Bonsoir tout le monde! I hope May has everyone off to a good start. Unfortunately I don’t have much exciting news to tell, as we are officially in exam month. Everyone has been busy studying and preparing for exams (at least most of the time 🙂 ). I’m not quite sure how it works at American schools, but here, your exams are your life. Since we don’t really have marked assignments throughout the year, the final exams are the passing grade for each module. The only module I don’t have an exam for is programming, because we had four smaller exams throughout the year instead. But for everything else, I needed to revise all that I had learned since September. It’s a lot of material, so that’s why we had three weeks off to study before exams started (excluding my French aural/oral exams, which took place while classes were still on).
My exam schedule, sadly, is not that great. I had an exam every day for the first week, and I finish up with my last exam on the 21st, and all of them except one are at 9:30 in the morning. The people doing regular computer science and the people in my course studying German all finished today, but of course, the French people still have a couple weeks to go. At least the French exams should be my easiest ones, so the only thing I really have to stress out about now is preparing to go home (what to do with my stuff, where I’m going to live next year, etc).
Most of my exams are three hours long, but thankfully the linguistic ones were only an hour. The exams were pretty typical exams, I would say. For maths I just had problems to solve, mostly matrices and propositional calculus/logic. Computing was just writing code and a bunch of calculations (which was no fun to do on paper). For linguistics I wrote two essays, one on migration and language loss, and one on language and culture. For phonetics and phonology I had to analyse the sounds of words in a corpus of words in Georgian. Syntax was the only test I was a little uneasy about, but mostly because of the time and not the content. We only had an hour to analyse six sentences, which was everything from breaking each sentence down to the parts of speech, identifying the lexical and phrasal categories of the words, drawing tree diagrams, analysing the verbs and subordinate clauses, etc. (What do you call Santa’s elves? Subordinate clauses! My friends say I’m a huge nerd).
The locations for my exams are all over the place. I had a couple on campus; the nicest place was for my phonetics and phonology exam, which was in the traditional exam hall. The exam hall is a small building in the front square, and it kind of looks like a chapel, but without the altar and pews and other things that make a chapel a chapel. It had a bunch of stained glass on the inside, and paintings and sculptures. It still felt weird though to leave the exam and walk straight into a bunch of cameras from tourists taking photos of the building. Other than Trinity, the majority of the exams are at the RDS, which is a convention center in Ballsbridge. The RDS is huge, so multiple exams take place at the same time in there, and trying to find your seat number (which is in the 1000s) can be an adventure. Thankfully one of my flatmates has a car and can drive us there if we have exams on at the same time.
Other than exams, I’ve been enjoying the time I get to spend with my flatmates and friends, now that we no longer have to go to class every day. We might have all gone a bit crazy because of exams, but we make sure to take time off every now and then (mostly to eat food; people feed me so much there’s no way I’m going to go hungry). We celebrated one of my flatmate’s birthdays, and we spend some time outside now that the weather is so beautiful (although it got to 75 degrees the other day and we all thought we were going to die from the heat). The cherry blossoms are blooming all over Dublin, and they make the city smell so nice. One day pretty much everyone at Halls put on summer-like clothes and sat outside to soak up the sun. It might have seemed normal to me if I were back home, but here it kind of looked like everyone was playing dress up. Also, I don’t think I’ve ever seen people who were so pale. Guess I’m not used to living in a place where there is minimal sun!
That’s mostly what’s been going on here, study (lots of breaks) and study. I still have two French exams left, one grammar and the other reading/comprehension. My grammar one is on Friday, but my other French one isn’t until Monday a week later. So my course decided that the best way to study for our exams is for us to go to France. So we got cheap flights to go to Nice on Monday. We’ll spend a couple days there, practicing our French and enjoying the beach before we head back to finish up our first year. Should be an exciting and very busy last few weeks!