i have adventures (sometimes)

Tuesday, 10 January 2012

The Five Signs of Exam Madness

It's always easy to tell when it's exam time. And it's not the jacarandas. All the jacarandas mean is that it's too late to start studying, which I've always thought was a bit unhelpful, since it's not like they come with a warning three weeks before they bloom to let you get the jump on them.

Oh... Well, never mind, then. (Source)

There's something about exams that makes my brain go haywire. It's not even that I'm a particularly good student, because if I were, I'd work hard the rest of the year, too, instead of spending all that time on the internet. But when exams and deadlines loom, for a brief few weeks, I actually turn into the sort of organised, diligent student I like to pretend I am, and I draw up timetables and I go to the library and I spend hours and hours making notes and colour coding them.*

And also, I go mad.

Here are a few of the signs that it's exam time again.

1. Pasta and Jam
Inevitably, the first thing to go is sensible food. Cooking takes precious time that could be spent studying (or at least avoiding studying in a more focused way), which means that food in exam time is purely about survival. I become a Bear Grylls of the kitchen, scrabbling around for things that might be edible and combining them with other things that might also be edible, and hoping for the best. Chickpeas out of the can, pasta and jam, rice with custard, porridge for supper, frozen peas and rice cakes for a week...

They're green, so they must be healthy. Especially with other green things. Like whatever that was at the back of the fridge. (Source)

2. Pyjamas and Ink
I am not, at the best of times, a style goddess. I have been known to wear stripes with checks with tartan with more stripes, which I've been told is Not What People Do. But during exam time, that's the least of my worries. Some years, I don't change out of my pyjamas at all. When I feel like I should make at least a token effort to dress up like a person, I'll go for tracksuit pants, the most I'm willing to compromise with actual leaving-the-room clothing when I know I'm only going to be sitting at a desk all day anyway. And if I've put in all that effort, I'm hardly going to do it again a mere 24 hours later, so I just tend to pick an outfit and wear it for days.

I also end up mysteriously covered in ink. Mysteriously because the rest of the year, I seem to manage to avoid it. But at exam time, suddenly it's all over my face and my hands and under my nails, and there's highlighter on my nose and I don't understand how any of this happened, but it makes me look a bit feral.

Productive, but feral.

Everything is fine here, and also this book is delicious.

4. Exam-brain
Studying breaks my brain. I forget how to spell words (including my own name), I stop being able to make sentences, and I lose the ability to perform the few simple real life tasks I know how to do, like tying my shoelaces, numbering lists in the correct order, and remembering how door handles work.

And then there's the fact that exam time makes me really, really boring. Not that I'm a sparkling wit the rest of the year, but with a little thought, I can get small talk (and even medium and large talk) right, sometimes. At exam time, the best I can manage is "How's the studying going?", "Do you understand this?", "I haven't left the library in days!" and "Is that peanut butter in your bag? Can I have some?"

Coffee is an excellent illustration of my total failure to learn from empirical observation. You'd think I'd have learned by now that coffee does nothing for me. Well, it technically keeps me awake, but only in the sense that I probably won't faceplant on a desk in the library, fast asleep. For the most part, it just makes me feel headachey and slightly sick and as if my brain's been scooped out and replaced with mushy Froot Loops. It's not as much fun as it sounds.


5. Caramelldansen
Because sometimes you've been sitting at your desk for hours and you just have to get up and dance to incomprehsible Swedish dance music. I don't know why it has to be this particular brand of audible crack, but it does. I suspect it's because I heard it for the first time during a period of severe sleep deprivation and exam madness, and, well, it just seemed like a good idea at the time. It probably helped that the first version I came across was the Doctor Who misheard lyrics version (David Tennant makes everything better).

I try not to do this in the library. Too often.


And after the madness comes the crippling exam time despair. I start wondering what I'm doing with my life and why I ever thought that "another linguistics degree" was a sensible answer to "what are you going to do with a linguistics degree?", contemplating the futility of everything that isn't peanut butter or frozen peas, spending hours staring at my notes without reading them, and making plans to run away and open a travelling pirate-themed vegan bakery.

Because no one asks you to make study notes when you're sailing the seven seas in a cake tin.

Arrr! Affordable vegan cupcakes for all!

*Until I get bored and stop doing all that or, like in second year, I come down with a severe case of Plants vs Zombies and can't work at all.


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