Hi, my name is Ian. Briefly, I am a 50–year-old, father of four, South African-born, UK-schooled, who lives in Israel, where I practise Employment and Refugee Law. I have just completed my first module in the University’s MA degree in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies and I now await my first examination results with some trepidation. My degree course is taught by distance learning with students hailing from all corners of the globe.
In this, my first blog, I will recall my exam day experience. I flew to London for a few days in order to visit family and sit the examination at the same time. Luck would have it that examination fell on the same day as a 24 hour strike on the London Underground. As a Trade Union Lawyer it was a bit of poetical justice that I should be on the receiving end of what it feels like to be a member of the public directly affected by a strike! A pre-arranged taxi failed to collect me from my sister’s flat in Putney (a suburb in south west London), leading to a bit of a scramble in order to reach Senate House (pictured) in Russell Square by way of train to Waterloo and then a half an hour brisk walk over the Thames, through Chinatown, down Charing Cross Road and up to my destination. The last time that I had been in the area was three decades ago as an undergraduate at SOAS!
One physical change that I noticed, apart from me of course, was that back then there were fewer brand name coffee and takeaways than today. So where once I would have nipped into a family-run Italian sandwich bar, on this occasion I made do with a panini at one of the many branches of Costa Coffee!
Prior to the examination, the rules were read out by the invigilator – a variety of rules including no non-see through pencil cases on tables! What did the invigilator actually think that I had to hide in my lucky mascot red Manchester United pencil case?
The examination itself was absolute torture for a hand that had not written with a pen for longer than three minutes – let alone three hours – since its owner was 21! The exam itself was a challenge. You were allowed to take in plenty of notes and even had the question in advance! However there is no guarantee that what I wrote is what the examiner wants to see!
After the exam, my pre-arranged taxi did show up to fetch me – but two hours late owing to the strike! So, tired but relieved, I got in to the cab who crawled back to Putney. Looking at me (judging my age probably) and then at the University building, my cab driver assumed that I was some leading academic. “Refugees” I proudly answered when he asked me my field of expertise!
Ian is studying the MA in Refugee Protection and Forced Migration Studies by distance learning in in Israel.