Who are these people, even?

By Sheena Koh

Few things strike fear in the hearts of university students like the dreaded 8am lecture. But, be it an 8am or 8pm lecture, you’ll definitely have met some of these colourful characters that populate our hallowed halls of knowledge. Bonus points if you’re reading this in a lecture.


The Zombie is the person who comes and sleeps for an hour, briefly reanimates during break, then sleeps until the alarm sounds. You know this one - the lecture is about to start, and you’re trying to find the sweet spot on the hard, scratchy LT seat (P.S. you’ll never find it) for optimum butt comfort. Suddenly, you hear a telltale shuffle from behind you, and there’s a faint, earthy odour of some small animal that has died. No, it’s not a calefare from World War Z – it’s just your friendly course mate who clearly needs more sleep. A true classic.

The walking dead have got nothing on the Zombie.



The Picnicker may come alone or in groups, but one thing’s for sure – they come bearing treats, and lots of them. In their arsenal of brunch items, you can probably find a pau or two, a stray siewmai, coffee, and waffles. Definitely waffles.

Don’t let anyone tell you waffles aren’t brain food!


Quick, put on your thinking caps!

What kind of room can’t you lepak (to aimless loiter; from Malay lepa ‘lazy’) in?

Ans: A round one, because there are no corners.

Thankfully for our Lepak One Corner (LOC), a typical lecture theatre bound by the rules of space and time has at least four corners. LOC unite! Like its origin lepa (‘lazy’ in Malay), to lepak suggests that one has lackadaisical tendencies. LOC are therefore vehemently against effort, class participation be damned. These people have a certain vibe about them: some call it effortless cool, some just call it slacktitude. Whatever it is, these guys also inexplicably seem to be the ones ruling the bell curve.

The real closet mugger.


The Gossip Girl/Guy is the person whose photo you secretly take a Snapchat of, and then caption it “Walao eh pay school fees to hear lecturer not you right!” (thereby creating a chain of meta-gossip). Nothing is more annoying than trying to listen to the professor - you know, for once - and instead hearing the nonstop chatter of the Gossip Girl/Guy.

Eat your heart out, Blair Waldorf. The Gossip Girl/Guy of LT9 is here to stay.


Cue the floating hearts and romantic music, everyone. Your crush has just walked into the LT. Is the place suddenly a lot brighter, or what? This person is an angel incarnate, and you swear flowers grow in their wake. Because, come on, this is the only reason you’re going for lectures, right? Knowledge? Psh.

This picture has been intentionally left blank because love is blind.


Here’s a good phrase to use for your next essay: the presence of absence. Or maybe not, because it basically carries as much substance as the next character on our list, the Mysterious Presence. This person will never be there if three conditions are fulfilled:

  1. It’s not the first week
  2. It’s not the day of a lecture test
  3. The module has webcasts

If The Mysterious Presence also happens to be your crush (see 5)…then I’m sorry.

This picture has also been intentionally left blank because of the presence of absence.


There’s one in every lecture. Even if it’s a lecture about quantum field theory, this student will be busy playing Fallout 4 as you break your wrists trying to copy down notes before the professor changes the slides. A subspecies of the Gamer is the Facebooker. Either way, by the end of the lecture you’ll be intimately familiar with their online habits, if you know what I mean.

Stop playing Farmville, you deviant.


Nightmare Scenario #186

“Any questions?”

The professor’s voice echoes through the lecture theatre. Suddenly, the ugly grey carpet of the lecture theatre becomes supremely interesting to the 300-odd students in the lecture theatre. Uncomfortable shuffling ensues. Inexplicably, a pin drops, and of course, it is audible.

The awkward, pregnant pause begins to birth baby awkward pauses that grow up and have families of their own. Thankfully, before the lecture theatre is overpopulated by awkward pauses, a hand shoots up.

A hero has appeared.

With bated breath, the class turns to look at the lone brave soul.

“So...when’s the make up class?”

The class groans. How the mighty have fallen.

You only wish you were brave enough to ask questions.


The Time Traveller is late – again. Closely related to the Mysterious Presence, the Time Traveller is the one perpetually late friend who runs into lecture 15 minutes before the lecture ends and says, “Sorry I’m late.” You’re not even sure he knows who the lecturer is. Doctor, who?

What the Time Traveller sees most of the time. On the bright side, he/she will be early for the next one.

Do you recognise your friends, or perhaps even yourself in these stock characters of your everyday lecture hall? Find more like-minded lecture buddies with SUP the app!

About the writer: Sheena is a second year literature major. She loves to read, and enjoys spearmint tea with honey.