Ah, Shopping Period. It’s one of those quintessential aspects of Brown, embodying the very spirit of the open curriculum: explore all of your interests, take in all of the courses Brown has to offer, and build your own schedule—even if it means that some of those interests and course offerings meet at the same time. In theory, Shopping Period gives students the green light to pack their belongings mid-lecture and leave for another class without any offense to the professor. Yet, for some reason, it always feels slightly wrong. Whether the professor throws some shade your way as you scurry out of J. Walter Wilson, or if they make a passing joke or comment about people jumping ship halfway through a fifty-minute class, no one has perfected the mid-class Shopping Period exit (not to be confused with the sexit). We’re here to deconstruct it.
The reactions of professors to the mid-class exit are varied, contingent on many different circumstances, from how long the professor has been at Brown to the size of the class. Some of the more common responses include:
- The one who says it’s okay to leave midway at the beginning of the class. This one tends to be a newly minted professor or instructor, trying to give the impression that they get it. While this one will try to ignore the handful of individuals shuffling out of the classroom in the midst of their lecture, his/her eyes trail them out the door, even if just for a split second.
- The one who observes a moment of silence when a student leaves the classroom. These tend to be the seasoned Shopping Period veterans, who know how it works but still take the mid-class exit to heart. They will quietly wait for you to close the door behind you, no matter how small the class is and how awkward that silence may be for the remaining students.
- The one that makes a direct comment about your exit. As you try to swiftly gather your bearings and make your way out the door without causing a disturbance, the professor will directly address the situation. You’ll have to explain yourself. They reluctantly let you go. Everyone feels uncomfortable.
The professors are not in the wrong. It’s an awkward scenario for them as well: they’ve prepped for those first couple of introductory classes, which tend to be dry and logistical. It’s tough enough to present students with engaging material while repeating nuances of the academic code of conduct. So to have students walk right out as they’re mid-sentence, talking passionately about readings and papers, can be a little disheartening. Although it’s our right (and privilege) to shop till we drop, we need to remember that Shopping Period is hard on everyone—students and professors alike.
We must be mindful of our exits and try to keep them as unobtrusive as physically possible. However, this is easier said than done. Here are some things to keep in mind when your Banner cart is bleeding red:
- If you’re shopping a seminar, talk to the professor before class. Arrive early, introduce yourself, and explain that you’ll have to leave halfway through the meeting time. It’ll be impossible for you to leave a 15-person table unnoticed. Unless you’re a ninja, in which case Shopping Period must be a breeze. If you’re seminar hopping, e-mail the second seminar’s professor beforehand, so it’s less awkward when you waltz in midway.
- If you’re going to a large lecture, sit by the door. There’s nothing more painful to watch than someone trying to maneuver their way to the door when they’re sitting on the other side of a packed classroom. You want to make yourself scarce. So what if you have to sacrifice a precious seat to sit on the floor—it’ll be easier on everyone, trust me. As you walk out, avoid all eye contact; just brush your hair in front of your eyes and keep your head down. Be smooth.
The #1 thing to remember about the mid-class exit: it’ll always be a teensy bit awkward. So just try to make it as painless of a process as possible.
A previous version of this post was published by BlogDailyHerald in January 2014.