It is the ‘in between time,’ as C.S. Lewis so aptly described spring, if not the time between exams, getting results, and starting the new term. For me it is like cleansing the palate between courses in a great meal, or when tasting fabulous wines. This is precious time for catching up with other projects that languished during the intensity of exams, relaxing, resting mind and body, and even enjoying the occasional bursts of enlightenment about the study process that pop into my head. Although it has only been a week since my last exam it already feels like ages and ages ago. It seems so distant that when I reviewed the notes made immediately after my first exam I needed almost an hour to reconstruct the essay outlines. The exact wording of the exam questions is far beyond my ability to recall.
The disengagement from intensive study is so abrupt it is almost disorienting. My perception of time and events changes a bit dramatically, like it does through the techniques of narrative expansion and compression in the hands of the genius authors I have been so deeply engaged with over the last year. Suddenly there are big blocks of free time in my schedule and absolutely nothing I must read right now, and read in very specific ways. This week my thoughts started wandering to what courses would be best to read next term even though it seems too soon for that just yet. Most of my revising notes are still on my desk awaiting the delivery of the office supplies necessary to finish my term review and organization process. Still, it is difficult to curb the urge and habit of reading.
It is always a bit of a surprise to realize how much time and concentration is dedicated to reading and the study process during the year. This term another pleasant surprise is realizing how valuable and enjoyable the structure and productivity from studying four courses is to me, and how much I value and enjoy the particular genres of literature I read. There is quite a bit about my study process that I already started adapting to other creative and professional projects. And I cannot begin to imagine not reading these particular authors every day. Right now it feels very pleasant and productive to indulge in thoughts about how rewarding, and how much fun, this academic work is and to consider what I want to specifically accomplish next term.
It already feels a little nostalgic to think about next term, if it is possible to be nostalgic about the future. Next term I will complete my degree requirements, assuming I passed this set of exams. Over the holiday weekend I expect to be thinking about all the things the University of London International Programmes helped me to accomplish. Most of those accomplishments exceed my original goals and expectations about studying for a degree in English and Comparative literature, and for studying in this particular program.
That is quite important because it helps me recognize greater possibilities for the new term that, for me anyway, will begin on 1 June. During this long weekend we will be enjoying picnics on the farm and sitting on the porch late into the evening watching the stars come out. I will also be thinking about next terms courses, the amazing authors who turn everyday language into something incredible, and another magnificent year of reading in our extraordinary way. For me it will be a penultimate year of reading. There is a lot I want to accomplish, and happily it all seems possible.
Caowrites is studying the BA English by distance learning with the University of London International Programmes.