Annoying Fashion Vagaries

Typical student going-to-lecture outfit choice: Shirt, leggings, boots that look like Uggs, full face make-up and overly ‘done’ hair.

Seriously, I do not understand this.

Firstly, leggings are not trousers, they are underwear. So if you’re wearing a shirt that does not cover your bum, you should wear a skirt too. If your bum isn’t the shapeliest, this skirt really should be made from something other than cotton jersey, and no, if you’re wearing leggings that are denim effect, floral, or indeed in any other way not black, this doesn’t excuse them from the leggings-are-definitely-underwear argument posited above. This is not because I am a prude but because nobody – least of all yourself, surely – really wants your cellulite and wobbly arse on public display.

Secondly, shirt and leggings is an outfit choice for the hungover and ill, those of us who have no intention of leaving the house today. So to combine this with putting your hair up in that artfully messy takes-hours-with-wax-and-irons way, and full face make-up, is contradictory to say the least. Because you’re clearly not that hungover if you managed to get up early enough to do that to your head. If you looked as hungover as your terrible clothing choices would suggest, I might forgive you. I might personally be wearing a sloppy dress with my leggings, but otherwise I’m sure I’ve done similar myself.

Thirdly, I’ve spotted a worse clothing choice: those skirts mentioned above, the black jersey ones, possibly with a slight crinkle to the weave, are actually designed to be worn with leggings, and as skirts. But a number of times I’ve spotted girls getting this totally wrong, and wearing them with normal tights, with the bottom of the skirt not actually low enough to entirely cover the buttocks. I do not want to be seeing arse-cleavage, thanks, and certainly not from the bottom up rather than top down, if you see what I mean. That’s just too unpleasant for words. And maybe it works on drunk men (hooray for easy access, hey?) but during the day time, when most of us are perfectly sober and trying to get to the library without incident, it’s just so unpleasant words cannot describe it.

I am really, really not some kind of prude. I am no-one’s granny. I really have no issue with the idea of clothing being revealing and sexy and all the rest. My problem is that this is not attractive, not to any thinking human being, no matter how good-looking you are as a person. It’s unappealing and undignified and unflattering to dress like that when you could be dressing not as if you were hungover, but as if you were an intelligent, attractive, confident and grown-up young woman, which, for goodness’ sake, you almost certainly are. Just put some fucking trousers on. Find some boots that fit properly. And feel like a lady.

Oh, never mind.



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43 responses to “Annoying Fashion Vagaries

  1. I know what you mean.
    We should learn from the mistakes of the past.
    Specifically the mistakes of the eighties.

    From my perspective – the polite but helplessly lecherous male perspective – I don’t want to see that.
    Or, rather, I do want to see that… but I want to want to see that, if you know what I mean? urgh.

    But you’re exactly right. They are not trousers, they are part of a whole, a whole that has mostly been corrected since it’s day-glo eighties birth. But as just as the fashions get regurgitated, so do the grimace-inducing disasters.

    Worse still, while people today still fear the horror-film abominations that could be birthed when humans are cloned, who in the eighties could have predicted that in the future, when fashions would be cloned, the results would be worse?
    But who could have possibly predicted something as truly horrific as Jeggings?

  2. Jenny

    Leggings in and of themselves, as a concept, are fine (jeggings most certainly are not). We just do not need arse.

    Eighties fashion is also basically fine – I like fashion, I find it interesting, I like how old ideas get reused and reinterpreted, but I don’t think ‘flashing your ***’ really counts as reinterpretation, to be very, very plain.

    I don’t like being anatomically crude on my blog, it would seem.

  3. I understand this look entirely. It says:
    * My party was wilder than yours last night.
    * I am ready for sex any time.
    * Only cool kids wear leggings. I’m one of them.
    * OMGZ I’m such a student check out my facebook for the really crazy time I’m having.
    * Did I mention I’m ready for sex?
    * I can take my leggings off and be ready for a night out.
    * I’m so indie, nobody’s thought of this outfit before.
    * I have the same outfit as all the cool kids.
    * I didn’t do anything to my hair. I just sleep in a tub of wax, stick my fingers in a spare plug socket in the morning and hey presto!
    * I was more drunk last night than you.
    * I had more sex last night than you did.
    * I remember less of last night than you did.
    * The club I went to last night was so underground you’ve never heard of it.
    * Ditto for my music taste. *Katy Perry blares out of iPod*.
    * I am a superior social being to you.
    * Did I mention I’m having such a good time?
    * I’m in more societies than you are.
    * My life is so amazing.

    In short, young lady, you are not conforming to the social norms of your peers. How very dare you?


    Stupid-o-clock soc.

  4. Adam

    The phrase “arse-cleavage” made me smile…

  5. @Antony – misanthropy much?

    @Jenny – I sort of appreciate your dedication to being annoyed by this. I seem to remember a similar dedication several months ago?

    I hung around with a girl quite recently who had to point out and gaqp every exposed arse on display. It seemed rather unfair since I, perhaps against all common sense, was just not looking that hard at the lower rear quadrant of utter strangers.

  6. I, erm, bought a pair of jeggings. In my defence, though, I have only ever worn them twice, with tops that cover my bum, and I’m still not convinced by them because of the builder’s bum effect when I sit down/ bend over. The fact that this is covered by my top doesn’t make it any more comfortable. I do like their (standing) silohouette, however, and the fact that they weigh so much less than actual jeans.

    I completely agree with the rest of this entry though. One of my school teachers had a saying (on the subject of uniform, actually, but it could apply anywhere) that it’s not what you wear, it’s how you wear it. And I think that anyone who has been anywhere near a university campus in the past couple of years will know exactly the sort of attitude that the above outfit is worn with.

    That was one of the unexpected bonuses of doing my degree, actually. That despite Durham being chock full of rahs in the above outfits, very few of them were mathematicians. Very, very few.

  7. teacherface

    I was walking around the city today and the amount of legging-ed arses on show was abominable. In fact, my friend commented on it. We also wondered about the state of girls’ shoes, and whether or not British women are really that au fai with a good shoe.

    One pet hate: fake Ugg boots. The ones that people can never walk in properly and because they are cheap, end up wearing down one side of the boot and eventually the whole thing looks even more ridiculous than it initially did.

  8. Jenny

    I like the weight and solidity of actual jeans, myself. However you’re OK if you pass the covering-your-bum rule, which I’m sure you do :). So I’ll let you off :P. I bet you look a lot better in them than almost everyone else on the planet, anyway, thanks to your long legs.

    Meanwhile, TF, *yes*. I think most British women wouldn’t know how to identify a good shoe or reel off what specifications it ought to have if said good shoe were to bite them on the nose. What really annoys me about bad shoes is that they make you walk terribly. The moment you put on a shoe that is comfortable and fits well, you walk so much more elegantly. Why do people not understand this?

    And, yes, fake Uggs. That whole side-wearing slop-slop-slopping along thing makes them so much worse than real Uggs, and those are bad enough.

  9. @Dom I don’t necessarily hate the human species and human habits – that’s a bit of a strong word. Also, it isn’t all of humanity’s habits I hate. I just dislike “drink culture” in general and the idea that somehow the “walk of shame” is actually a way to score cool points. Sure, I understand having a good time and alcohol has made some of my evenings entertaining even if I’m not drinking it, but excess is horrible for all involved and I don’t believe sex is ever no strings attached.

    @teacherface It’s au fait, from the french, although phonetically your spelling is correct because the t isn’t pronounced. Literal translation: to the fact, more appropriate translation: knowledgeable, familiar with. Sorry, I’m incredibly pedantic!

    @Lucy we did have a few in our year. One girl spent her life on her blackberry on facebook in CLC013. I’d put money on it she failed probability. Anthropology was their favourite haunt, followed seemingly by English or Geography. Also, half my lecturers here know who Jens Funke is, how amazing is that?

  10. Your lecturers? Where, doing what? Or would you rather not say over internetland?

    Jens is pretty amazing himself, in all honesty, although the fact that I might have been in with a realistic chance of a first if he hadn’t made the Rep Theory course such a complete and utter bitch for the fun of it means that I warm to him rather less than I might do so otherwise.

    Oh, and I don’t count first year and second years doing Core modules, ‘cos they’re blatently NatScis anyway 😛

  11. Jenny

    I’ve certainly had sex with no strings attached. I’m not proud of having done that, though, but I wouldn’t say I’ve regretted it. But yes, I do think it’s possible. Equally there have been misunderstandings and different understandings of exactly what strings are or are not attached.

    I do agree with you on the drinking culture thing – drinking can be fun for all involved but a huge proportion of people these days do go out to get absolutely bladdered and forget most of their night out, and I really really don’t understand that.

    Lucy, he’s with me, doing your subject.

    I’m sorry if that brings you extra stalkers, Antony :P.

    Right. Must go and do something productive.

  12. teacherface

    @Anthony – not at all. I welcome being properly educated. I took Spanish at secondary school. That’s my excuse and I’m sticking to it!

  13. @Jenny see I don’t think you did. You might not have understood what the strings were but they were there because it does change friendships and your self-perception. It changes how people think of you, how group dynamics work etc. The least impact situation is where you hook up with a stranger and even then you alter yourself by doing so.

    In fairness, I probably shouldn’t talk about such things – I have no idea what I’m on about having never been cool enough to do such things. I don’t drink as you’ve probably gathered and I don’t think I’ve ever been friends enough with any girls for such things. Let’s not forget I’d miss a nuclear-bomb-sized hint…

    Dw regarding added stalkers. Hi guys. I’m not very interesting.

    @Lucy yes, I am busy failing another Maths degree. :p Sleep pattern is shot to bits at the moment.

    As for Dr Funke, I think he’s an entertaining lecturer, but I also can’t read his handwriting and his notes could do with some restructuring in my opinion. For example, I don’t like the mixing up of number theory and group theory because I spent a while unpicking exactly what he meant. Sure, they are all intertwined but I’d teach it differently. Indeed, I’ve got a book en route that treats rings first, before groups.

    He did lend me some books which were very good though, and he did do an extra lecture off-topic at my request which was possibly the best lecture I’ve ever been to.

    I’m not very good at doing what I’m supposed to at any given time, I’ve concluded. I much prefer to be doing interesting stuff. Currently looking for textbooks on stochastic processes.

  14. Flix

    Much of the time, 20 year old girls don’t actually want to be ladies. They want the 20 year old boys to want to sex them and they want to fit in with the cool crowd. And if you have a pert bottom snugly covered with a tight fabric, you achieve both aims, quite easily. You may not be half as attractive as you would be if you covered up or had some self-respect, but then again, you might not get half as much sex.

    Oh, decisions, decisions.

    I’m being rather flippant, judgemental and inaccurate, but I’m on the internet, so it’s totally okay.

    @Lucy: the maths girls at my uni were some of the worst culprits. I wonder what that says.

  15. Jenny

    Yes, but most of these twenty-year-old bottoms aren’t particularly pert! At least, not pert enough to be seen by the general public in nothing but stretchy fake denim or jersey!

    I’m not saying they don’t all look very attractive and lovely and all the rest of it, but I think you probably have to have an almost unattainably good body in order to get away with it, and most people doing this don’t.

    Oh well, I dress like a lady and will probably die being eaten by my own cats, so.

  16. Are you saying that the cat-eating will be the cause of your death? Cos those would be impressive cats.

    I really hope you own lions in the future Jenny. I can’t imagine anything that would make you cooler in my eyes.

    I think there’s a limit to the average ‘sagginess’ of the twenty year old derrière. That said, as I’ve mentioned before, I don’t look very hard at people’s arses. I confess I’m a little surprised that other people do.

  17. Adam

    “I dress like a lady and will probably die being eaten by my own cats, so.”

    This made me laugh. I’m a bad person.

  18. teacherface

    That makes two of us.

  19. @Flix are you suggesting 20-year-old-boys are all shallow sex-crazed monkeys? 😛

    Although having said that, I do tend to judge “lads” you use yoof-spek with that brush. I was walking through the park today and two guys were headed in the opposite direction. If I was them, I’d relate that as: I was walking through *this* park today, yeah, and there was, *like*, this guy walking in the opposite direction. Anyway, what they said was: yeah, this mate of mine has, *like*, *this* massive front room. Yeah, it’s *like* _so_ cool.

    It’s like their brains read something in aLt CaPs and thought: so *that* is how I’m supposed to emphasize my sentences! Plus, they read about similes at school, and now they’re at uuuuknee and all that they should be educated, like like like this.

    My other pet hate is *yeah, I’ve got a lectcha* said in a tone of total seriousness. Especially by an arts student.

    I wonder if there is a correlation between the number of one night stands and speech pattern?

  20. Also, totally hijacking this thread now, has anybody noticed at university, whenever anyone describes themselves (mentor pictures being the target of this rant), they’re always like really way-more-cool-sounding than possible?

    For example: Hi, I’m fred, I study English with Comparative Law. In my spare time, I like to waterboard, do karate, do voluntary work helping loads of charities, I half-run the union, I am also superman. I have published papers in the journal of gas chromatography mass spec, in spite of the fact it has nothing to do with my degree. In order words, I’m a social god, perfect and assiduous student and bleeding heart liberal out to save the world.

  21. Jenny

    I’m not sure that’s entirely fair. If you list anyone in terms of the things they do and the interests they have they probably sound a bit like that. Hi, I’m Jenny, I study Biomedical Sciences. In my spare time I like reading, walking, films, music and cooking. I am in the Symphony Orchestra on the cello, and I sing in the Chamber Choir and Vocal Consort. I have recently had to stop volunteering at Oxfam to give me more time to spend volunteering at various church functions and [fully intend to find the time to] help out at a soup kitchen for the homeless.

    As for your comment about one night stands and speech pattern, that really isn’t fair. You’re practically saying that the ‘working classes’ just don’t have the same moral spectrum as ‘us’. (Please, everyone, note the dripping sarcasm with which I use the phrases ‘working classes’ and ‘us’). And what is so wrong about the phrase ‘Yeah, I’ve got a lecture’, said in an Estuary accent? What is so inaccurate about that that they are somehow unqualified to say this ‘in all seriousness’?

    I mean, I essentially agree with you about certain drunken student cliches. Girls who go out not wearing enough, and guys with their horrendously gelled hair and almost uniform tight checked shirts.

    It isn’t as if I agree with one night stands as an idea or a habit, but equally I don’t like the extent to which you judge people like this. It honestly sounds as if you wander around campus thinking of all the ways you can possibly take against almost everyone you encounter.

    And what the hell is wrong with arts students?

  22. Right – arts students. Absolutely nothing. It’s more the implied tone of “excuse me I’m busy” that I dislike; its a running joke between my flatmates and next door that our resident English student “doesn’t do any work” even though she has so much reading to do its unbelievable. So it isn’t an attack on arts students but on the seriousness with which some people take themselves.

    Next, estuary accents. Nothing wrong with them and I don’t believe what I’m describing is typical of either the working class or of such an accent. One can have such an accent and not employ the words “like” and “this” quite effectively. Moreover the working class do not exclusively excessively apply “like” and “this”; however, said students did. In this case, said students were also wearing expensive enough clothes to probably not even know what working class living is like. It is a symptom of the youth, particularly young male and probably “upper” classes, that drives this form of speech and it is their attitude that I disagree with. They’re *imitating* an accent form and noticeably exaggerating their speech as a subtle way of being cool and in the crowd.

    By contrast, the guy upstairs (J) uses “like” because he comes from Reading; but his accent is natural. I used to live in that region so I can tell it a mile off.

    Now, self-descriptors. I suppose you’re right, we might all sound impressive if listed so. It is just the mechanical listing of various facets of myself that tell you absolutely nothing about the person whatsoever. You don’t convey the full information. From “I go surfing” you might imply “said person is an expert surfer” or “said person has surfed once or twice”. You don’t *know* and it communicates nothing about the person, which would bring me nicely onto whether it is worthwhile striving for an Upper Ontology, if one exists at all, and whether representation through such computational means (facebook, for example, or posters) devalues our worth has human beings.

    As for walking around campus, it really depends on what mood I’m in. I often look at how people behave and what patterns I can see. There’s surprising variety, but if you walk around thinking all these people are people with histories and stories to tell you quickly end up with a boggled mind. Yep, in some cases I judge those people and perhaps unfairly, but who doesn’t? It is in the nature of human beings to be imperfect and I am no exception.

    In this particular case, I recounted some of my more cynical thoughts purely as I’ve already been called a misanthropist on here already.

  23. But I was being possibly-over-the-line idiotic, so I’m sorry.

  24. Adam

    “I don’t judge, and hate people who judge me. I’m a slightly crazy. I don’t drink. I abhor people who shorten my name. I don’t smoke. I’m not promiscuous. I ride a motorbike. I’m witty, but also self-depricating. I play the guitar, bass guitar and sing – I also attempt drums and the piano. I have a vocabulary. I’m a spelling and grammar nazi.”

    That’s my self-descriptor on facebook… To be honest, I think it’s a pretty accurate description of me. Admittedly, it’s written in what I hope is an engaging way – but doesn’t really cover me… It’s basically a list of fairly obvious statements about me, without trying to sound big-headed and pompous… But, you can’t really get the measure of a person in a few brief sentences – it says nothing of my dark sense of humour, or that i’m a night-person, or my favourite colour or least favourite food…

    As for art students – they’re very nice people (I’d know – I’m one of them…)

  25. @antony I might have agreed with you, not so long ago, but I’m not sure you’re really seeing this from the right angle.

    Firstly, I should do my little introduction. I’m a student of Software Engineering. I play folk guitar. I prefer reading to watching television, and I’d rather hear Seth Lakeman than Pixi Lott. My idea of a perfect night out involves the Devonshire Cat, other computer scientists and pseudo-intellectual drunken navel-gazing. Here’s the most important point. I’m shy. Hellishly so.

    Do you know how much of a burden it is to be slightly afraid of everyone you meet? How demoralising it becomes when you realise that yes, this is the longest you’ve been single in your adult life and yes, it’s entirely because if you met the right girl you’d never fucking talk to her?

    Can you imagine how tempting it is to give up that vague snobbery about heavy drinking, bad parties and worse shirts and just, to apply a massive cliché, ‘go for it’? To do something confident and outgoing and yet sufficiently the same as everyone else as to require no actual confidence whatsoever? In short, it’s tempting to become a bit of a lad.

    Let me recount my adventures with ‘drink culture’. One night stands: 0. Drunken incidents involving getting kicked out of nightclubs, fighting with strangers or pissing on statues: 0. Genuinely interesting, attractive people met that I’ve stayed friends with if not really dated enthusiastically: well, that would be telling.

    I’m not saying you’re completely wrong, I just think you should stop before you judge people for being populous and shallow and question their actual reasons. Ask yourself ‘might they not just be happy like that?’ – after all, they’re doing little to hurt you in any way…

    I can’t say much in defence of the hangovers, though.

  26. Flix

    I frequently punctuate my speech with terms such as like and innit, despite being brought up well proper, yo. I also wear clothes that sometimes aren’t quite appropriate for an intelligent demure female, either because they’re comfortable or they look good and I’m young enough to get away with it.

    they’re always like really way-more-cool-sounding than possible?

    yes, but that’s true of most people about most things. Hyperbole is a natural part of conversation, because stories would be boring if we merely stated exact facts. I could make myself sound incredible interesting or dreadfully dull, depending on the manner of expression.

    I have to say, I can see what you mean about the lecture and the seriousness, that did make me laugh. Like staying up ’til 4am and getting up at 7am with OMGSOMUCHTODO! When it’s like, yeah, that’s cos you were out every night last week and spent every day in bed or watching Cash in the Attic whilst I was at labs/lectures/library 9 – 5 and asleep by 11pm, so don’t even try and garner sympathy from me about all this stuff you have to do. Oh, the student life.

    I find myself curiously agreeing with many of you, despite the fact that you seem to be in disagreement with each other. I have little issue with the girls as mentioned in the original blog because, as Dominic said, they might just be happy like that.

    Mostly, it all just makes me laugh.

  27. teacherface

    I feel so far away from this world now. *sob*

  28. @Dom yep, I do understand how that feels – I’ve been single for, what, 3+ years now? I’m also a long term anxiety sufferer (previously panic disorder, now just “mixed anxiety/depression syndrome”); the repercussions of which mean I honestly can’t say I’ll make it to the end of the university year. I might, or I might not.

    In short, there’s quite a lot I’m not able to do that others can and many decisions I have to postpone until I know the state of play. Like where to live next year – probably something I won’t commit to for a while.

    I can see the temptation to “let go” and become a bit of a lad easily. If I go out, I might not wear a checked shirt but it’d probably be a shirt of some sort and I’ve even tried ye olde hair gel, although that turned out to be a bit of a disaster.

    Let’s be clear here, I don’t object to people having a good time, or even drinking. Some attitudes I find a bit difficult sometimes. I think there’s two forms of drink culture; going out drinking for the socialness of it and going out to get utterly drunk. The second I find difficult to comprehend and it is often the same people who do such who have a habit of being all lad and cool with their expression during the day.

    What bothers me isn’t the drinking or them being happy like that. I’m sure they probably are and good for them. Sometimes when I’m feeling particularly jaded (slashdotish) I can’t help but think they’re incredibly lucky, though, and they just don’t realise it. How many people get to spend the years 18-22 partying and having the time of their life? Even if we restrict that to the UK, it’s fewer than you might think. Fewer, probably, than wear tight fabric over pert behinds; some of them will be genuine party animals, but some will just be trying to fit in and be OK with themselves in this environment of people being so much cooler than they are.

    And before you ask; it isn’t just me I think they should be aware of (ever stood in the dole queue? I have) and it isn’t that I think they should be unhappy. Not at all. I just think they should grow up a bit. Still, I guess I’m just being overly harsh. People will be people.

    @Flix I have little sympathy for anyone who does the OMGFFFF I’ve got so much to do stunt… and true, hyperbole is a large part of life these days. I just wish it wasn’t. Irrational expectations (celeb mags or over exaggerated coolness) aren’t good for society’s mental health.

    @teacherface I wish I was far away from this world now. Gotta do it though, so y’know.

  29. Clare

    Right. Arts Students.

    Admittedly, yes, to be honest whatever university you’re at you get fewer contact hours than scientists. That does not necessarily mean that arts students automatically work less than scientists. Some people might do, yes, but not all. Also, contact hours doesn’t necessarily equate to the amount of work you have to do: for arts students we have to do a lot behind the scenes – unsupervised, unguided reading and essay writing.

    It’s in some ways harder for an arts student because we don’t get told what to do when, lectures aren’t necessarily going to teach us everything we need in the exams – they’ll just be nuggets of tangential interest. We don’t get labs, or sheets of questions or multiple choice exams (although then again that doesn’t mean that multiple choice is easy) – we just have exams of essays. And in a subject where there is no wrong or right answer (within reason – Shakespeare was not a follower of Karl Marx because he was very dead when Marx was writing) actually the whole process can be very difficult indeed – it’s almost impossible to judge your own progress.

    I’m not saying science isn’t hard, darlings. But don’t tell me that studying arts is in any way “easier”. Because if you do it properly, it’s damn well not. And that counts whether you’re at Oxbridge (where they do make you work) or at a university where you’re one in several hundred students and no-one seems to care about whether you’ve done your reading or not. In some ways, I’d say that’s harder.

    So back off.



  30. Jenny

    I dno’t think anyone’s seriously having a go at arts students or seriously suggesting that they have less to do. But if we’re going to get into the arts v sciences debate (must we?) I’d like to clarify a few points.

    On my degree, you *can’t* pass the whole degree on lecture notes alone, even if you have a completely flawless set of notes or memory for what you were taught in lectures. You can scrape a pass in first year, and that’s about it.

    Yes, we have more contact hours as scientists, although in my case at least, not that many more. Lectures are not notes of tangential interest, but they will be most often in the form of spending-an-hour-teaching-us-about-some-especially-complicated-bit-of-theory – not going over the entire syllabus.

    The misapprehension that there is a ‘right’ and ‘wrong’ in science is understandable. For the more basic stuff, sure. But I’d say perhaps as much as fifty per cent of what I’m being ‘taught’ these days is conjecture – we *think* such-and-such a chemical mediator does this, and if that’s the case then this mechanism must come into play, but other academics make the equally valid case for *that* sequence of events instead.

    Labs, again, cannot possibly teach you all that much of the stuff you need to know, because we can’t do anything particularly complicated in a lab that size with that number of people because that would mean playing about with fiddly expensive kit and taking weeks to get a decent result. Attending the labs and doing all the relevant statistical hoo-ha (which isn’t easy) will get you perhaps ten percent of a module, and don’t forget I’m doing twelve modules this year, and that’s not unusual. Which means that attending all my Physiology labs and doing all the work associated with those – reading papers, doing the stats exercises, memorising the associated anatomy – will get me, in the end, 1/120th of the year’s grade – or 1/240th of my degree.

    Finally my most important point: read Flix’s comment again – ‘I was at labs/lectures/library 9-5 and asleep by 11pm’. Yeah. Library. No-one tells you what to read, or in how much depth (most of the textbooks out there are not catering for second year BMS students so you do have to be able to do different levels of skim reading, as it were, depending on how far over your head you think this or that thing is). In the first year we’re told roughly what we should have covered in the library for each lecture of each module, but I think you’ll find that most scientists in the second year and beyond are expected to find all their own reading (which includes not only the massive textbooks of which I am so wont to complain, but also the thousands of research papers out there – honestly, where do you start?) and then do it. This will be every bit as challenging as it is to be an arts student in the library, and furthermore, because we are being tested for factual knowledge in our essays and MCQs, it’s far easier to get it *wrong*. Often simply because the lecturer who set the exam is looking for Smith’s theory on Such-And-Such Cells, and not Jones’s, but you just happen to have been reading Jones’s paper most recently.

    I would also like to make it known that probably half my exams this year will be essay-based, and that I find essays easier to do well in than MCQs because multiple choice questions are really not a cop-out. We scientists are expected to do as much unsupported, independent reading as arts students, adn we are not told what to read to any extent. Frankly A gets more advice about what he should be reading than I do.

    My theory on Arts v Sciences is not that either one is more difficult, it’s that in the Arts it’s harder to actually fail overall (simply because if you’re actually awake in lectures and have done the bare minimum of reading you can bullshit your way through in a way you can’t in an anatomy spotter or MCQ exam) but that it is also perhaps difficult to do really astonishingly well (you can get a hundred per cent in an MCQ or spotter but you can’t in an essay).

    So we’ll have none of this (heavily implicated) ‘arts degrees are really hard because you scientists get your hands held’ nonsense. We don’t. OK? We’re at university. We’re grown-ups. We do this for ourselves, by ourselves.

  31. teacherface

    I may be taking a very simplisit route here but, does it matter? As long as you do well in whatever subject[s] you’re taking, who cares what anyone else thinks?

  32. Well after those two cases in favour of arts and science, perhaps we can now all safely conclude that it is in fact engineering degrees that are most difficult. Because they comprise lots of the science stuff that Jenny talked about, but also lots of design. For that, you’re given some specifications and told to solve whatever the problem is. As with the arts there’s no right answer (there are wrong ones, obviously; if the thing you design doesn’t work!), which makes it all very tricky.

  33. At this point I regret bringing up the arts vs sciences debate. It’s an age old war nobody’ll ever win simply because the degree formats are different. I’d fail an arts degree, no problem, because I’m just not suited to that way of working. I detest writing essays. So I personally would find an arts degree immeasurably more difficult than my current degree.

    Just like my remarks regarding “ladz” etc, it was a comment put out there in full understanding of my own personal failings.

    I have a personal philosophy that most things we “hate” are reflections of our own discontent with some aspect of ourselves and I’ve rightly been pulled up I think here for disliking exactly what I can’t do and exactly who I am not. It’s that age old thing people say: people in glass houses shouldn’t throw stones. Well I’d say people in glass houses are most likely to want to throw stones because glass houses are hot, stuffy and uncomfortable (unless you’re a plant).

    Anyway, I don’t think there was any deep philosophical reasoning behind suggesting arts students just get to generally be lazy, erm, I mean, have a different degree format. That one was purely a joke, okies?

  34. Clare

    yeah, but it’s a joke I’m fed up of.

    Jen, I wasn’t trying to say ‘arts are better than sciences’ even if that’s what came across: I was just trying to say leave the arts students alone. Like when people mis-spell my name, I get fed up of the assumption that I’m a lazy bum who never does anything.

    And you mean ‘implied’, not ‘implicated’… 🙂


  35. Jenny

    Yeah, I had a total mental over ‘implicated’ there – I completely blanket the word ‘implied’ and couldn’t remember it so decided to just cut my losses and move on, leaving a word which I knew wasn’t right but which would get my meaning across anyway…!

    I’m sorry I waded into this debate – I can’t stand the typical arts student response to those kinds of jokes (when not taken in good part) which is to imply heavily that sciences are easier because it’s ‘just memorising stuff’ and, what with labs and problem sheets (not that I get any of the latter), we’re simply spoon-fed.

    All of those ideas are based on utter misapprehension of what is involved in my degree or any other science degree. As for engineering, that involves a different skill-set again. I don’t think it’s any harder than my degree and I hope you’re not looking for a fight on the subject, Dickie, because I’m simply too tired.

    I think that covers all the things I wanted to say on the subject. If not, I’m off to bed anyway.

  36. hah no, my comment was completely tongue-in-cheek, sorry if that wasn’t clear. The arts versus science “debate” is pretty pointless as anything more than banter, imo. Degrees are hard, and whilst I’m sure there are easier ones (Cheryl Cole studies at the University of Bognor Regis, that sort of thing), serious degrees at serious universities will always be challenging whether they’re on English or Engineering or Biology. It seems that it’s all too easy for people to get snobbish about whatever it is they study, which is understandable I suppose.

  37. Jenny

    Sorry, I’m just very bad-tempered at the moment. Stomping about like a best with a sore head!

  38. teacherface

    For once, my comment actually applies. Winner 😉

  39. Clare

    like a best? what’s one of those, love?

    Also, hugs.


  40. Jenny

    a bear, silly 😛

    Silly me, mainly.

    Right, I’m off out (I’m all dressed up. I feel pretty, oh so pretty… :D)!


  41. Flix

    My rants are largely against specific people rather than specific studies. I love that people tend to see science as more well respected, because, yes, I worked hard for parts and yes, it’s a difficult degree, but it was ‘easier’ in the sense that it was less self-directed, much of the time it involved turning up when appropriate (i.e. all day, every day) and doing the work I was told to do, following instructions, working out answers. Of course, if I had done the 25+ hours of extra reading on top of the lectures that I was supposed to do, I might have done better. If I’d concentrated more on filtration than flirtation, I might have done better. But the latter was so much more fun and in the end, I got what I needed so the old adage goes “it’s not what you know, it’s who you blow…”

    You know, I kind of miss that chauvinistic environment, in a weird way.


  42. Jenny

    See, mine is very self-directed, and I wonder if in that sense I get the ‘worst’ of both worlds.

    I used to be such a flirt. I don’t know what happened, but I do rather miss it.


  43. Matt

    The whole arts vs science debate is a ridiculous one, as you’ve basically covered. There are no easy degrees. Yes, if you are great at writing essays an english degree might be easier for you than some people, but does that make it any easier in the scale of things? No.

    I get really frustrated with the whole thing really. When I went to university it was always very much impressed onto me that because I only had a few lectures I was inferior (in those words – I kid you not!) However, if you do the maths…

    I had 7 hours of lectures and adding my library time (I worked at least 12 hours a day, including weekends) I ended up working 84 hours a week. The scientists who gave me the problems had 7 hours of lectures most days, but then came home and did no work after that, possibly a few hours to rush of their homework so they wouldn’t fail. Total hours – 50 if I’m being generous.

    I’m not saying that this is typical or that this is what the scientists in this post do. All I’m saying is that it is the person rather than the degree they do, and it is illogical to judge otherwise. Also that really the whole debate is rather tired and old, and really, surely we have work to be doing rather than worrying about this?

    Also leggings are NEVER a good look. Regardless of whether you are tall, thin, small, medium, they make you look fat.

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