Feckin goodbye

Hiya! How are you? I’m leaving town tomorrow, did you know tha’? Oh shi’, I’m even leaving the feckin country! Going back to me folks, that is. Oh, it’ll be grand, I’m sure.
I know my Irish voice is really bad. But no time to improve it anymore: Tomorrow around noon it’s going to be o-v-e-r. I’m going back home. What a day I’ve had! No wait, what an awesome year I had! I’m so happy that I took the chance to come to Dublin and study at UCD!
Let’s reflect for a moment. I came here in late August 2014 and the first semester started in September. Let’s be honest I didn’t really have the typical Erasmus experience (meaning you get drunk a lot, party a lot and learn nothing but bad English). The first semester was actually quite the opposite. I was stressed but happy. I took three English modules, two language courses and one German class. Except from the language courses(of which one was French – need I say more?) I absolutely loved it! I learned so much about Jane Austen (more than I imagined possible!), Romanticism and English Literature in general that there was nothing wrong with my head being buried in a book for the whole time. Seriously, people from the first semester must have thought me a real nerd with an all-time appearance of carrying loads of books around. Oh and when people asked what my plans were, I usually told them I had to catch up with my reading. Because back then I thought I had to do all the reading! Well, I still think that but this semester I didn’t really do it anymore. I didn’t bother, ’cause nobody else seemed to bother. I still think that I read more over the past few months than at other times in my life. Right, where was I? The first semester was great but busy. So I decided to take it easy this semester and I only took one English module(and didn’t read all the books I was supposed to. But, seriously, who can expect me to read books from that many male Victorian authors? I only read the good stuff. I read Charlotte Brontë’s Villette and wrote an essay about it. Which was challenging enough! Jane Eyre is definitely made of lighter material! I started Dicken’s Pickwick Papers, Collins Moonstone and had a look into The Secret Agent which bored me, sorry. Maybe I’ll give them another try in the far future. I wrote my exam about Henry James’ The Turn of the Screw which scared the hell out of me (I can also really recommend the movie adaptation The Innocents! Youtube has it.). In the paper I compared it to Elizabeth Gaskell’s An Old Nurse’s Story which was also really scary – I give you a hint: Both are ghost stories! Oh and I loved Christina Rossetti’s “Goblin Market”! Such interesting themes! I read somewhere that this poem can be interpreted as a story about sisterly love, criticism against consumption, rape, the pros and cons of masturbation (hahahahahaha – whaaat??), Christian redemption and many more. Anyway, let’s close this bracket!) So this was my one English module, as you can see it still pretty much occupied my mind. I took another German class with my fellow Irish students that are learning this beautiful language. It was actually quite interesting and I do like Christa Wolf. Then there was my one history class which was very interesting. I learned a lot about Irish history of the 19th Century! I can understand the Irish’s hatred towards the English a little better now. No, I just think that the English should have treated the Irish better, then I could love both countries in the same way. I’m only joking. Ireland wins either way, sorry England. They always have the advantage of having their own lovely language. This brings me to my second last class this year: IRISH. First I hated it, then I loved it! It was so complicated and mean to learn all the strange structures and pronunciation. But then it got easier and made more and more sense to me. I’ll miss the Irish language! Why can’t I continue learning it? The other day I got stopped on the street by an older Irishman. We talked a little and he told me to continue learning Irish (USE IT OR LOSE IT!). That would be great! But I suppose noone in Germany bothers learning this tricky language and I’m guessing in my beginner course I only had a glimpse on the comlplicated system behind that language and maybe I should be glad that I can’t continue learning it. Now to my last class. I totally loved (I can’t believe how many times I’m using this word, but it’s true!) my Creative Writing class! Again, I learned so much! I learned about how to begin a story and just go with the flow. I had so much fun inventing short stories for the sake of my teacher’s amusement. After all, this class was my only one that doesn’t count towards my degree which is a shame because I got a nice, fancy A. No, I enjoyed taking this class just for the experience itself. A few clues were: “Show, don’t tell!” or “Let the readers guess/think for themselves!” or “Dialogue is important!” or “Listing things can help!” I bet you appreciate these clues, don’t you?!
Next to my classes I had some good craig this year! I went to Temple Bar quite a few times, saw lots of movies (I really mean LOTS OF!), got around the country and city a little and I met loads of great and inspiring people! I met Jo Baker, author of Longbourn, the director of ONCE and BEGIN AGAIN John Carney, Holocaust survivor Tomi Reichental and interviewed the German author Judith Hermann. That was only this semester! Of course, I really l-o-v-e-d the good old Guinness! Guinness is good for you! Thank you UCD, cheers Dublin and slainté Éire! I will miss you all!

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Imagine

Imagine you’re in a big entrance hall and there are students buzzing and humming around you everywhere. It’s not like you don’t like students – you’re one yourself – but these students are in a specific mode. You can smell the tension. Some are excited, others nervous and then there are those feeling panicky or very worried. Welcome to end-of-term examinations! Today is the last day. I’m lucky, I only had a couple. But there are students who had to go through this process 6 times! What process, you ask? Here it is:
You arrive one hour early, since you weren’t sure if you could find the RDS straight away on your bike because remember, you’re not particularly good with directions. After you did get lost on the way once, you finally make out signs which tell you: UCD EXAMS THIS WAY and you happily follow them. When you’re there you find yellow-waistcoated ushers (Platzanweiser) in the gateway that tell you where to put your bike. Some students are already lurking at the buildings’ entrance, nervous-or-cool-smoking. Next to the entrance is a coffee stand and you think you’ll get a coffee after you’re done – zur BELOHNUNG (=as a treat) und zur Feier des Tages. However, now you enter the dreaded building and it’s just like last time: busy students e-v-e-r-y-w-h-e-r-e. You are one hour early, for X’s sake! It’s only eleven and the exam is not until 12pm. Maybe the others had the same thought about getting lost on the way here, but you doubt it. Most of them will have taken the bus. Most of them are full-time UCD students anyway and know how to get to the RDS. So what are they doing here, you wonder. One simple answer: It’s called last-minute studying! There’s not one single person not holding some kind of notes’ package in their hands, staring at it in a desperate way or gesturing with it towards another person, presumably one from the same course and discussing some last questions before the exam. Turning around, you can make out the same picture over and over again in the big entrance hall. Students either stand in groups or sit on the floor with their notes spread before them. Others sit on the few available seats or benches across the hall. You choose the edge of one of the benches right next to the wardrope counter where you will later pay 1€ to let them look after your bag while you sit through the exam. You take out your notes and go through everything you’re supposed to know for the exam. But you can’t really focus because of all the chatter around you. So you put in your earphones and listen to Ed Sheeran whilst last-minute studying. Since your exam will be right around lunch time you nibble at the apple you thoughtfully brought with you. From time to time you look up and about the hall, just to see if there’re any changes. Indeed the hall fills up quickly with even more students. Probably more Irish students who are used to the procedure already.
At a quarter to twelve, someone’s speaking through the microphone, announcing the doors to the exam hall are now open and if you want to give your bag to the wardrope, you should do so now. So you get up, swing your bag over your shoulder and approach the wardrope counter. Don’t forget your water bottle. Nor your student card and some pens and pencils. Now you’re fully equipped for your exam. Follow the mass of students to the exam hall. But make sure to remember your seat number you checked right at the beginning. In the middle of the entrance hall is a long board with lists of names pinned. There you had to find your name between all the Irish names. Once you nearly panicked when you saw your last name but a wrong first name. Then you realised it wasn’t really your last name but one l too much and your name was listed a few students down. Remember, remember your seat number. Whether it is 313 or 2119, it matters! You might get a wrong exam paper if you chose the wrong seat.

Settled in the right seat, the exam papers are given out at 12 sharp, no minute sooner or later. The person with the mic speaks once again and you hope it’ll be the last time you hear from him while concentrating on your exam. As you look down your paper you start hearing the scraping of pens by hundreds of students gathered in one big hall. Welcome back, smell of tension!