The first installment of Real World Horror Stories involves a place we all go to, or at least tell our parents we go to. It does not matter whether you are a science major, art history major, or aspiring double major in College Dropout and Safeway bagger. It doesn’t matter if you don’t have a plan at all, because in the your words at that holiday party to all of the adults, “[You’ve] got time.” Regardless, you are a student at this enormous university, and thus cannot possibly avoid the UC Davis Lecture Halls.
You probably aren’t trying to avoid them, because it is a nice change from the 30 person classes you took all throughout your life. Going into college, you thought the lecture hall would be a great thing. In Algebra 2, or any other class you took in high school, some things are inevitable; you absolutely cannot hide from a teacher, send love notes, skip class, and in my case in the Pleasanton Unified School District, wear a hat, chew gum, pee when you want, enjoy yourself or do just about anything you’d rather be doing then learning about the Cold War or the periodic table. What you’ve heard about college, or seen in the totally candid and not-at-all fake pictures in the UC Davis catalogue, is that you’ll have a lot more freedom in these four (or five, or six) years at college. Here are some of the details you may not have noticed, and how my trial-and-error (and error, and error) has helped me move past them.
Let’s say you stayed up way too late last night following the plan of my first article, watching all of Breaking Bad or stalking attractive people on Facebook. Now you’re absolutely exhausted, and 9 a.m. lecture the next day is out of the question. That’s perfectly fine in college, not high school, because in a 200-person lecture hall, no one will notice. Now let’s say you choose to attend your 9 a.m. lecture, but just aren’t really in the mood to be there. This is OK because again, no one can see you or what you are doing. Go on Tinder and message all of your matches, it’s a numbers game isn’t it? Stalk more people on Facebook, play Flappy Gunrock (yes this just happened), make elaborate snapchat drawings, read The UCD files and more.
Sometimes, however, you actually have a midterm that you just “studied” for at the CoHo. You have a scantron, test booklet, pencil, eraser, possibly a calculator, or a water bottle with answers that look like nutrition facts on it, and all of these things have to fit on a desk that barely fits your own hand. If you leave the test book on your lap, and the scantron on the desk, you will most likely appear to be cheating, so DO NOT do that. Don’t look anywhere at all, because the TAs may think you’re cheating. I once came to a midterm without a pencil and borrowed one from the girl next to me whom I didn’t know. She finished the test before me because she’s smarter than me. As she left she dropped a note card in my lap that read “Good luck and keep the pencil.” Long story short, I was immediately accused of cheating.
The issues of the Lecture Hall don’t only happen during midterm season. The rooms all look like the architects were planning for a small school and then right before they put the seats in they got a call that it was a big school. Everything is crammed together and the classes always have registration room for 30 more people than the room capacity. Paying that much to sit on the stairs to learn educational stuff should be illegal. And the worst part is, if you’re not on the stairs, getting to your seat isn’t an easy feat either.
In order to get to your seat, you are going to have to cross the legs of all the people sitting between the aisle and your destination. To get there, you have to touch absolutely every pair of legs on the way. Should you face the row you are traversing and risk bumping the next row with your backpack? Or face the other way and hit your neighbors with the backpack, also putting your butt uncomfortably close to your classmates? Now if you are lucky enough to get a seat in the aisle, this appears better, but everyone else will be putting their rear ends in your face. If you get an aisle on the left side, and are a right-handed Tinder-swiper, this is also a dilemma because the desks are left-handed. Don’t waste too much time worrying about the desk though, because even if you are ambidextrous, the desk will not be big enough for you.
Unless you made your own major in the experimental college you are going to have to face these problems. Don’t skip class every day either – my freshman roommate picked Xbox over class every time. Bad news: he dropped out with a 0.0 GPA. Good news: my triple dorm became a double.
You can make it easier on yourself though:
- Go to class earlier than normal and get a good seat.
- Don’t take notes on your laptop because there are too many distractions on-the-line (again, Mr/s. Right’s Facebook will still be there after class).
- Print out the slides so you can pay attention more.
- Make friends in your classes so you can take shifts skipping once in a while, and also have friends.
- Turn on the recording app in your classes that aren’t podcasted (beware of loud coughers/snifflers near you though).
Take this big lecture hall system for what it is, troubles and all, because at the end of the day we are pretty lucky to call this school home.
The UCD Files is your weekly in depth look at our campus and the lifestyle that comes with it, featuring an occasional dropping of knowledge from a senior who has experienced it all.
Feel Free to send questions, comments, hate mail, or anything you would like to see in future articles to Adam Marx at email@example.com, I will be responding to them instead of paying attention to lectures.
Graphic by CA Aggie Graphic Design Team