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I want to break free

A Mayo man in Galway
I want to break free


Edwin McGreal

It’s Monday lunchtime in Galway as I write and I’m on the home straight with my college year. The next time I’m back in Mayo, my degree will, at long last, be over. And, I never thought I’d say this, but the end of my time in college can’t come soon enough. Maybe in a few weeks time I might be able for a more rational reflection on life as a student. How these days are the best days of your life, enjoy them while you can, or whatever college cliché you’re having yourself.
But, right now, I’ve certainly hit the wall in my degree year. Actually, truth be told, I hit it two weeks ago but assumed I’d get a second wind from somewhere, yet I’m still waiting for it. I’m sure I won’t get much sympathy and I’m not asking for any either. I’m merely asking for Thursday afternoon at 4.30pm to come along as quickly as possible and I’ll be finished my final exam, The Rise and Fall of the British Empire history module, quite apt with the week that’s in it.
This is, of course, in marked contrast to the mood I entered college in and the mood which prevailed for most of the year. I found my studies interesting, challenging and very engaging. But the last while has really dragged. A lot of that could be down to the fact that my thesis – on the Catholic League in France from 1584-93 – took up so much of my time and, I’m afraid, didn’t interest me as much as I’d hoped. That’s due today at 4pm and it will be a massive weight off my shoulders when that’s handed in. All of which should energise me for Thursday’s exam, in a subject I certainly found engaging. But the problem I know I have now is study fatigue. It is now over nine weeks since I had my last lecture. Since then I’ve been switching my time between my thesis and my exams, which are stretched over an unusually long length of time. Of course, this is great from a point of view of giving me decent time to devote to each subject, when you consider most run-ins from last lecture to last exam last only about three to four weeks.
But nine weeks of no structure outside of what you set yourself, nine weeks of self-imposed deadlines which, despite my best efforts, are never as strictly adhered to as actual deadlines and nine weeks of moving from books to notes to computer screens can fairly mash the mind. Don’t get me wrong, I appreciate college life is usually good to the participants. Exams are always the exception though, a couple of weeks of solitary cramming can test anyone. Nine weeks of such solitude takes it to the extreme. Sure, I’ve  given myself breaks. But, you can never fully relax knowing there’s work you could be doing. Come next week I’m sure I’ll be sanguine about matters. But for now, best to avoid me. A ‘do not disturb, cranky student’ tag would fit nicely.