Just Like This: In Which Uni is Just Like Paper Towels (And Not Like Milk)

Caitlin is a third year Arts student, majoring in Creative Writing and English & Theatre Studies. “Just Like This” is a fortnightly column where she compares university to things that aren’t university.


My snooze button is Sesame Street. This is my parenting secret, and now it is out in the world: on the occasional occasion that my toddler wakes up before 6am, I put on an episode to buy myself an extra half hour’s snoozing.

Monday morning this week, I hit that snooze button twice – the wake up call was 4am (a blocked up nose will do that to a small person). I then rushed around looking for pants, rubbing the contents of a bottle into my face and repeating the word “toast?” like a parrot with banal culinary interests. Most mornings, even when my keys are hanging on their hook, my son will say: “Oh no, where earth the keys!” because the frantic last minute key search is so much a part of our morning routine, it doesn’t feel quite right to leave it out.


My grocery shopping strategy is based on urgency (it’s also influenced by whether or not the chocolate blocks are on sale, but that’s not important right now). My apartment is up two flights of stairs (plus, we all know about student budgets) so a trolley full of groceries just isn’t really a thing. Which means we prioritise and get stuff we very much need (milk, bread, discount chocolate) and skip the stuff we don’t (organic orange and walnut teabags, pomegranates) once the basket is full.

This is fascinating, right? You’re still with me? Good, because what I really want to talk about is my fraught relationship with paper towels. (My therapist won’t take this seriously, so you’re it. Bear with.)

The thing about paper towels is it’s just so difficult to know when to put them in the basket. They’re so very useful – particularly at our place, where I suspect spills happen more often than in most places*. They wipe up spilled stuff! They are a comfy bed for your bacon strips! They get hair dye off your face if you’re a messy DIYer!

But they also take up so much precious basket space. Once you’ve pulled paper towels off the shelf, you’ve got room for what, a bottle of milk? Maybe a loaf of bread and some chocolate, if you’re down for some squishing?


There are lots of reasons I get out of bed (sometimes at 4am) each morning, and with a few exceptions, those reasons will switch around in terms of how compelling they are at different stages of the week/month/year. (Case in point: this morning, this column is my number one priority because I am a haphazard, last minute kind of person and the UA editors go through a lot to indulge my thrill-seeking approach to deadlines. Therefore, my son is currently locked in a cupboard so I can get this done by 11am**.)

Most of the time, uni is milk. I will make room in my basket for uni when it’s milk, because it’s important and you can make coffee with it.

I’m interested and invested in my subjects and I would very much love for uni to always be milk, but none of us study in a vacuum and we all have lives outside of it. I don’t know about you, obvs, but most of the reasons I get out of bed are people. Sometimes those people have blocked noses, or are having a quarter life crisis; or sometimes I’m having a bad week and I need someone to have dinner with more than I need to finish Fifty Shades of Grey before my Pop Fiction tute. And on weeks like that – for me, weeks like this – people are milk. And uni is paper towels.


PS. Have a lovely break.

– Caitlin

*This is because I live here, not because I have a small child – he is very tidy.

**I am joking, there is no need to call the police.

Leave a reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in:

WordPress.com Logo

You are commenting using your WordPress.com account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s