Semester Exams

The next two weeks are entirely dominated by exams, plus a palaeontology / micropalaeontology test which got announced on short notice, because too many people want to get into the zoology class. Tomorrow I’m taking the test, Tuesday the chemistry exam, Friday crystallography, the following week physics and mathematics.
Even though I’m rather good at palaeontology, I had to learn for this test because here the absolute grade isn’t as important as the relative placement – in other words, one wants to leave as many people behind as possible, to ensure getting into the class. However, studying for palaeontology is taking away time I meant to invest into chemistry, which is the exam I have the least chances for passing to begin with. At the beginning of the semester, I would have thought that role fell firmly to mathematics, but chemistry is twice the workload and just more than my brain appears capable of handling. I somewhat regret registering for the chemistry exam now as it will use up one of three attempts for taking I have – guess I will just give it a fool’s try on Tuesday and if I fail, I’ll spare the other two attempts for next year…

I’ve written before about the effects depression has on the brain: it alters and destroys synaptic connections in the brain which then have to get re-connected again (through therapy). I really feel the difference between now and ten years ago – I tire much more quickly of learning and have a harder time remembering facts. When working on long-term projects, like writing a paper, it doesn’t create too many problems because I can take breaks as I want and the result depends on continuous effort rather than a moment’s “genius”, but I struggle with preparing and sitting exams. After about 90 minutes, I need a break for several hours, and even though I still have two weeks to go, “learning fatigue” has already set in.
The sad part is knowing that ten years ago, I easily would have excelled in classes where now it takes an effort to be “merely” good. And I know that it could be worse, that after all I still manage to keep pace – but there is a lot of frustration still, and I am constantly afraid that from the outside it looks like I am procrastinating, and I am afraid that I will be judged by the professors and other students, because they are not aware of my background story.

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