Back at uni, in the middle of each term we had a week off (in the middle of the first and second term, anyway; third term was entirely off.) They were called “Reading Weeks”, though nobody was quite sure why. For the students they were a nice half-term holiday, a break from our full, demanding timetable of sleeping, procrastinating over coursework and not doing dissertation work to go off skiing (or, say, invade Moscow). For the uni, they similarly provided much-needed respite from toiling away scheduling three whole contact hours per week and studiously avoiding putting anything useful on WebCT. Stories existed of students in other departments, people studying real subjects, who actually used Reading Week to read, but all the people I asked doing real subjects didn’t get reading weeks.
The GDL doesn’t have those. The GDL has “Assessment Weeks”, in which you read. And read and read and read. And, in the case of last week, write the EU essay, revise for and then sit the EU exam. The former was a bit of a disappointment, both to me and (I fear) the assessor; 1500 words isn’t an essay, it’s a footnote, and there’s no space to develop any real arguments or deviate enough from the script to show creativity – the only art to it is in working out which parts of the short, raggedy history of the EU to condense down and shoehorn in. But I wrote it, I’m proud enough of how it’s written and how many points it managed to touch upon, and ultimately it’s a piddlingly small part of the assessment.
Revising for the EU exam, a substantially less piddling 7%, was something else. I’m one of those appalling people who gets by without ever really revising for anything,* so structuring a way to remember about 150 important EU cases turned out to be a challenge – ultimately involving a lot of listening to lectures (which are wonderfully lucid – our EU/Con & Ad tutor-lecturer is fantastic), a spreadsheet compiled by an old L4NL bro studying in London, and a piece of flashcard software called Mnemosyne, and a lot of Skyping fellow GDL students.
[18:27:00] Lear: Would it count as cheating if we took a mars bar into the exam?
[18:27:10] Brosencrantz: is the mars bar 10% bigger?
[18:27:14] Lear: yes
[18:27:19] Brosencrantz: maybe
[18:27:22] Brosencrantz: I’m going to do that now
[18:27:30] Misha: i’ll bring Belgium margarine
[18:27:37] Misha: cube shaped
[18:27:58] Lear: I’ll bring some Cassis
[18:27:58] Roger: I’m going to bring chiquitas!!
[18:27:59] Budge: I’ll bring a French film on DVD, but only released 8 months ago ]:)
But all in all, it sunk in decently and I think the actual exam went pretty well. There were only a couple of questions where I felt my prep hadn’t served, as well as a couple of bits which I felt I just hadn’t prepped because we hadn’t really covered them, but took a swing anyway. EU law is wonderfully common-sense, and the generally good picture I got of the entire subject from a week of book-grinding gives me hope for Equity & Trusts, the one GDL component which I don’t feel I have any grasp on (though I share this with several classmates and, seemingly, the tutor.) We adjourned to the pub; I know I have far too little contact with the GDL crowd, but they’re still great fun, and I will miss them a lot when all this is over.
Right, week off is over, back to the grind…
* Until last year, where Louis and I basically taught ourselves the entire Peninsular War (writing some 40,000 words of thoroughly obscene notes in the process. I’m hoping to repeat this with E&T.