Exams: a series of small deaths and mental breakdowns


I am sure everyone knows the feeling of nausea in the stomach on the way to something important, student or not. In my case, it all began quite early after Christmas, when I started to think about upcoming exams.

I had to leave my beloved cosy “Mom Hotel”, head back to Leipzig and face the madness called examination period. Thank you very much.

I never really feared this time of year; not because of my super efficient way of studying (never happened), but because I am quite a free spirit.

I tend to do as much as I can and leave everything else up to destiny.

Even the exams at university usually played in my favour. Everything was managed through presentations or term papers, which really worked for me because the topic of choice depended on what I liked, as long as it correlated with the main subject.

But somehow, it didn’t work this time, because heavens broke loose and professors of our department decided in favour of oral exams. Since I am not much of a talker, I died a thousand deaths when I heard the “great news”.

Gone were the times of a good night’s sleep, calm nerves and lazy days that I enjoyed so much during the holidays back at home. Instead, I went through a phase of sleepless nights (or falling asleep during the day lying on all the study material you tried so hard to remember), six cups of coffee to keep me up and lavender drops to avoid a mental breakdown.

Take-outs took over as the meal of choice and home cooking became something I just couldn’t afford, because I would lose too much time preparing it. Really healthy times, right?

The most terrifying thing was that I had to go through some obligatory linguistics subjects that accumulated on my list because I refused to take them before, hoping that they would magically disappear. I am a bookworm and serious literature lover, and my natural habitat is a library, so you can imagine how completely illogical and useless linguistics is for me. It’s just too technical and soulless.

And trying hard to understand something completely incomprehensible and convince my brain to take it all in was a really difficult job to do.

I was a hot mess when “D-day” came.

I hadn’t gotten much sleep during the night: constant waking up from nightmares of classrooms and failed exams took its toll on me. I had to convince myself to get up from under my comforters that successfully protected me from the deadly grips of linguistics monsters, throw some acceptable clothes on and hit the road.

Waiting for a delayed tram didn’t really help the situation, either. Images of me running with panic through Leipzig, trying hard to get there in time, started to fill my vivid imagination.

Of course, the tram came eventually and I got in, praying to everyone and everything for no more delays. I couldn’t stop making up tragic scenarios all the way to the uni: What if I fail? Would I still have enough credits to continue studying? Is there any other subject to take instead if I fail?

I couldn’t believe myself.

I never thought that I would be the one going crazy over exams, reflecting on my previous experiences with similar situations.

When everything was over and I closed the door behind me, all the linguistic crap flew out through my ears to the atmosphere. I went to the supermarket, bought wine and tons of food, brought it home and cooked, ate and drank like crazy for three days straight.

Memories of the tragic phase called examination period started to fade away slowly with the delicious smell of comfort food and the heady taste of wine on my tongue. What was left was only a sweet idea of the last semester ahead of me, and the great feeling that soon I would be right where I wanted to be: at the end of something that seemed so unattainable at the beginning.

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