Zac Turner

Year Abroad. Part 12: The Exam Period

Zac Turner

Given my previous experiences of France, I should have expected this to be anything other than straight forward. However, after two weeks in England over Christmas, any nightmarish recollection of French administration had clearly been washed away. My exams started on the 3rd of January, Happy New Year indeed. So, while fellow English students continued to enjoy their new presents and recovered from potential two day hangovers, I was on a plane next to a man with a divine right over armrests. Unfortunately, elbow room was not the first issue I had encountered this day: a rush through airport security behind a German emptying pockets that would have made Mary Poppins’ handbag jealous, before a dash towards the gate through Stansted’s new, and extensive, duty free had left me more than a bit dishevelled.

Being back in Marseille at 12 o’clock in the afternoon however was nice in its way. It gave me time to hike across Aix carrying 20 kilos on my back in the midday sun in a parka that I couldn’t fit in my luggage before crawling up four flights of stairs and entering my room. Fortunately, with my hall being full of French students back for exams, getting back into the swing was easy with all that bustling pre-exam energy around. One thing that is baffling me however, is my neighbour. Having lived next door to her for 3 months and having only heard her on four separate occasions in that time, I can only say that I’d love to join the party that she’s currently hosting. Chair moving, phone vibrating on desk intermittently, even the odd sound of something being plugged into the wall. Whatever she did over the break clearly animated the corpse that she had been. Lovely girl, not very chatty.

So, to turn to exams. I have six in total, two of which are oral literature exams. However, until tonight, I didn’t know one of them was tomorrow. You see, three weeks ago, our teacher said he would email us the date of this exam, but he didn’t. In fact, if we hadn’t reminded him after our four-hour written exam, which, I might add, took place in a wooden benched lecture hall and for which they hadn’t registered me (oh France), I think he would have forgotten. This one should be okay though. It’s my other exam I’m worried about: third year classic French literature. Yeah, go on, take that, you like Rousseau. More fool me. Without any past papers to give me an indication of what to expect, nor any online resources to give me a push in the right direction, I very much feel like I’m shooting blind into a dark room. So, desperate, gasping for anything that could tell me something about The Dialogues of Jean-Jacques Rousseau, earlier, I turned to Wikipedia. I typed. I searched. I clicked. The page opened: “It has been described as Rousseau’s most unreadable work.” Brilliant. Thanks for that.

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