Remembering our fine tradition of reviewing things that
don’t really matter pass over the undiscerning eye (such as pastries, cafes and chairs), we mark the beginning of a new semester with the beginning of a new set of criticisms — in this case, the lecture hall. After all, environment is everything. Our first assessment comes from that building you mostly think of as a 15 story coffee shop: NoCo. Yes, they have classrooms.
For an English major who’s rarely had a class of more than 50 people, the stumbling entrance into NoCo 501 (and you didn’t even know that building had individual rooms until about half an hour ago) is one fraught with terror and agoraphobia. The combination of your bulky outerwear, the Joe’s cup leaking onto your hand, and the stares of what have to be a thousand people looming above you cause you to break into a sweat almost instantly. So this is what being a premed is like.
Gone are the quiet comforts of Hamilton with its poorly designed chairs and the same Moleskine notebook on everyone’s lap. You know from creeping the roster that you have several friends in this lecture, but hopelessness overwhelms you as you try to scan the crowd. And even if you do spot an acquaintance, the public embarrassment of lugging your backpack over there and knocking over a whole row of supplies might kill any friendly greeting. So you make do, sinking (deflating) into the closest seat and slowly trying to nudge aside your neighbor’s three scarves. These seats, while seemingly plush, actually promote very unhealthy spinal positions and are not designed to fit a person *and* a coat. It becomes clear that no matter how shiny and new a building NoCo is, it still can’t boast a pull-out desk that can fit both a medium-sized book and a coffee cup.
There are no windows. You are really, really, really close to the person next to you. As in you can feel them breathing on your arm. Multiple attempts to gracefully take your sweater off have failed. You’ve elbowed the guy behind you twice.
The strangely non-flourescent lighting is a double-edged sword: of course the softer yellows are preferable to the atmosphere of some Pupin rooms you’ve been in, but the near-dimness creates an impenetrable distance between you and the professor talking aaaallll the waaaay down there. From your height about 2/3 of the way up the room, all you can make out is the gleam of his balding head, shining in the faux-soothing light. Yet NoCo works its magic: the warmth of all the coats to your left, right, and on your head, the pro-slouching chair getting more comfortable by the second, and the distant smell of Joe’s lull you into that morning lecture stupor. For a few minutes, you can forget the inevitable trauma of trying to get out of your seat. Then you make a move to stretch your legs, and remember where you are.
Learning throwback via Wikimedia Commons