The Christmas season is most definitely over and I must have ended up on Santa’s naughty list again this year. He’s ignored my letter and all he brought me was a big bag full of exams.
It’s a clever move by the man in the red suit, coal might have kept me warm over a cold winter, but exams are guaranteed to leave me shivering with anxiety.
I remember during the final exams for my undergrad in 2014 I managed to lose my breakfast on the walk between the flat and the exam hall every morning. It’s a remarkable achievement if you consider the fact that I’d already eaten it before I left. These days I only panic when I’m inside the exam hall, which is a slight improvement all things considered. I usually manage to keep my meals down too.
During my undergrad exams were only once a year and all I can really remember is the panic. In final year a group of us stayed together in a friend’s apartment for the two weeks of exams. It’s true that misery loves company, so we decided to stick together instead of being miserable alone.
Now when I’m sitting in an exam and turn the page, I feel that wave of anxiety washing over me
We’d stay up for hours compressing notes and trying to force them into our heads before an exam. Then we’d wake up and go to face the music together. I got through that, but I knew I had to learn to cope better.
Now when I’m sitting in an exam and turn the page, I feel that wave of anxiety washing over me and I take a second. It feels like drowning and all I want to do is freak out, but I take a moment to calm myself. I try to breathe, remember my studies and not get overwhelmed.
I realise that makes me sound more like a traumatised soldier back from war than a student at a desk in Zernike. But before you call me over-dramatic, I’m pretty sure a statistics exam I took in 2016 gave me PTSD.
In general, things were tougher by 2016, by then I had two exam sessions a year which really piled on the pressure. You can imagine my joy when I found out that the RUG holds four exam seasons a year… Another gift, now I panic about my future four times a year instead of just once!
I really must get myself off that list…