St Andrews is small. Very small. Of course, there are some benefits to studying in a close-knit environment: constantly bumping into friends, living a five-minute walk from virtually everyone you know and the general comfort and security of the town we have come to call home. However, the painfully obvious declaration that St Andrews isn’t the largest university town can lead to even more painful situations.
There are thousands of people here who will likely have no impact whatsoever on your life. However, the one or two people you’ve made questionable decisions with seem to pop up everywhere, constant reminders of your mistakes. As a result, we learn to be remarkably skilled at crossing roads at necessary points, positioning chairs at necessary angles and rocking sunglasses at necessary moments (Ray Bans do more than just prevent cataracts).
Despite the multitude of nifty tricks we use to avoid these individuals, even they cannot help in some situations. Tutorials are one of them. And one of the worst at that. Not only does the intimate size of the group mean that you lose a defensive wall of human bodies to hide behind, but in some of these groups, you might actually be expected to talk with the flings and flames of yesteryear – long extinguished but with lasting scorch marks on your memory. Due to the perils and probability of such a situation arising, here are four things not to do with someone you hooked up with in class. So make yourself a cup of tea and take heed.
1. Ignore them
No one’s expecting a hook up to lead to a relationship. Nor is anyone expecting to become best friends. But please, for the love of god, don’t ignore them. There are no roads to cross in a seminar room, the chairs can only swivel so far and wearing sunglasses indoors is a little extravagant even by our standards. So maybe it might be a good idea to say hi. It doesn’t have to be a long philosophical conversation or even anything to do with previous incidences. Ignoring someone will only make you look like a dick and will make the situation a great deal more awkward in the long run.
2. Talk to their friends and not them
You may know their friends or even have friends in common. But engaging with their friends in class while refusing to speak to the individual themselves may be even worse than just ignoring them on its own. Perhaps this may be an attempt to inject some normality into the situation essentially saying ‘I’m cool with what happened I can even talk to people in front of you, look how past it I am’. In reality, however, it does just the opposite. Stop it.
3. Argue with them in class discussions.
I do not understand this one. It’s uncomfortable enough to outwardly challenge someone’s perspective in class discussions, no matter how polite you attempt to be. Such displays of intellectual peacocking are rarely well received. But belittling someone’s opinion on the various virtues and vices of Tacitus’ Agricola, especially having ignored them up to this point, seems like a very peculiar way to tell them how over your fling you are.
4. Write an article about it
Well, this isn’t the worst one on the list so I think it can be forgiven….
In our small town where temperatures stoop low and hormones run high, it is inevitable that some of us will find ourselves in the same class as people we’ve exchanged more than scholarly opinions with. Although our road-crossing, chair-swivelling, sunglass-wearing tactics may not work in these situations, it can at least be made tolerable by acting like a normal human being. Acknowledging the people who’ve (temporarily) been in our lives is a good shout, as is avoiding rude, isolating and downright bizarre behaviour. Or you could bypass the situation altogether and become a nun. But this is St Andrews. I think we can all agree that the likelihood of that is even slimmer than finding yourself in class with someone you’ve hooked up with.