No more pencils, no more books, no more teachers’ dirty looks
Except … not so much.
The term (unfortunately called Michaelmas term – I suppose “autumn term” was too pedestrian?) was ten weeks long, and technically ended yesterday. I figure that I read somewhere around 100 articles / books over those ten weeks, wrote four essays (three of which have been marked and returned), and learned some really interesting theories about morality, objectivity and public policy. I’ve also been doing preliminary work on my dissertation (we’d call it a thesis back in the States), and of course have been trying to enjoy London as much as possible.
However, British post-graduate programs are different from the ones in the States in that (for the most part) the courses last an entire year. So I’m halfway done with my coursework for my three regular courses, and so far have no official marks (grades). Why? Because 100% of each mark in each of my courses is based solely on the exam, which takes place in late May / early June. On the one hand it’s great, as there was no end of term stress right now – usually by the time Christmas roles around I’m utterly exhausted and either sick or about to get sick from working hard finishing papers and studying. So that’s a plus. Another plus is the fact that the exams are generally three hours long and consist of a host of question, of which I’ll need to answer three. Now, I’m sure there will be rules like “pick one from this section, and one from this,” but in all likelihood I won’t have to spend loads of time on the couple of sections I either don’t quite understand or really just don’t enjoy.
Big negative, though – EVERYTHING rides on the exams. No papers to take some of the pressure off. And I don’t even know what dates my exams will be on until April 26, which means I can’t make any plans for May and June until then. I was hoping to run in a Scottish half marathon, but that could be a bad choice if I have an exam the next day.
During these last couple of weeks of term I’ve also gotten to enjoy the Christmas season in London. Kate, Richard and I baked and decorated cookies last week, then watched Elf (after the world cup draw, which was interesting and extraordinarily complicated). This week I finished my holiday shopping, addressed the last of my Christmas cards, and just generally enjoyed being here. Oh! And my department had its end of term party, and it was wonderful. Some of the professors / lecturers are in a band (Critique of Pure Rhythm), and they played covers of fun 60s dance music for the greater part of the evening. And my friend Anna and I won the twist contest, which meant more free drinks and an I heart LSE mug. Score!
I head to the States on Monday for my three city, 14,200 mile winter tour. I’m so excited to see everyone – and to take advantage of the pound to dollar exchange rate.