It is exam time at UEA. The library is packed. You have to get in ‘early’ to get a position. But luckily, early here means casually late for a Norwegian. If I had not noticed the slight increase in library users and connected it with the much dreaded undergrad exams, I needed only to have a peak out of the window. There was a new sign.
Yes, they have a help line in case it is noisy! I have never seen that before. But I think the looming sign telling you that people can text has an impact. It is quieter than before, even if the library is absolutely packed. However, the library has sounds I am not familiar with. There is not only the clinkering sounds of computer typing, pages being turned, pens against paper. It is – even in the so-called silent section where food and drinks are not allowed – crunch, crunch, and crunch.
Salt and vinegar, prawn cocktail, ready salted… Yes, I am talking about crisps. Crisps are loud food. And it once again makes me think about how different this country is from my own. Growing up in Norway crisps was what most people ate on Saturday (for some reasons it was Fridays in my family) evening when watching special programs on TV. Crisps were special unhealthy snacks, certainly not everyday food. Forget about ‘meal deals’ – they are far and few between in the land of the midnight sun, and the key ingredient here – the min crisp bag – has only very recently become an option in Norway. And even if we can ‘mini snack’ it, crisps are really things we get in medium size (compared to Britain) bags and eat at the weekends. But here crisp are part of everyday life – they come in an extreme variety of small packs and flavours and everyone seems to be munching them. Also in the library. Crunch, crunch, crunch – even in the silent section where you are not entitled to eat or drink.
And I guess I did not point out that, these portion packs never really seem to make it to the many bins around the library. Coming in ‘early’ – around the time when the washing staff are about to emerge, I always find it so very pleasurable to find pink, green, red, blue bags around the desks. Not to say the coke bottles, energy drink cans, the packaging of those horrendous triangle sandwiches and chocolate paper. Some times I feel old or perhaps it is the cleanly Norwegian in me that wants to scream – SERIOUSLY, can you not walk those 3 meters to the bin? Your mum is not here to clean up for you! But it is pointless; I am usually on my own when I enter garbage land. Also, I guess uni has replaced mummy with the extended services of the washing staff – no also garbage collectors. I once pointed the general state of mess out to one of washing staff. She just looked at me as if I was from a planet far, far away. I think she thought keep calm and carry on. So I guess, I don’t get it. But it is Friday; perhaps I should get my self a medium size bag and dig in like the rest.
Have a crispy weekend!