Throughout the past four years of my time as a student of the University of London, I have spent the best part of my summers mulling over reading lists. Don’t you all anticipate the new stationary, new books and new reading lists when exams still seem aeons away? The first day of holidays right after my last exam, I have downloaded the subject guides quite as if on autopilot. It has given me a rush of joy and immense satisfaction to discover in advance what the coming academic year holds for me.
To complement my last post, I decided to write about the most helpful resources I used this year in order to prepare the two modules I had registered for (‘Intro. to English Language’ and ‘Renaissance & Restoration’). Almost all of these are specific to the BA English degree syllabus, but perhaps students from other disciplines are curious about what we read or may be interested in some of the topics. Prospective students of these two modules may find something interesting among the titles I mention.
I was extremely busy from January to April preparing for my CertHE in English exams that I did not post to the UoL student blog during this period. Now I have completed my exams and enjoyed a period of rest, I think it is a good time to reflect on the period that has passed and write about it. My CertHE was a testing time for me, but I am glad to say that I have no regrets about going through the process.
Now that I am done with my exams, like many of you must be, my post-exam routine is a go-to activity. It is a ritual that I have perfected over the course of four years studying two different degrees through the University of London. The primary goal for this meditative process is to achieve a closure with the previous academic year. It always allows me to move on to the next task with a fresh perspective.
My, my. What a roller-coaster this year has been, phew! I see myself now in a very different place from the starting point of my journey. Throughout this year I have reconnected with myself, learned one or two new things and basically enjoyed getting lost in books. If you are anything like me, you probably spent the two weeks after your last examination cursing yourself because relevant ideas for your essays kept popping up in your head. We went to Spain to visit relatives and to enjoy the warm weather there (warmer than Luxembourg, at any rate) and I still could not shake off this feeling of having lost the opportunity of getting a better grade.
To get the much-needed closure on this year I canalized my energy and my concern for my studies in an evaluative effort, trying to ascertain how realistic I was in my initial appraisals, how I have adjusted to changes and how everything turned out in the end. I think it is wiser to do this before getting examination results, that way the evaluation is less mediated by the final outcome. You know I am a firm contender for focusing on the process instead of results.
Have you seen the episode of ‘How I met Your Mother’ where Marshall is waiting to see if he passed the New York state bar exams? The conflict is that he lost his password and can’t log into the candidate portal, which means he was to wait even longer to see if he passed or not. The writers did a masterful job building suspense and tension. If you are waiting for exam results, you might feel the same way. Everything is on the line while you wait.
Sometimes waiting for results feels more stressful than taking exams, but no matter, all you can do is sit tight. I try to keep calm, but for the first few weeks that’s virtually impossible. Here is how I have learned to cope.
My examinations are over.
It is hard to believe, and right now I feel a bit lost. Suddenly my mornings are free, and although I have a to-do list for the forthcoming months (a pretty long one), there is some weirdness in this sudden lack of structure. I wanted to write here in part to counteract that feeling, but also to share with you some words of encouragement.
When I was as young as six or seven, someone once told me: “Each of us is given 24 hours a day, and it is in your hands how you want to make full use of these 24 hours”. These aren’t the exact words, I’m pretty sure about that. But three decades on, the gist of the philosophy is still etched in my mind. The embarrassing thing is this, I can’t remember who this person is. Whoever the person is, he/she sure sounds like an authoritarian to me now I think about it. Why would an adult decide that he/she should impart this time management wisdom to a six or seven year old kid? I guess he/she must have felt so revolted by how, as a child, I spent my time so insensibly. Quite frankly, as an adult now, they still seem to be the kind of activities that a child should rightly be doing – sticker collection, bookmark collection (which I am still collecting today), hopscotch, Pac Man etc.
Well, I’m glad that I remembered what he/she said but forgot whoever the person is. Didn’t they say that we should remember only the good things in life?
With level 5 formative assessments already handed in and the looming date of formative assessment for level 4, it seems that the reality of examinations is sinking in. Perhaps you are already drafting your revision plans, or maybe you are still considering how to approach the task of organizing revision time to make the most of it. In your plans, do not forget to take in to account the help you can get from family and friends. They are there not only to cheer you up, but they can also be an invaluable help to optimizing revision.
Here are my three Rs for 2017: revisit, recover and renew; created so that a systematic approach would help me in meeting my resolutions for 2017.
Another year has passed, and whether 2016 was a productive year or not, (what has passed is the past) I am ready to leave it where it is. However, there is a thin line between forward-looking and denial of past mistakes: the forgiving and understanding self in us could easily be the excessively lenient and doting self, who will readily take a look-over instead of examining the root cause of our unproductivity. The latter continues to encourage us to sit on tasks, therefore hindering us from completing at least one percent more work than the year before. Another year would go by, with nothing done.