Friday, December 30, 2011

Wrapping up the Semester

December 2011

Just like any other academic institution, UNC has exams at the end of the semester (yeah, I know – what’s that all about?!). It has been very interesting observing the differences between how UNC does its exams compared to other places such as Manchester or my secondary school (high school for you Americans!). The first major difference (and this is major) is that at UNC the exams are done before the Christmas break rather than afterwards, which is what I am used to after years and years of exams after Christmas. This does have its advantages (I have a proper Christmas for the first time since I was like 15 – luuuurvely!), but also its drawbacks in that everyone at home is studying for their various finals, and you have less time to revise. Not that I’m really complaining due the fact I will actually get a Christmas!

I had a total of three exams over the 10 days of the exam period, and I was quite lucky that they were pretty spaced out. I did hear some horror stories of people having 4 exams in one day which they had to rearrange. I was totally bewildered by the exam process at UNC – to say it was completely different to Manchester is probably an understatement! Firstly, as I have said before, there is no such concept as anonymous marking. Our names are written on all the exam papers, which in turn are marked by the professor of that class. So if you managed to piss that professor off in the semester, the chances are your mark will be affected as they would know who you are. Awkward right… Second biggest difference with Manchester is the fact that in exams one can get up and seemingly leave the room during the exam and then come back. During all my exams people were getting up to go to the toilet and fill up their water bottles etc. I was just astounded at this. The potential for cheating is phenomenal – anyone could hide notes in the toilets! Furthermore, the potential for copying off others is huge too. Exams are generally conducted in the classrooms the classes are taken, and so everyone sits next to each other. Added to this is the fact that in many of my professors fell asleep or left the room during these exams, so im so surprised more people arnt caught cheating to be honest. But then again, if the professor has fest the room I suppose they cant see anyone to catch!

Streaking at UNC in the Undergrad Library

Another interesting aspect of the exam period was the (sort of) party atmosphere of finals too. It seemed that Americans don’t really party throughout the whole semester (generally speaking here), and then suddenly went mental! The evening before every study day (that’s a day without any exams in case you didn’t realise…) there was some sort of event going on on campus. The two main ‘traditional’ events were streaking by students from the library around campus, and a ‘rave’. I missed the streaking as I forgot about it, but apparently it was a sight to behold! I did attend the rave with Lexi however, which was interesting, with a couple of hundred students filling the “Pit” in the middle of campus. With a DJ and proper lights was quite fun, although a bit mental with everyone packing into a smaller space jumping around like absolute muppets (ok, yeah I did join in…). the whole 15mins of the rave was ended with some good old collegiate pride in a rousing chorus of the UNC fight song (don’t worry, if you’re not at UNC you probably won’t have heard of it). Originally this rave was held in the Davis library, but due to ‘elf and safety (see what I did there?!) it had to be relocated to outside. Nice to see us Brits aren’t the only ones dogged by crappy bureaucracy…

The Rave

The end of exams was a drunken affair (obviously!) with me, Fiona and Harriet, joined by Lexie, going for a drink after our last exam (at like 11am…) and were promptly judged to hell and back by the waitress for drinking before 12 and not having any food. Sod it, we needed a bit of British culture! The next two nights won’t be dwelt on too much. Probably because I don’t remember them that much. I will say however that Lexi tried to match me drink for drink, and failed. Miserably… 

It was sad to have to say some goodbyes however, with Jess and Lexie from the Pritchard household studying abroad next semester in Seville and Edinburgh respectively. If you two are reading this – it’s been a blast getting to know you and hopefully we will bump into each other again in the not too distant future! Thank you so much for taking me in and helping me settle in at UNC and coming out and partying with me! I have to say I think my best memory of you two is crammed into the back of Lexis car singing (well, I'm not sure if singing is the word but we’ll go with it!) at the top of your voices to this song.  It will always remind me of you two crazy lasses! Furthermore, many of the Aussies and Kiwis I’ve gotten to know over the semester had to leave too, as their time abroad was only for a semester. Again, it’s been a blast guys with the nights out we’ve had together, stay in touch and give us a shout whenever you’re next in London/Manchester (if I’m there that is!!) – Because you know I will be to you when I’m Down Under!

Gonna miss these two mad Pritch-ers
Saying goodbye (to those who are staying)
With the Down Under-ers in Topo

It’s weird to have realised that I have spent 4 months in the States now. But I am definitely am looking forward to getting home for a few weeks and see my mates and my family. And eat some fish and chips and have a proper pint in a proper pub!

These pictures from the last week in Pritch were just waaay too funny to not put in (sorry John!)

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