25 March 2014

I must admit that I find the British accent very sexy.

Or at the very least extremely alluring.

So I’m sitting by myself in the café at my sports club – yes, I go to a sports club. Please don’t judge me – having a full-on revision panic attack (more on which later), when this group of ladies comes in and sits down at the next table.

A wave of curiosity washes over me. Which is entirely ordinary – I am fascinated by people: how they interact among themselves and with their external environment. And this group is quite a striking bunch. Clad in bright colours, each sporting a different style of clothing, all exuding confidence. Genuine confidence of a kind you only acquire in later life (I’m thinking mid-thirties).

Then one of them starts talking, and boom! Not only does she speak perfect English (bilingual-style), but she also has the most wonderful British accent. Not quite the Queen’s English, but thick and proper enough to make misplacing her accent a crime. Either she has spent a considerable part of her (likely early) life in England, or she has a true knack for adopting accents.

For minutes I sit. Eyes fixed at my laptop screen. Hands poised over the keyboard. Still. Mesmerised by the smooth flow of the British accent from the next table. The apparently indifferent next-table neighbour actually straining to catch every word, every syllable.

And, once I’ve had my fill of her British accent (thank you, female stranger), I return to my revision.

Now, about that revision panic attack.

First of all, apologies for exaggerating. It wasn’t a panic attack. Merely a flash of panic intense enough to focus and stimulate. I’ve had panic attacks before (twice, to be exact), and today’s revision-induced panic is not of the same magnitude. Nowhere near.

What brought on this mini panic thing is a close friend of mine who – earlier today – asked me if I was “on course” with revision. Two words: on course.

I moved to answer her (on the messaging app). And while my brain went over the past two weeks’ progress and the number of days left until Day One of examination period, the question hit home: Am I on course?

I typed in some irresponsibly vague answer citing lack of exam schedule (to be released this Friday) bla bla and pressed ‘send’. But the panic had set. Am I on course?

How does one know if one is on course with revision? The economist that I am, I imagine this piece of knowledge (whether one is on course) to depend on three factors: 1) the amount of revision time left, 2) the rate of revision, and 3) the amount of material left to be revised before time is up.

I know 1). I can have a guess at 2). I have no idea about 3).

Hence the panic.

I came back to my laptop and proceeded to pull up all the information I have on all the three Economics modules I am revising for. (In case you’re wondering, I have 5 exams: 3 econ – in student lingo – and 2 French.) I went over all the course programmes, revision guidance, lecturers’ tips, and recent past papers to suss out how much more I need to know in order to be able to do the exams.

And turns out it’s quite a lot.

I know it’s only 25th March, and exams won’t begin until 1st May. But what if I have all my exams in the first week? The exam schedule is released this Friday, but between now and Friday are 3 full days. If I’d learnt anything at university over the past 4 years, it’s that complacency is the most dangerous enemy.

So I started devising a revision programme for each of the three modules. They’re in no way comprehensive. But they’re indicative – and that’s good enough for now. I know what I have to do next. I know how to prioritise. I know how much more time I need to allocate to revision (than I already do) on a daily basis. Another thing I learnt at university: if you don’t have enough time to do something, allocate more time. Don’t speed it up. Doing things in a hurry is no better than not doing them at all.

Armed with the above information, I feel the panic slowly subside. Expectation is important, all the more so that it’s about something so subjective as revision (subjective in the sense of being completely dependent on the standard you set yourself – a student aiming for a First will revise significantly more than one hoping for a Pass). And I’ve revised my expectations to more realistic levels.

Do I still want a First? Yes. Do I aim to provide perfect answers to every question? No. Do I aim to know all the material inside out? No. Aren’t my responses inconsistent? No.

You don’t need to know everything to do well in an exam. You just need to know enough. And if you don’t have time to revise everything? Well, that’s OK. Time is limited. As with any limited resource, it must be allocated. Priorities must be assigned, and expectations adjusted to reflect your priorities.

I’ve spent the past 4 hours this afternoon revising, and 3 hours this morning. Can I revise more? Yes. It’s only 5pm. Will I? No. I need to revise. I want to. But not all the time.

Val’s list of priorities as of 25th March:

  1. Revise.
  2. Exercise.
  3. Write.
  4. Socialise.

I have my Battle Beat class at 5.30pm. Then my dance class at 6.30pm. And I’ve been writing this post since 4.45pm. Today’s activities reflecting priorities so far. One golden star for me.

After dance class is another matter. I might go see a friend. Or, if that falls through, revise some more. I’ll cross that bridge when I come to it.

If only I’d learnt all this 4 years ago when I was revising for my first university exams, then my second, then my third… All the anxieties, all the frustrations, all the fears that could have been avoided.

Well, as they say, better late than never!

Gotta rush to go kick some air now,

Until tomorrow,

Val

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

18 March 2014

According to CardioTrainer, I burned over 1,000 calories today. Which is a lot, by my standards.

So, apart from the 5.7k outdoor run this morning (see how proud I am? I’m still boasting about it), I did a one-hour Battle Beat class, which is basically a boxing style super intense class where you kick, jump, and punch a lot, and continuously. (It’s really tiring. Oh trust me it is.)

Then another hour of Danxercise which, after Battle Beat, was like a walk in the park. A very fun walk though. One hour where I get to do all the silly moves, shake my head, shake my [insert body part of choice], and just laugh and not worry about how ridiculous I look. Because everyone is doing the same. It’s a great stress relief.

Well, actually, both classes are great for relieving stress. Battle Beat has you concentrating so hard on your body movements you invariably end up not thinking about whatever it is that’s stressing you out in the first place. And Danxercise just makes you feel silly and happy, sometimes enough to make your stress and worries disappear.

Sometimes, though, it doesn’t. I actually use my Danxercise class as my stress gauge. If I feel better during (and after) the class, my stress level is in the green zone. If I feel better at various points during (but not after) the class, my stress level has gone into yellow zone. And when I do not enjoy the class at all is when alarm bells start ringing in my head: code red, code red.

That’s what happened last week actually. I was so stressed I couldn’t enjoy the dance. And realising how stressed I was in this particular instance just made me even more stressed: the vicious cycle of self-fulfilling stress! Ha.

As you can see through my cheery tone, though, this week I had the most amazing fun in my dance class. Stress level back to normal.

Now are you curious to know why I was so stressed and why I no longer am? No? OK.

Oh I’m being ridiculous aren’t I. I’m obviously still in my silly, happy mode.

Which is good. Very good.

Maybe I tell you more about why this is later.

I’m sure you feel sufficiently bombarded by unwanted information about my day by now.

Until tomorrow,

Val

p.s. Sorry, couldn’t resist. Did I tell you a pigeon pooed on me during my run this morning? Yes. That totally happened. I just shook the excrement off my arm and kept running. Such a dedicate (and totally gross) runner.

p.p.s. Yes, I scrubbed my arm really, really clean afterwards. You can feel less disgusted now.