Thursday, July 06, 2006

Two down, one (or two) to go

I can hardly believe I’m already two-thirds of the way through my degree. Even if you add a year for a Masters, I’m still halfway through.

I didn’t do as well this year as I hoped I would. My only serious (and mercifully brief) ME relapse happened just before a rush of deadlines, so I missed one of them. Typically, I thought I could cope and didn’t flag it up with the right people, so I couldn’t get an extension. Bang goes 60% of a unit. When will I learn not to be so stupid about this illness? It’s a pain, it’s horrible, and I hate having to admit that it’s back to rule my life for a few days, or weeks, or months, or however long it decides to stay around for. Add that to a serious aversion towards asking for help (I’m only just getting over that in supermarkets, let alone in more serious situations), and the effect is similar to the metaphorical shooting oneself in the foot.

I don’t actually know exactly how I’ve done, because one essay mark (worth 50% of a unit) wasn’t given to us due to a lecturer’s strike, and I don’t have the results from any of my German exams. The entire university operates using computers, and yet my tutor does not get my German marks because it’s a different discipline to the rest of my degree. To my knowledge, there is no mechanism for me to get the same detailed breakdown of my German marks as I have for my Music (both subjects under the jurisdiction of the School of Humanities, incidentally), and yet loads of students take advantage of the option to take up to two units per year outside their own discipline. My tutor seemed a little affronted when I remarked that this seemed like a fairly stupid system.

Worst of all, though, were my performance marks - they weren’t good enough for me to carry on with performance next year. I was gutted. I hadn’t expected to do well in baroque violin; two years of ‘problems’ with teachers brought me to the point where I could hardly bear to pick the thing up, and I certainly couldn’t play it particularly well. Modern violin, however, was a different story. I came out of my exam feeling pleased with my performance (rare, for me) and reasonably confident that I had done enough to scrape the required mark of 65. I didn’t – not even close. When I finally got the comment sheet from the examiners, I couldn’t even see what I could have done any better. I have come away from the experience feeling inadequate, depressed, and got-at because I do not give 150% of my attention to performance. It will take me a very long time to get back the confidence in my own playing that I had finally started to develop. I can’t help but think that this cannot be the best way.

The other down-side of not being allowed onto a performance unit next year is that I will now have to do 100% academic units, which produces a killer workload. Being the third year, each unit will be harder anyway, and timetabling means that the majority of my units will be in the second semester, when I will also have to worry about all my final German exams. I’m trying to be proactive by doing some of the reading now (as far as possible) and by making a start on my dissertation so that a good chunk of the research will be done by October, but motivation is definitely lacking. In the grand scheme of things, I didn’t do too badly, but I feel absolutely battered.