Preparations, goodbyes and questions to ponder…
This period of the academic year reminds me of the differences between research students and other students, due to the elaborate preparation and writing of exams. As research students, we look on as the undergraduates and taught postgraduates prepare for exams. It is always a slightly stressful period for students, but early and good preparations help students perform well most of the time.
I had the privilege to invigilate some exams that were conducted in my department. These arrangements are made for some students who have various reasons for requesting for a special (individual) room, and I can’t help but sympathise with them. The exams are always culmination of a semester’s work, so it’s very important they do well.
From such moments, I get to listen to the students and discuss a lot about their experiences, while also sharing my own experience about exams I wrote in the past. One of the things I always try to do is to put their mind at rest, so they don’t become apprehensive about their exams. It also gives me an avenue to take a break from either my experiments in the labs, or from office.
It’s been one of those periods where a lot of unrelated events occur almost at the same time, and I’ve learnt to just enjoy the moment and move along. So, from series of meetings with new undergrad students that will be working with me on some of my projects, to meetings with supervisors, attending seminars presented by a colleagues, I also had the pleasure of joining with my colleague to celebrate his birthday.
Cakes and sweets seem to always be in abundance in the department during this period, which helps me get by, as I don’t eat that much (I do forget at times to eat lunch – it’s bad, right?), but these lovelies always ensure I get enough energy to aid my work. It was also one of those moments when we had to wish our colleague goodbye, as she’s moving to another city to work. I always find it hard to say goodbye, especially to wonderful people, whose smile brightens up your day.
I mentioned some voluntary work I do for the University in my previous blog, and one of such I got engaged in recently was a web chat to prospective international students. It’s always helpful to have someone allay fears prospective students have, especially those that have never left their countries before. Since I was in their shoes some time back, I understand the need for these constant communications to answer any questions they might have.
We do get some funny questions, though, like – ‘are we allowed to walk out of the campus?’ (which of course you can!) I can understand why someone might want answers to questions like this if you are unfamiliar with a country you want to study in.