04/02/2017

MELISSA'S MISADVENTURES #1 | "Slavery is Legal in Finland"


I do lots of awkward things. LOTS. The level of awkwardness in my everyday life has only increased since I moved abroad and started introducing cultural misunderstandings into this terrible mixture of face-palming encounters. You can only imagine how many times I've failed the classic "Hey how's it going?" question the Irish so adore by stuttering "Oui... NO I mean ehh fine, or good, or like... you?"

This is exactly why I wanted to start a little monthly series of stories about all the cringyness I face every day, namely MELISSA'S MISADVENTURES. Are you ready? Because the cringe will only be stronger from here on.

So, I have a module of international human rights law this semester in university. This module is taught by a pretty important person, an outsider to our college - a barrister from the international court of justice or something like that. He's a big deal.

Honestly, I love these classes. The problem is they start at 9:00 and I'm not friends with mornings, at all. I usually go to sleep at 2:00 and wake up after 10. So you can only imagine how hard it is to concentrate sometimes when the barrister is going through a set of articles from the European Convention on Human Rights word by word and all I can think of is coffee. Lots of coffee.

Well, now. A week ago I had managed to stay awake and take notes for a solid half an hour when I let my mind wander for a tiny bit. It couldn't be that bad, right? It wandered to Facebook (I use OneNote to take notes in class) and noticed an interesting article from Irish Times. It took me approximately 30 seconds to read the article and send it to Alex.

Sadly this is the exact amount of time the barrister needed to start a question round in the class, and I, concentrated on Facebooking as I was, had absolutely no idea what the question is. There's only two people before me now. I panic. A girl answers something I can't hear, and now it's time for the guy sitting right next to me. He answers "legal".

"Melissa?", the barrister says. I have no other option than to copy the guy's answer and hope for the best.
"Uhhh...." I go. "Hmm... leeegal...?"
Everyone in the class chuckles. The barrister smiles. "Oh! As you can see, we have many different countries represented here in the class!"
And he moves to the next student. His answer is "illegal." And so is the next one. And the one after that.

I had no idea what I had answered to, but it started to sound pretty damn bad. Worst of all, we never went back to the question after the round so I lived in this painful state of ignorance until lunch, never mind some extremely uncomfortable thematics of "torture" and "degrading treatment" being thrown around in the lecture after the question to give me an idea what it might've been about. So eventually I got out of the class room and asked a friend.

"Oh, right!" she said. "Yeah, that was funny."

It turned out I had stated that slavery is legal in Finland.

"Oh my god. You know, I slept so badly last night" I told her, "And this morning in the class, I just completely zoned out and I wasn't listening AT ALL!"

And immediately after shouting these words in the echoing stairway I heard footsteps from behind us. I turned around.

It's the barrister.

Have you ever embarrassed yourself in front of a professor you wanted to impress? How to stay awake without coffee? Let me know in the comments below!


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