The past month has been stressful to say the least.
Enduring weeks of equal parts study and procrastination, tearing my hair out over trying to pass (and do well on) my exams, forgetting how to cook food properly because sometimes peanut butter sandwiches are just easier, listening to The Smiths’ complete collection on repeat to drown my sorrows…
Today I realized something pretty massive: I was stressing myself out, giving myself headaches just by excessive worrying and not taking proper care of myself during these intense weeks.
See, these study weeks have been wholly unique, even though this isn’t my first time to the rodeo (taking finals in university, that is).
Firstly, I’m studying in a different country, which inevitably brings a different educational system.
Final exams are weighted much more heavily – all of my finals account for somewhere between 70-80% of my final marking for the semester. Along with this extra pressure, though, comes the knowledge that to pass, I only need to score over 40% overall. Perfectionist me still aims for that golden 90% or higher, but there’s a reason for the lower threshold – exams are comprehensive and one 90-minute period could make or break your final grade.
Secondly, however, I’m in a completely different position since this is the first time I’m taking all of my finals in courses pertaining to my new major – computer science.
It sounds strange to say that describing the structure of a balanced binary tree, proving logical statements are tautologies, forming queries in SQL, and deriving circuits from truth tables are all tasks I thoroughly enjoy. I think I’ve finally found my niche, a subject that infinitely fascinates and constantly invigorates me. I thoroughly enjoy what I do, and that totally changes my perspective on finals.
Here, I have just a few hours to sum up all the interesting bits and pieces I’ve learned over the past few months and weave them together to prove my knowledge to the very people who have passed the knowledge onto me. I prefer to think of finals as some sort of epic quest to prove my worth and myself – it sounds medieval, but more magical than torturous.
Yes, it’s unbelievably stressful, tiring, worrying. But the holidays are mere days away and I can get through it.
It just helps – a whole lot – to really love what you’re doing. Find that thing – find your nice. Explore until you’re nearly satisfied, so that every day you look forward to learning more about that thing. Never settle for less than a subject or a living that constantly pushes you to want more, to learn more, to do more with yourself.
I’m still on the way to finding that thing, but when I chose computer science in that fork in the road, the path ahead got a little less hazy. And that little bit of clarity is a truly great thing.
Wishing the best of luck with finals to all of my student readers.
And remember –
“Love what you do and do what you love.” — Ray Bradbury