Ode to Third Year

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Or, twenty three ways to manage that pesky dissertation when you have: zero motivation; an advisor who doesn’t appreciate your badass, not to mention entirely original ideas, a girlfriend who’s just dropped you, housemates with a clinical aversion to washing up, an inability to remember the last time you ate anything other than beans on toast, no prospects for the immediate future, and Derek Douchebag from the Student Loans Company knocking at your chamber door.

By Sadna Choudhury

Dissertation looming? I hear ya.

When you’re in your final term at university – unless you’re the lucky duck who got to swap hell in a hand-basket for an alternate module, you have a dissertation to write. And (like me) it’s due. Very, very soon. It’s probably the longest piece of academic work you’ve attempted so far. And it’s supposed to be an accumulation of all the clever stuff you’ve learned at university. You may have made tentative, precursory plans to start it, despite a 3am crying jag, unmissable episodes of Breaking Bad at 5.15am (because really, who stops at one?) and a mad dash to the next stop when the number 42 bus screeches past at 9.48am, that is.

Those four syllables are enough to send anyone off the deep end. But fear not friends – you’re not alone. I have asked my nearest and dearest (OK, the internet) for assistance and compiled 23 fool-proof ways for you to regain control of your life*.

Mouse eating cheese

Mice know how to feed their brains… Do you?

1. Eat more cheese. Cheese is a proven brain food. Mice swear by it. And you don’t see mice crying into their pillows. Cheddar, Brie and Emmental are all good. Stay clear from the Gouda. It’ll do nothing for you.

2. Howl at the moon. Don’t question it. Just do it. Scientists and other proven nerds howl at the moon regularly; it’s something to do with channelling the vast incomprehensibilities of the universe. It can’t hurt, surely. Howl through the night and resolutely ignore any noise complaints.

3. Walk backwards. Everywhere. Until the due date. Use a hand held mirror when crossing traffic, or be a dare devil (and the envy of all your friends) and just wing it.

4. Bring your computer daily offerings of small rodents. You may use small children if there are no rodents available. Burly toddlers may invoke your computer’s wrath, so weigh the kid first. Are they weedy for their age? Perfect. Build a sacrificial altar of incense, candles, sprinklings of Lapsang Souchong and ostrich feathers. Make it pretty. Then shed their blood.

5. Curb your appetite. Remember, cheese.

6. Sleep with your eyes open.

7. Don’t sleep at all, if possible. Sleep deprivation is a proven method for maximum information retention. Genius can strike at any time so train yourself to stay awake. This applies to exam technique as well. Plus going to bed early is for squares.

8. Learn Enochian. If you write your dissertation in celestial speech, you won’t need to spell check. No one will fault your grammar. This will save time for much needed howling. And cheese eating.


Angels: More dramatic than you since
the dawn of time

9. Befriend the homeless. They are wily and street-smart. And you’ll need a support network if you fail your dissertation. Smart people have a plan B. Plan C is for the really desperate. There are hotlines for people with a plan C.

10. Play hopscotch.

11. Adopt a baby seal. They’re endangered. And will protect you to the death. Why not adopt three, form a seal- gang and inspire fear and malevolence wherever you go?

12. Hang from the rafters. Increase blood flow and brain activity. The au-naturale blush is a bonus!

13. Stop going to other lectures. Or if you do, sit there heckling. How is this relevant? You could be sacrificing neo-natal weaklings right now. Make your grievance heard. Be as obnoxious as you can.

14. Massage your temples with cauliflower and rub glitter into your eyelids. Banish feelings of inadequacy. You are awesome!

15. Drink the Kool Aid. Drink bath bombs in salt water. Drink sunlight. Dissertations are thirsty work and dehydration is tacky.

16. Bribe your advisor. If they’re offended or threaten to report you- your bribe’s not big enough. Think big. A date with Felicia Day. A phone call with the Dalai Lama. An actual llama. Maximise your credit potential.

17. Do cartwheels. Everyone needs a hobby. Knitting alligators is fun too whenever you need a breather.

ouija board

Ouija Board

18. Communicate with the dead. Extra-curriculars are vital and spirits are lonely on the other side. Host a séance and entertain with canapés and mermaid scat singing before they try to kill you. Wear taffeta silk and you’ll win them over in a heartbeat.

19. Levitate. Do it now. It works wonders for the soul and is a proven remedy against carbon emissions. Save yourself, save the world.

20. Stop reading books. Orange peel is more informative.

21. Disown your families. Disown your friends, neighbours and enemies. Drop those molecule bags like it’s going out of style. You don’t need that kind of judgement weighing you down. Breathe easy knowing you’ll never get the pushy what-are-you-gonna-do-with-the-rest-of-your-life speech ever again.

22. Spank the monkey. Double tap for a little extra self-confidence if you’ve been dumped recently. Ensure maximum pheromone release to attract the smartest indeterminate being in the vicinity. Then make a race of super lampshade or umbrella babies to guarantee your line survives. Rule with an iron fist. Become invincible.

23. Write your dissertation in one go. Write until your hand falls off. You have a spare one. Don’t you care about your work? Exactly. That’s what I thought.

*disclaimer: Any incomprehensible weight gain/ broken bones/ tooth ache/ failure to impress your adviser and or passing of the year/ desire to yodel in Yiddish are entirely due to your own neuroses. This article promises nothing to the faint of heart. Your browser history proves nought but a) you need to get out more and b) that many cat videos are plain creepy.

Sadna is a wannabe writer and painter, whose lifelong ambition is to grope Misha Collins in the dark.

About the author / 


aAh! Magazine is Manchester Metropolitan University's arts and culture magazine.

1 Comment

  1. JulietteC 7th March 2014 at 3:31 pm -  Reply

    Hilarious – thank god you tagged this ‘Satan’ – it’s the only tag I keep track of!

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