As I write, we are in the middle of week 10; LSE students are struggling to get their essays done in due time and wish they were already on vacation.
My experience with one of my essays (on disciplinary power) was quite tough. Since my deadline was this Monday, I had first planned to start writing at the beginning of week 9, every day, in the library. Yet, after a few days, I couldn’t take any more of going into the crowded library, where people talked about how they were freaking out because they had deadlines coming up, and, even when they didn’t say anything, I could still hear students sighing every now and then and typing madly on the LSE computer keyboards.
Along with the majority of my course mates, I started going to our department’s research lab to which we had exclusive access with a password. We actually have two rooms, but the one I use has a small cozy computer lab, and five creepy individual rooms, where you only get a desk, a computer and a desk lamp. Inside, the walls are dark grey and, once you enter, it feels like you’ll never get to see daylight again. Nevertheless, ironically everyone would fight to have a space in these rooms, perhaps because we want to have our private study space no matter what.
During the day we would help each other, discussing our essay issues and giving each other feedback. After 6pm however, most of the students would leave and only a few of us would stay. We would get distracted every now and then and knock at each others’ doors to talk about everything that had nothing to do with our essays. It was a way of escaping and at the same time of feeling relieved that there was something else going on in our lives then just staying here and writing our essays. The worst part was realizing that it was nighttime already and that everything on campus was closed. It was quite an adventure to find something nearby to eat and then come back and work.
Then the weekend would finally come and I noticed that almost everyone preferred to stay home to write their essays, probably thinking that it would help them to panic less. The weekends started to become tougher. I would literally live on campus. At midday, for instance, I would head to Wright’s bar and allow myself to take my time to eat, and then I would head back to my department and get back to work. After a couple of hours I was already heading back to the Student Union shop to buy some snacks, and even if I didn’t do that, someone else surely had done it and was sharing a bag of crisps with me.
After eating, I would go back to staring at my laptop screen and read, and re-read again what I had just written. And as someone who always tries to do better, I would re-write it again. After reading ten extra scientific articles, I still felt unsatisfied with the content of my essay, and would go back to read more and more, almost flooding myself with all these intellectual readings that seemed to contribute, each and every one of them, to my essay topic. Again, every now and then I would start feeling starving hungry, and would take the secret passageway that most of my course mates do not know about. I would go up the stairs to the fourth floor and smoothly sneak along the shivery St. Clement’s bridge to the Old Building, and head off to a closed and deserted 4th floor restaurant. The vending machines were luckily always packed with snacks and beverages to fill my stomach.
When I got back to my usual study spot, I had to make the tough decision that 2,000 words unfortunately cannot allow me to document everything I’ve read so far, and to show my grasp of the depth of the subject. I believe that is the worst and, at the same time, the best exercise that LSE teaches us, as ambitious and eager-to-learn students, that we have to be concise, and keep everything to the point, whilst making sacrifices in writing.
By Sunday night, I was done writing, and was so annoyed with the fact that I had to read through my essay again, that I chose only to skim it and print it out. The next morning, at 10 am, I came to the research lab just to stick around and prepare for the day, and found my course mates still typing like crazy inspired students on their keyboards, two hours before the deadline. However, once our deadline was over, I felt like the clouded departmental atmosphere became progressively clear and calm. I could see how everyone seemed comforted that the essay was over, but at the same time worn out. The day ended shortly when everyone decided to go home and rest, after a long week of essay writing.