It has been four years since I last sat a January exam, so of course, the last few weeks have been a bit of a shock to the system. I’ve become accustomed to forgetting everything in my first semester modules and revising like mad in April and May, so revising over Christmas was a very odd experience. My first semester in Spanish university doesn’t technically finish until 7th February, with new classes for the second semester starting the day after at the lovely time of 8:30am. I am exhausted thinking about it already.
And well, what can I say? Spanish exams are weird as hell. Luckily for me, I’ve got five this month – I’ve done three already with two more to go – and with each one comes an overwhelming sense of stress, panic and severe lack of sleep. It’s a pretty standard procedure, but with that extra sprinkling of ‘oh fuck’. I’ve been really good this year: I’ve barely missed a class, I’ve made far too many notes (each of my lit classes has at least six to eight pages of bullet points per lecture) and yet, I still feel like I know absolutely nothing at all. I don’t know what other people’s experiences in Spain or the rest of the world regarding exams has been like, but in Zaragoza, these professors expect you to know every single thing they’ve ever mentioned – in some cases, even things they haven’t.
I love studying…
Take, for example, the literature paper I sat last week. Despite learning five units of work in thirteen weeks, which doesn’t look that bad on paper, there was so much to remember. The professor even set a ‘question’ that gave you a whole extra mark if you remembered ten lines of a poem studied in class. Now, while that doesn’t sound that bad, when you’ve got to try and remember the difference between postmodernism and postmodernity, the context behind each text, what the hell a historiographic metafiction text is and all the reasons why we should rewrite the canon from a feminist standpoint, ten lines of ‘Alternative Anthem’ by John Agard easily slipped out of my head like water in a colossal sieve. I found out today I somehow managed to pass and get a 2:1 in this particular exam, but god help me for the rest – I am not so hopeful about those.
It isn’t helped by my mentality towards exams, especially given I have a tendency to panic over every tiny little thing. In the long term, this year in Spain is fabulous for several things: getting used to living away; gaining some independence and living like, gasp, an adult; most importantly, it’ll improve my language skills for the better. However, at Birmingham my year abroad is worth 12.5% of my overall degree grade, which means that each exam I do this year (that’s a grand total of ten, folks) is only worth 1.25%. And yet here I am, stressing out over each one like its the end of the world; not ideal when you’re already a very stressed out, anxious person. To top it all off, I also have to pick my final year modules and send off my dissertation proposal soon – my brain is in desperate need of a rest!
Cannot wait to be able to walk around Zaz and go and sit in a café to relax rather than to study Spanish linguistics – get me a cocktail ahora, por favor!
I hope for everyone else reading if you still have exams and essays that you’re coping well. Personally, I cannot wait until these exams are over so I can get into bed with a Chinese takeaway and watch the rest of Suits like I haven’t a care in the world. At least for one night, anyway.