Katie Smith sees the light in the new term scheme.

I’m writing this in an attempt to distract myself from the Week 10 blues. And I have a tiny suspicion that I’m not the only one feeling like this – almost everyone seems to have scheduled their yearly meltdown for this week. Unfortunate, but unsurprising, since it’s the week of multiple deadlines, not to mention that exams are now approaching too quickly for us to carry on pretending that they’re nothing more than a myth or a vicious rumour. To make matters worse, you now need to don at least five jumpers to take the edge off the cold – and don’t forget your night-vision goggles if you’re planning on being outside after 4.30pm.

In all, smiling students are suddenly becoming fewer and further between, mysteriously replaced by stressed ones. This would probably all be a bit easier to handle if we had a reading week. (Incidentally, “reading” week always struck me as a bit of a misnomer, since in my experience not much “reading” actually took place – but the chance to escape St Andrews’ three streets and recharge a bit before facing the rest of the term, with any reading counted as a definite bonus, was still a valuable addition to the semester.)

So yeah, most of us (including me) have been bemoaning the new semester layout a fair bit, and admittedly this whole no-reading-week-and-exams-before-Christmas thing is pretty hard-going; but – and correct me if I’m wrong – did we not all take a vote on this? Wasn’t there a survey two years ago that we filled out, probably as a bit of procrastination, of which the outcome was that, on the whole, we would prefer a non-stop term with exams before Christmas as opposed to the previous system where we were all zooming frenetically between home and university every few weeks? Well, then, maybe we’re so embroiled in essay stress and exam anxieties that we’re blind to the advantages of this new semester layout, and are seeing the previous model en rose.

Yes, it’s difficult to start getting excited for Christmas holidays when first there’s an exam obstacle course to get through; but think how wonderful it will be to have a Christmas free from revision (or, in some cases, free from the guilty feeling about not revising). And then – joy of joys – a whole month full of relaxing, of reading books you actually WANT to read, of travelling, or of debauched (if that’s what floats your boat) partying followed by totally guilt-free, luxurious pyjama days.

So chin up everyone. Just power through your meltdowns – soon the term will be over and you’ll be sitting on a train home, feeling carefree and faintly smug, gazing out of the train window at a world that is suddenly a whole lot more beautiful again…


Katie Smith


Image by Antonio Litterio