other ones are the ones that socialize. They murmur quietly, but loud enough to make you participate in their conversation. Soon enough you know that he broke up with her, but then texted her in the middle of the night (boody call), now he has a new girlfriend, but he is obviously still in love with her. There are some strategies to deal with them. The most effective one – look at them scary (if you can) or at least annoyed, angry, whatever expression you can get on your face. Do that in intervals of 2-3 minutes. If they don’t get the point, well fucking tell them to SHUT UP!

6. Muscles – Well, I haven’t used aggression in the library yet but you got to be careful that others might be willing to do so. So much studying is definitely bad for you so from times to times someone might need to release this anger and you might be unlucky enough to be very close to him. This is where the exercise I mentioned in point 3 comes very handy. Still, some harmless shouting, yelling, and arguing is good to get rid of the tiredness, desperation, and hopeless need of a strong drink and to blame everyone else that it is their fault you didn’t go to a single lecture during the semester and now you have to read 500 pages (and learn them for that matter) in 3 days.

Well, if you are prepared to follow all of these instructions, don’t be such a fool that this guarantees you a 1st in the exams and a happy summer. My best advice is, get your lazy ass, go to lectures during the semester, and don’t leave everything for the last minute. That’s the good thing about advice – I am great at giving them, but I suck at following them.

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