Updated: May 7, 2020
By Najma Aden
Coming straight from sixth form/college, you probably have no idea what to expect of a lecture. I know I didn’t. I envisioned an old auditorium with chalk boards up front and a crazy-haired professor babbling wildly at his students. I thought we’d have weekly pop quizzes where students would compete to be the first to shout out the answer.
It’s the polar opposite.
Large lecture theatres are often only half full, with the first few rows left bare because sitting too close to the lecturer invites trouble in the form of uncomfortable questions and even more unnerving eye contact. And if, God forbid, the lecturer is one that likes to walk up and down the rows of seats, there is a Mexican wave of head turns any time they get close. No one shouts any answers out, all you hear apart from the lecturer is the angry typing of Macbook owners. Nonetheless, not everyone has the budding enthusiasm of these individuals. There is an interesting array of people that you might see in a lecture theatre. Let’s talk about some of them;
The annoying latecomer
Your focus is great, you find yourself managing to keep up with the lecturer, when you hear the sound of the door closing and your attention drifts. One of your peers just waltzed in 15 minutes late and takes out an apple. He seems entirely unbothered, doesn’t even take out a book or a laptop to make notes with, and proceeds to just watch the walls. He raises the apple to his mouth, and the crunch seems to be louder than the lecturer themselves - who is using a mic. You’re trying to regain your focus, but with every bite they take you find it drifting further and further away from you.
Mr Know It All
This guy arrives 15 minutes early to the lecture hall and has an entire set up laid out in front of them. They’ve got their swanky iPad out and they’re already annotating the lecturer’s slides, probably correcting them. Someone could be having a cardiac arrest in the seat next to them, but their eye contact with the lecturer will still be unwavering. They’re the only one to answer the lecturer when a question is asked, and the answer they give leaves even the lecturer stumped. During the optional Q&A sectioned at the end of the session, their unlimited stream of questions are the reason the lecture extends well beyond its end time. You might even catch the lecturer checking their wristwatch. Even in their sense of dress, they look more like a lecturer than the lecturer themselves.
The gossip girls
Every lecture has that one gaggle of friends sat in the last few rows of the theatre, annoying everyone with their furious whispers (if you can even call it that). They’re on it for the first 5 minutes, and then all focus is out of the window. This is usually triggered by a notification or one of them spotting a cute guy (which, unfortunately, is a rarity). They then spend the remainder of the session sending each other food posts, planning their next motive, or online shopping. You’ll often hear barely muffled giggles and snorts, which leads to some angry stares from their overeager peers. Basically, if you want to learn anything at all, sit at least 3 rows away in any direction.
The gossip girls are always accompanied by that one person who actually wants to get work done. They’re always huffing and sighing out of irritation, taking their anger out on their poor laptop. They have grown accustomed to a constant tapping on their shoulder, a friend begging for their attention that they are unwilling to yield. The strength of their focus can only be likened to vibranium.
The entire lecture theatre is this person during freshers week. A cacophony of coughs drowns out the lecturer’s voice, meaning all you hear are people hacking out their lungs. You think you’ll be fine; you can just listen to the podcast and get everything down. But, no. Their coughing is almost haunting you, it’s in the podcasts, in your teaching sessions, in YOUR DREAMS. Sorry, I mean nightmares.
This guy has been asleep the entire lecture, but when a question is posed to the group, his head is up like a whack-a-mole. The opportunity for controversy is too good to miss. They claim to love debate, when they really just love being perceived as ‘different’, and inciting arguments fills them with satisfaction and leaves them feeling accomplished. Their input is dreaded by all, because it most likely won’t be of any substance or contribute to the discussion in any positive way. They just love to talk.
Some people are vehemently anti-lecture, so when they show up mid-semester, they are greeted with looks of confusion and questions of disbelief. They swear by podcasts but were lured into the lecture theatre by the recording of the lecture not being made available afterwards. They are hot mess personified and look like they’re hanging on by their last thread because there’s no IRL pause button.
Netflix and Chill
This person is so fixated on their screen that they have to be writing lecture notes, right? Wrong. A quick glance will tell you it’s anything but that. You might see Detective Jake Peralta throwing out some funny one liner, or catch Tommy Shelby being cut-throat once again. They’ve mastered the art of appearing productive, yet they are truly living life, and give zero hoots. When exam season rolls around, they still pass with flying colours.
· the faint snoring you hear from the student who didn’t get any sleep last night
· the smell of food and the slurping of iced coffees
· the first few notes of a song before the poor embarrassed soul scrambles to turn their music off
· the one catching up on the previous lecture during this lecture
Zoning out during a lecture will make these characters apparent to you. I wonder who you’ll be.