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How to survive... the University Library etiquette?

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The road to success is one that takes a lot of trial and error. The same applies to student life. As a veteran, fifth-year student Nina explains how not to go about things. Today: how to survive the University Library etiquette? ‘Just hold your tea party in the canteen, and not right across from me, while I’m guiltily procrastinating from my studies and checking my web-WhatsApp.’

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A day in the University Library isn’t for the weak. The adventure starts the night before. If you don’t set your alarm, thus trying to find a spot somewhere around noon, might as well stay home. Especially in exam weeks, when there’ll be a line before the library even opens. That’s far from normal, of course, but it’s what we’ve got to work with. It’s said that there are people who find study spots in the library after 11 am, but I’ve never met them. So: make sure you’re at the library before the crack of dawn, and then spend all day adhering to all the other (un)written rules.

Non-verbal discipline
The greatest irritation of any Library-user, is noise. Everyone in the library suffers, to some extent, from misophonia (a hatred of sounds that interfere with one’s functioning). But in one of my first Library sessions, I’d brought carrots, and boy, did I learn. In deathly silence, you really become extremely aware of the sound made by 300 grams of freshly scraped carrots from the Plus supermarket. And the rest of the room did, too, along with me. I’d never received so many lethal looks before.

Non-verbal discipline is something I find myself guilty of as well when I’m in the University Library. There are few things as irritating as a group of whispering students. Hold your tea parties in the canteen, and not across from me, while I’m guiltily procrastinating from my studies and checking my web-WhatsApp.

Use your study spot
One thing that’s generally not appreciated, is keeping a study spot occupied with something other than your studying self. Still, it’s a common practice. You’d be surprised at how many people race into the library in the early mornings, dump their books on the most amazing study spot, and then go and have a lengthy brunch with their friends at some hip location. Now, I understand you can’t study on an empty stomach. And it’s also super sweet if you, as an early bird, occupy a few study spots for your friends who have a harder time getting out of bed. But it’s kind of annoying if that means others won’t be able to find a spot in the library.

That doesn’t mean you’re not allowed to take a break here and there during your study time. Breaks for coffee, snacks, and peeing are of course of vital importance during your mental gymnastics in the library. But the university has a rule: you can leave your study spot for a maximum of 30 minutes. After that half hour, someone else is allowed to take your space. How that would work – I don’t really know. I’ve never seen anyone stand next to a pile of books holding a stopwatch.

Make sure you make friends, and keep them
You might wonder why you should follow this etiquette, then. After all, you can get away with ignoring it. The answer is relatively simple: the University Library population is pretty small. Although it’s said the UU has 30,000 students, you’ll notice you’ll see many familiar faces in the library. These are the real warriors, writing their theses, or maybe just the ones with unheard-of work ethics. Try to befriend them. Perhaps eventually, you’ll foster a bond with them, and you’ll be able to jointly hate on your shared enemy: high school students who come to the library (outside of exam weeks) to study for their final high school exams.

Are you wondering about how to survive an aspect of Utrecht student life? Parties, bus 12, student jargon, or do you just want a suggestion for your Tinder bio? App your question/remark/flirt to Nina at +31618975307. You’re guaranteed advice in response. Whether it’ll be useful, cannot be said right now.

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