Goodbye November, Hello December.


November is coming to a close, which means that December is now on the horizon. Although December is normally one of my favorite months of the year (Christmastime is second to none!), this year December also comes with the promise of mock exams and a family-less holiday. I’ve been working to deck my flat out in holiday spirit, complete with twinkle lights, an advent calendar, clove and cinnamon scented room spray and an overt Merry Christmas sign hanging on my door. Additionally, I have done the service of annoying my flatmates with the looping of Christina Aguilera’s, Mariah Carey’s and Nat King Cole’s Christmas albums. Christmas is, without a doubt, my favorite time of year. For me, it’s the one thing that justifies the cold weather. I deal with frostbitten ear lobes and fingertips because I know that it’s an indicator of holidays approaching, and I love holidays: gift giving, the scent of Christmas in the air and roasting marshmallows by the fireplace. Sadly, the reality has hit me pretty hard today now that I’ve realized that Christmas without my family is not much of a Christmas at all. If I’m being intellectually honest with myself, staying in Europe for the holidays is a bittersweet decision: the chance to experience Christmas on my own and learn to construct my own version of the holidays will inevitably be a new an interesting experience. In contrast, family is ultimately what makes Christmas for me. Though I may be fortunate enough to wake up in London or Paris on Christmas morning, nothing is quite the same as waking up in your home and having Christmas breakfast with the clan.

Despite the bit of sadness I’m feeling on that front, there’s something else that’s looming as December gets closer: mock exams. I’ve already finishing my formative essays for my classes which is quite a relief, but a couple of my classes also offer mock exams during the last week of Michaelmas Term. We are given one question and one hour in which to write an essay response, a task that is intended to simulate the actual three-hour, three-question exam at the end of Summer Term in 2010. I’ve found myself looking through seven years of old exams in an effort to find trends in question topics and create a better understanding of the questions that might be on the exam. The idea that my entire grade for a course can be based on three hours  and three questions is a bit insane to me. Additionally, LSE doesn’t offer re-sits on exams, so if you’re a bad test-taker or things don’t go your way during those three hours of your life, you are effectively screwed. Fortunately, I’m a pretty good test-taker, but I think I may have forgotten the physical pain involved in writing for three straight hours. Even if I come prepared, I can foresee my handwriting fading into oblivion as the two-hour mark approaches. That being said, this mock exam will be a good indicator of how quickly I can get my thoughts down on paper and will be part one of my exam prep process. I’m planning to set aside a few hours a couple of times a month to pull three random questions out of a hat in a timed situation. I think understanding the length (in terms of having to keep your hand physically moving) as we well as the relative brevity (three hours to write three substantial essays) will be a good concept to grasp to prepare myself for Summer Term.

That being said, I’m off to get a start on my day and my school week.

Here’s to Week 9, penultimate week of Michaelmas!

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