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.
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.
Having been so busy studying all the time, I was already in my third year when I discovered the University of London International Programmes Official Student Blog and decided to join the clan of student bloggers. My first post on the Official Student Blog was ‘Beginning of the End’ in September 2015, and here I am writing my farewell post, for it has been around eight months since I have outgrown the term ‘student’.
My journey as a student blogger has been wonderful and I recommend all students out there, no matter what year you are in, to give it a try. One gets to connect with other students of the University of London all around the world. Writing down what you are feeling not only makes you feel lighter but sharing your experiences with other students is a small way of helping each other out as well. Not only that, reading your peers’ blog posts makes you feel better about not being the only one going crazy around exam time, and helps you get through your time as a student. Sometimes, reading up on posts that are not related to studying can be refreshing and can give your mind a break from constant studying.
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 writing fiction an author has two ways to create a sense of tension and urgency in a reader and set the pace of the story. One is a time lock. The other is an option lock. A time lock means the character has X amount of time to accomplish Y and avert the consequences. It’s a race against the clock. An option lock means the character has to make a choice between two or more options to achieve their goals and avert disaster. If you are feeling behind in your studies, chances are the narrative around your dilemma contains an element of both time and option locks.
Writing science says that groups of people respond in different ways to each kind of lock, but more about that another time. For those of us engaged in post-graduate study I think the two get conflated. To solve the option/time lock we have to answer two simple questions. How much time do I have to prepare, and if I do option A, B, or C what results will I get? The consequences and looming potential for disaster are self-evident. So, how do I assemble my resources and move past the time/option lock that inevitably comes before exams?
2017 has been an extremely eventful year and the first three months have flickered by in no time, but more about the eventful things later! The onset of April means, for most of us students, exams are around the corner. This is by no means my intention to set in ‘testophobia’ amongst all of us taking the University of London examinations. On the contrary, this serves as a perfect occasion for me to share some tools that have proved beneficial!
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?
One of the most common criticisms of philosophy is that it’s not ‘practical’; that is, the study of philosophy doesn’t require students to learn anything useful. I strongly disagree with this charge, of course. For those who are studying philosophy develop many highly valuable ‘meta-skills’, such as those required by activities involving careful analysis and clear communication, that can be applied directly to countless specific endeavors. But there’s one area of philosophy that’s immediately practical par excellence, for it’s concerned with the choices we all make every day of our lives. This, of course, is the study of ethics.