Samantha Carr provides some guidance to the pre-exam crunch.

“Will it ever end?!” we despair, as we approach our twelfth week running of the semester with no blasted reading week this year. I’ve discussed it with many people, usually at the library. This venue is background noise in my writing and life I’m afraid, and can only apologise for mentioning it so frequently. I’m not alone out there, though.

“How can we see the light?” we ask ourselves. I have to be honest; I don’t think we will for a while. Deadlines are worryingly close to exams, leaving many of us with a sliver of time left to finish up essays or class tests and jump head-first into our final bout of exam revision. A stressful few weeks face us all. There’s been talk of the low we’re all feeling by this point, how this new semester simply isn’t working out for us. I don’t want to spill too much anger on the new layout, though I won’t deny that I definitely think it’s turned the pressure up before Christmas this year. I just hope we all get through the next few weeks without being complete miserable sods. I believe, quite firmly, that it’s the little things in life during this dreary time that can really make a difference. I recommend to you to do the following:

  1. Buy grub! This is the time of year to stuff our faces anyway, isn’t it? It’s cold, we’re in Scotland, let’s eat lots of warm fatty foods and hide away inside and not do exercise. We are supposed to be staying in to study after all.  Meat pies are not salad, but they do have a secret way of making you feel better about yourself. Also, if you’re a coffee drinker, I recommend Starbucks or Costa for a warm-up drink, especially with the Christmassy flavours out in both of the coffee shops. Indulge! You won’t be spending much on alcohol, after all. Try Costa’s Crème Brulee, or I’ve heard the Gingerbread Latte causes great delight amongst Starbucks loyalists.
  2. Try not to hate your place of work, or at least change it up every once and a while. Find a person to join you on study sessions because it helps and it’s healthy to have a whinge binge in the midst of final essays and exams. Butts Wynd and the University Library will be open 24/7 for the exam period, though I would recommend getting days in sooner rather than later, while you still have a chance of there being plug sockets or seats spare.
  3. Take breaks, see daylight. It really is refreshing to take an hour or so out to remember that you’re a functioning person who can have light hearted conversation and feel fresh air. Do not forget this: daylight. It is important to be outside – even if it is cold. There will be days ahead that involve the sun going down two hours after midday. Enjoy the natural light we get, and try not to feel too guilty about blasting the heating on when you’re feeling sullen in a dark living room at 5pm.
  4. Tactful procrastination. No matter what, try to do an hour’s work before you mess around. Then, if necessary, allow procrastination. Hit Facebook, loosen up with some Overheard in St Andrews (it’s impossible not to find it amusing); check a news website, Reddit, Online Shop (try to resist retail therapy buying and keep to looking!); whatever takes your fancy and make you feels better. But then get back to it. Time is ticking and our lovely winter break is almost visible behind exams, essays and dissertations. Short and regular breaks, in my opinion, create minimal mind frazzling if a long study session is in order.
  5. Work hard, think ahead. I admit it, I have discussed on a number of occasions my whopping beef about the workload and time compression this semester, and I admit I think it’s changed my moods drastically this year. But that isn’t the point anymore, is it? The point is we can, will and bloody have to do this. Will you believe in us with me?

Ultimately, what I think we all need to do is pull ourselves, and each other, together. As St Andrews students we must attempt to remain strong and plod along in our cringey and wonderfully united manner. Now is the crucial time we should aim towards positivity, or at least start being realistic and realise that it’s definitely going down no matter what over the next month. So remember: treat yourself – to treaties, avoid spending too much cash before Christmas. Rest dear; a town of student zombies is a horrible vision we need to avoid giving off to the rest of our fellow residents. And let’s grasp the hard cold fact that we cannot change this semester’s schedule. Yes, let’s voice our opinions, and if we really believe it, seek alterations. But now is real, and now is full time dedication to the fear. Let’s tackle our immediate future degree problems. Take it on the chin, wrap up for the wind and rain, and we’ll crack on for the final stretch of our new semester.


Samantha Carr