Archive for the ‘Academic’ Category

And the result is…

without comments

This seems a good time to make post No. 2 to the blog, if I’m going to keep things up.  Today was a pretty momentous occassion for me and my fellow engineers at Bristol.  Today was results day.

After spending the day biting my nails, going on a long walk to pass the time and generally getting rather anxious, the email finally came in: results had finally been posted on the noticeboard in my department.  A race across Bristol on my bike (at least it stopped me biting my nails right down to the quick) and almost storming into the building to get to the results.  And there it is.  A first!

I must admit I’m pretty jubilant; to think that the five years of hard study (the four here and the one before) have paid off so well!  Still can’t quite take it in properly.

Anyway, a toast to all the engineers today: we can all be pretty damn proud of what we’ve achieved over the last few years.  Bloody hard work but I hope everyone can say that overall they’ve enjoyed it and had a good time at Bristol.

Written by Benjamin

June 18th, 2010 at 7:49 pm

Posted in Academic, Bristol

Tagged with ,

Is Done

with 2 comments

My good friend Chris and I were talking recently about eschewing the instant gratification thought-diarrhoea of Facebook statuses and Twitter feeds and re-lighting our old blogs from back in the day, when people let the world know their every thought in whole sentences.  Generally a once-weekly splurge to the world was sufficient; if you were approaching a daily post it whiffed a bit of too much self-interest.

Today I realised was the perfect day to start again, not least as I’d popped a status update on Facebook telling my contacts with the taciturn “I’m done” that I’d sat the last exam of my finals.  Indeed, the die is now cast and I await results day to see what four years (plus the false start I suppose) of hard graft are worth.

I must admit, the sensation was strange having finished.  As in previous years, I felt the brief initial wave of elation, which quickly subsides to an anti-climatic “I want to go and file my notes into folders, have a nice cup of tea, and nap.” Partying is for later, particularly this year as I’ve finished a few days before my classmates so I have to keep quiet.  In fact, all I have done so far is get home, moved the hillock of laundry from my room to the washing machine and listened to a whole heap of music.

The realisation of finishing the degree hit in a bittersweet wash of slightly manic laughter tinged with the sadness of feeling a chapter closing.  All the effort is about to be weighed and judged, anticipating results while saying a lot of goodbyes I imagine, which is the hardest bit. It’s nothing new of course: leaving school, college, the gap year, Selwyn, Valencia and now here. They are times to stop and take stock before carrying on, taking a breather and looking back on the view behind.

Before this gets soppy or anything, I’ll sign off.  With the tradition of the days of my first blog, I’ll sign off with a musical note (that wasn’t meant to be any sort of pun).  Today’s seen a whole tranche of old, nostalgic tracks being played, and plenty of guilty pleasures (Alanis Morissette’s “Thank U” or N-Trance’s “Set You Free”, anyone?).  Anyway, the track I put forth today — with the bonus these days of a direct Spotify link, a new feature for this blog — is Roxy Music’s “Mother Of Pearl”.

Update!  Chris’ new blog is at this new address.

Written by Benjamin

June 2nd, 2010 at 4:53 pm

Posted in Academic, Bristol

Tagged with ,

Exams and Public Paella

without comments

This time I write to you not from an airport departures lounge, but from the middle of the first examination season here.  Revision time, like the departures lounge, is one of those points in life that no-one likes to be.  One is here, waiting for the next step (flight or exam) whilst trying to find something to do, whether that be ruffling through notes or browsing duty-free (despite being on an intra-EU flight).  I wouldn’t go so far as to say revision time is killing time (ha! I’d like to say it were), but it’s definitely a limbo of ill-ease.

Each time I find myself facing exams, I notice certain characteristics of my approach.  Procrastination has become refined; it’s no longer a random process of finding a distraction, I now mentally select what I will do to break the revision.  Here in Valencia, that involves going for a walk to the greengrocer’s (fruit is healthy! It’ll help in the long run…) or making tea in the microwave (kettles aren’t usual items here, at least no-one seems to have one) amongst other things.   Another choice of course is writing, which when you’ve been scribbling sums for hours is a blessed relief.

A lot of the exams I take involve a multiple-choice test as part, if not all of it.  These things I don’t like for many reasons, the main one being you have no way of proving you know something about a topic even if you can’t arrive at an exact answer.  They’re fine for testing “bullet point” facts, or perhaps even quick calculations of fundamental quantities, but to test and probe someone’s knowledge is impossible.  The ones I’ve faced here are negatively marked and designed to catch you out with real red-herring answers.  The idea is to pick the “most correct”, so several could be correct but not the whole picture.  Added to that there is the subtlety of language used.  My fault has always been not to read the question properly, so throw in language doubts, and there’s a real problem.

As a relief from exams, the other day with a couple of friends I took the Metro line I live on out of the city into the surrounding villages and countryside.  I’ve got to say it was a blessed relief to escape, if just for the afternoon!  To be walking along the sleepy streets, through the dead town square, reaching the edge of the village and continuing into the farmland and orange groves was just the thing I needed.  Picking the odd orange or clementine here and there from the trees or the ground and smelling the rich, sweet aroma of the fruit in the air definitely lifted the spirits.  Between mouthfuls and with hands sticky and dripping with the fruits’ juices, which, perhaps because of the situation, seemed much sweeter and tastier than usual, we were checking for an irate farmer with shotgun.

Whither will the road take us?

Whither will the road take us?

"Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clements..."

"Oranges and lemons, say the bells of St. Clements..."

An odd encounter in the town at the end of the line, Rafelbunyol, were the smoking remnants of fires laid to cook paella, en-masse.  Not just one, but there were at least a couple of dozen smouldering heaps of ashes and bits of log all in a line, surrounded by discarded rice packets and bits of spilt paella.

Written by Benjamin

January 18th, 2009 at 6:50 pm