Volume 4, Issue 12, (Originally Published on 21 October 2013)
One month out from exams I committed the very worst of law student crimes: I gave up caffeine. No coffee, tea, or otherwise legal stimulant was to enter my system. Such a radical and unchar¬acteristic move was mostly prompted by financial necessity, with $50 a week, donated to the work of our local baris¬tas, mixing unkindly with insurmount¬able student debt. While it was getting kind of neat having them know my order before I walked in, I knew they only smiled because I’d brought money and desperation.
Day 1 was hard. I’d stupidly decided to commence my experiment on a day where I had four straight hours of class starting at 9 am. I stayed in bed with a headache until 2 pm, and in a blind haze begged my partner to bring me our last-resort stash of instant coffee. Instead, she drank a cup of tea in front of me, and criticised my life choices.
Day 3 was better, but other students had the nerve to drink coffee in the same building as me. The mood swings were a-swinging, and I considered grand theft latte. By day 6 I was starting to feel almost hu¬man again, or as human as one can feel crying face-first into the Corporations Act.
Beyond the blinding caffeine headaches and mood swings, there have been a few benefits. The body, after a period of initial, screaming adjustment, eventu¬ally becomes self-sustaining. Where previously I would have awoken in a daze, stumbled towards the kitchen, and instructed the toaster to whip up along black, I now awoke naturally and with a clear head. Where previously my concentration would wane and I’d need to halt study for caffeine top-up breaks at 11 am and 3 pm, I could now concen¬trate for longer periods on procrastinat¬ing.
It made me wonder why law students rely so religiously on coffee. It had to be more than just the long hours and the incessant need for comfort. That was what happy hour was created for. Per¬haps it had more to do with its perceived connection to achievement. There is nothing quite as sweet as victoriously finishing your case summary and taking that triumphant walk downstairs to col¬lect your prize brew. Not only that, you get to carry it back upstairs and smack it firmly back down on your desk in front of all the other suffering schmucks, that being the internationally renowned sign of ‘I’m Getting Shit Done’.
Maybe we’re all just a little bit ad¬dicted. A strong word, addiction, but a real one. I made the startling connection when I realised that if I replaced all of my usual coffee-dependence sentences with “vodka” or “cocaine” I’d have some¬thing to worry about.
“Oh god, there’s no way I’m sitting through that class without a shot of cocaine”.
“I can’t start my day without my vodka”.
“I’ll have the breakfast muffin and a double shot of amphetamines with chocolate sprinkles, thanks”.
And so on and so forth. Having shaken my caffeine dependency, I now face entering my first ever exam period without it. It may be a disaster. Or I may just find clarity amongst the panic. Okay, that’s just wishful thinking. Good luck everyone!