This place will burst like fireworks.
I don’t really know how we got here, this atmosphere was built little by little throughout the break… But last week (Week 1 of Summer Term) LSE was transformed into a giant cauldron of nerves and stress.
STARTING FROM THE BEGINNING…
I had a great break. According to my Google Maps timeline I spent 27 days, out of 31, in the Library. Not unlike winter break, I had summative essays to work on – four of them to be exact.
Also not unlike the winter break, the daily Rosebery dinner was replaced with breakfast. I usually took my time eating with different people and getting to meet new friends. I then walked to the library with my friend Miso, and worked on my essays until the time to grab a quick lunch. And after that on until 6 or 7PM.
I worked together with LSE Life in all of my essays, which was a great way to share the loneliness of doing it all by myself.
I knew that most of my friends were really stressed, most of the people – not me – have exams now and everyone has been working really hard. But over the break things were manageable. We would go out for dinner, we had fun in the dining room, we met for lunch.
However this last week, all of a sudden, if I got to campus at ten there is no place whatsoever in the Library, there is no joy, people are exhausted and the LSE SU launched something called De-Stress Fest – which apparently is a local tradition – that will include having dogs around campus for people to play with them (I would honestly have prefered kittens). Departments are handing out stress balls as a gift to students – as if they weren’t already one of the causes of the stress in a first place. The library is open 24/7 and there are biscuits being served for free from 8PM.
Over the break, I was really pumped to work on my essays, do my readings and focus on producing my own work. So I thought that going to the LSE library on a Sunday morning was just part of a full year of my life as a master’s student that I am dedicating to challenging myself intellectually. And I was doing it gracefully because I saw the meaning of it.
But now, I am seeing people lose their minds as the exams that will define the outcome of their whole year approach – some of them came here thinking that they would produce meaningful knowledge, but now they are facing exams exactly like those they had in undergrad level. I myself became stressed on the loop because I have to deepen the work in my dissertation and have no idea how to start, not to say all of the things I talked about here.
I am seeing departments giving out stress balls, but I wonder if these departments have ensured that the students have the opportunity to explore their academic interests before they are forced into sitting exams and being reduced to a single grade. I wonder if these departments have handbooks with unified directives for teaching and evaluation so that students and lecturers know what to expect. I wonder if the criteria for evaluation is clearly published, I wonder if professors follow these criteria – Kudos to the Media and Communications department that actually does all of these things. I wonder if professors treat students as adults who made an important life decision when moving here, or as teenagers.
I love that the LSE Library is open 24/7 and that they are serving us coffee. It made complete sense when I was happy developing my work and needed some liquid energy.
But I cannot help but think that this is part of a normalized stress culture. And I really wonder if it is truly necessary, or if it just compensates for things that could easily be re-organized. Is there joy behind people’s stress? Is there excitement in their work or just pressure?
LSE prides itself in having a busy examination period because it shows a sign of resilience and strength to have hard-working students but is this work something towards which they are really passionate about or are they just running on the mouse wheel?
I don’t claim to have any answers, and a lot of people disagree with me. But I can ensure to you that if you light a match in LSE campus at the moment, this place would burst into flames from accumulated stress and energy.