Despite the fact that the entire city has been covered in decorations and Christmas lights for the last few weeks, it’s not easy to get in the Christmas spirit when you’re facing into a month of exam hell. The RDS is not a venue that inspires anything but dread after three years in UCD. It’s freezing, noisy, and full of people panicking and reaming off information that you haven’t seen before and suddenly need to learn in its entirety in the five minutes before you take your seat among the thousands of other anxious students. They’ve even installed an ice-rink in the RDS complex, just in case your exam period was lacking the general hum of faint Christmas music, and less faint screaming, excited children.
It’s easy to turn into a Grinch when your little sister is spending her last weeks of term making Christmas trees out of magazines and glitter covered cards with Santa’s beaming face all over them, while you battle through shopping centres packed to the brim with festive shoppers simply to pick up some pens that work so you don’t die of a heart attack when every one of the ones you’ve been using all term die a miserable death in the RDS’s ice cave.
Disgruntled parents will block your path at every turn in the general vicinity of Santa’s latest grotto won’t add to your mood. Cranky parents, annoyed not only by their own hyper children, but at having to pay 15 quid to wait in line for two hours so their kid can get a passport photo with a fake-Santa who can’t remember the child’s name, and a ‘deluxe present’ of a baby selection box, won’t be overly cooperative when you push by in a desperate attempt to escape the Christmas music that the shopping centre, or the streets in some cases, insist on blaring at you in a bid to get to you to spend all your money so they won’t go out of business. Yay, the birth of Jesus!
Once you finally emerge, pens triumphantly in hand, you face yet another trial just to be able to study. If you choose to venture into UCD during reading week, finding a place merely to sit down will be a struggle. If you’ve managed to circumvent that wagon SUSI, you will pass the first hurdle and find yourself through the turnstiles of the library. If the SuperFines haven’t already got you, you might be able to get the one rogue copy of your most difficult module’s main textbook if you’re lucky enough to catch it as someone drops it back at desk, in the vain hope that the librarian will take pity on them and let them take it out again without it even getting near the library’s shelves.
If your main aim is to secure a plug, it’ll be faster if you turn around and go back home, sit down in your room and locate the nearest power source there because you’re otherwise going to spend the rest of the day wandering around in circles, hoping someone has a not-too-serious-but-still-briefly-worrying family emergency and will have to vacate their space, just so you can finally gain access to simple electricity in our apparently world-class University. After the library couldn’t keep students out because they hadn’t paid their fees, it decided the best way to keep pesky students out of the place would be to mark parts with plugs aplenty as ‘quiet zones’ and send LibroCop around to fine them for daring to plug their laptop in. In conclusion, just don’t bother coming to your University to learn, because they don’t want you here.
Staying home is a much nicer alternative study place. It comes with the benefits of the toaster and kettle being nearby, infinite electricity all the time, and best of all, you don’t have to endure sitting beside one of the many, many UCD students who have abandoned all sense of personal hygiene purely because it’s exam time and they can blame it on the stress of it all.
If that final essay for the elective you will forever regret choosing still won’t end, you can walk away, make some tea, and throw up a few decorations to put you in a festive mood. Everything about life seems a little better when your house smells like a real Christmas tree. Even if you still have endless, endless readings about genocide to do, throwing some fairy lights around yourself will surely do nothing but help.
If nothing else is working, the solution to all your problems is very simple. Whether your woes lie in your lack of Christmas spirit, or just a module doomed only to failure, the answer is Love Actually. Sure, for your average Christmas Grinch, Love Actually should probably be an intolerable endurance test. Pretty much every one of its many, many storylines derives from some horrible cliché and its cast follow suit. Hugh Grant continues to be as British as possible, Colin Firth is terribly deep and reserved, and Keira Knightley is still constantly pouting for no real reason. You may think you’ve seen it all before, but when that ridiculously young kid runs through the airport, dodging airport security like 9/11 never happened just to tell the ten year old love of his life that he loves her, everything will reset itself in your life. Everyone is getting married or getting laid, Hugh Grant is the Prime Minister, Snape is a dad, and Bill Nighy is an incredible aged rock-star, and there is literally nothing more you could want in one tightly wrapped Christmas package.