I’ve never been terribly bad at exams. They generally don’t stress me out, and I test pretty well. Which is fortunate, due to my extreme procrastination. However, the Oxford exam experience is pretty different. Much more stressful.
First of all, exams are all unidentified. You put a number on them. You do everything in pen (anything in pencil aside from diagrams is considered “rough work”), including math (where it’s important to show your work so you can get a few marks if you forget to carry the all-important ‘2’). Then, they’re double-marked– two people get an answer key and mark your exams. If the marks are close, they’re averaged, and if they’re far, then the individual goes to a third examiner. It’s all very important and secretive and Oxford. It also takes a hell of a long time, which is frustrating as we’ve no feedback from two of our courses as the exam schools didn’t get them marked in time.
Second of all, there really isn’t that much time. I’m pretty used to having time to finish up my exams and go over my work. Not so here. The exams were pretty short but in most of them we had a very short amount of time to work, particularly when compared with the amount of information in my head poured out on the page. Crazy.
And when I got to Finance, I looked and had no idea what to do with the first question. I could see the formulae sheet in my head but none of them made any sense compared with what was the question was asking. Fortunately, several of the finance-y heads seemed pretty unsure and drew blanks so I don’t feel like quite such an idiot.
Finally, if the examiners feel like there are “too many distinctions” then they take marks off from everyone. And then remind us that we aren’t competing with each other.
Overall, though, I think I did fairly well. But I also thought I nailed one paper and only got a “good job” mark (65) on it. But I’m fairly sure that I won’t have to resit anything. I hope.
Stressed MBAs finished with exams. There’s champagne and, in my hand, a paper cup filled with 40 year old Macedonian moonshine.
We finished our final exam at 1030 on Thursday, then started drinking (pausing only to meet, after several shots of aged hard liquor, with the head of the Entrepreneurship project where he told us, nicely but basically, that our ideas weren’t all that good but we might be able to squeeze out a distinction if our later-that-day meeting with the Engineering school went well. It didn’t. They aren’t really ready for us.) and I didn’t stop until the bad DJ at the club at 2AM or something put on “Uptown Girl” which told me it was time to get the fuck to bed.
The next day I watched The Golden Compass, which was good, and cool to see bits that were filmed in Oxford, but left me feeling a bit not-quite-satisfied. Hard to place why, but there you go.
After a few days picking up books I ran off to Ireland. Spent a few days wandering around Grafton street and shopping, then off to the West coast to see Steve and Sara, who is growing something besides art inside of her body. Very cool. Back in Dublin for 2 nights instead of one (I changed my trip to go visit Emilio from the Pembroke MCR and his family in Udine, Italy). Spent one night going to see Kìla, a Irish Trad meets world music band. They were really quite good. That morphed into drinks out with a bunch of the (now ex-) SF Irish Mafia which morphed into a good old-fashioned open bar house party. Except that it was in an office. It was random and goofy but also plain fun.
Saw some Italian cities, including Treviso, Trieste (the coffee there is way better than it is in Sausalito), and Venezia. Lovely towns, all. Good pace of life in Italy. Really good food. Cheap trains. Fashion and style– from everyone. There’s a lot going for this place.
Emilio’s family is absolutely wonderful. They welcomed me and feed me and won’t let me pay for anything, though they did accept the Italian wine I brought them, insisiting that it’s quite good. I’m fattenning up for the Rowing on Salamis and pastas and wine and walking and traveling and that’s all just fine with me. If you have a chance to spend Christmas with an Italian family, I suggest you do so. Even in the North, where it’s cold cold cold.
Artsy shot in the mirror from the vaporetto in Venezia.