It’s 2pm on a Wednesday afternoon. You’re struggling through assignments, pondering the revision you ought to have started, or really any sort of work that a responsible college student would be doing at this time of year. Your phone lights up as a message appears in the group chat: “Pav, anyone?” About time. Like a forgotten deadline, temptation creeps up on you, sudden and distressing.
But you promised yourself you’d get that assignment done today, not leave it until the last minute as per usual, and so you’re stuck in the tragic glass box that is the Ussher library, surrounded by fellow disgruntled students staring wistfully out at the cricket pitch. The distracting beams of rare Irish sunlight are hitting the centre of pilgrimage that is the Pav, with its crowds of carefree students lazing about on the grass, sipping cans of Druids and Pražský as if they haven’t a care in the world. You stare, wondering how much you’re missing out on. But no, you can’t leave. You’re a “serious” student today, and you’re going to do genuinely productive work for once.
“Slowly but surely, you place your laptop, notepad and other scholarly items into a neat little pile on your desk, ready for your definite return”
And yet, as you try in vain to resist the endless Snapchat stories of your friends lying on the green grass, the idea of taking a quick study break to go for “just one” becomes more and more appealing. “It won’t do any harm,” you tell yourself, all the while knowing this is a blatant lie and that if you leave the library now, at this particularly precarious time of day when the afternoon can slip subtly into the evening, you probably won’t go back at all. Deep down inside, you know that it’s a slippery slope. You’ve slipped down it many a time before. Faced with the possibility of failing at least one of your exams, you know you could ruin your summer by having to sit repeats, destroying the potential of substantially more sunny days. Worst of all, you’d have to look your disappointed mammy in the face as you desperately try to explain that the three thousand euro she’s paying in fees each year are in fact worth something.
Surely you’re exaggerating and all will be fine. This is the little mantra you repeat to yourself as, slowly but surely, you place your laptop, notepad and other scholarly items into a neat little pile on your desk, ready for your definite return in approximately thirty minutes. As you stride across the walkway to the exit, you feel as if the other, more dedicated students are judging your every step: they know where you’re going, and they know you aren’t coming back.
Strolling down to the Pav with a spring in your step, you bump into a few friends along the way, also taking a break to enjoy the sunshine and get some much-needed vitamin D. You’re now falsely assured that this is a great idea – you can even spot some others from your course, reinforcing your belief that this is absolutely acceptable. You nestle into the grass with a four-pack of Druids – much better value than buying just one – as you promise yourself that you will return to Ussher 2 with three cans left.
“You feel as if the other, more dedicated students are judging your every step: they know where you’re going, and they know you aren’t coming back”
As you finish your first can, the sun is high in the sky and everyone you could possibly ever know is in close proximity. You begin to tell yourself you were just being overly responsible and quite frankly a little boring in your original decision to take but a short break. What harm could another can do? And suddenly, there you are, a helpless victim of your own persuasiveness. It was inevitable, really. You happily glug your way through the remainder of your “lovely” cans, and proceed to buy some pints of blackcurrant which you supplement with a naggin you casually bought in the shop after little persuasion. Left with few other options, you eventually head back towards your pile of books in the Ussher, wondering if the other students can tell that you’re a lot less sober than when you left.
It seems to me that there’s something about the Pav on a sunny day that injects a shot of free spirit into everyone at College, even those under the pressure of fast-approaching exams. We forget why we’re at College in the first place, or perhaps change our outlook for a few hours, discarding any notions we had of getting that assignment done or starting our exam revision and opting instead to make the most of the happy little yellow building as it glistens in the ray of sunlight shining down from the heavens. Assignments? There’s no vitamins to be gained from those.
The more studious and dedicated among us may feel that wasting hours sitting on the grass is one of the most foolproof ways to guarantee that you fail your degree. However, I can’t think of a better way to enjoy my time, at least now and then. Sitting at the Pav is the epitome of what an idyllic student life ought to consist of. It’s okay to be a little less strict with your priorities once in a while, to revel in the short amount of time when you can spend hours with friends without worrying about getting up for work as an actual adult at 7am. Exams can wait. At least for now.