I’m aware that this entry is long-overdue, but it seems to have been lost somewhere in the chaos of moving countries and starting Erasmus all over again in Spain. In fact I really can’t believe that just a few weeks ago I was in Vienna, wondering if the rumours that Erasmus students simply cannot fail exams were really true.
Before going away, I must’ve been told a hundred times to “make the most” of my time in Austria and, taking this to mean that I should travel, party, and generally treat the semester as an extended holiday, I have to admit I didn’t get through all that much work. Since my courses were run entirely as lectures, there was very little interaction between me and my tutors and no coursework to keep track of my studying. So with the return to Uni after Christmas came the sudden realisation that exams were just two weeks away, and I still had about 15 books per course to get through.
It was around this point (after 4 months of living there) that I finally paid my first visit to the library – and I am glad to say it was also my last. Just getting inside the place takes a good half an hour itself, since no bags and coats are allowed to be taken in. This means that you have to: 1) Go to the front desk to scan your ID card and request a locker key. 2) Find your allocated locker outside and leave in it your coat and bag, and then 3) Carry the entire contents of your bag loose in your arms while trying to find a seat in the reading room. I’m telling you, it’s enough to put anyone off ever going inside, but given that the majority of books can’t actually be withdrawn (except on Fridays) and the rest have to be requested online 24 hours in advance and picked up from a terminal at reception, it really is the only way of getting hold of any of the set texts.
While my flatmate rather unhelpfully kept telling me he couldn’t wait to see me again when I’d have to take September re-sits, a good friend of mine came to me with one of her many pearls of wisdom…
“Instead of studying for finals, what about just going to the Bahamas and catching some rays? Maybe you’ll flunk, but you might have flunked anyway; that’s my point” – Jack Handey.
So by the time exam week finally came around we had all but given up on that last-minute cramming, and spent more time than we really should’ve showing my brother around the best cafés, sushi bars, and Irish pubs. But don’t panic; this story has a happy ending. You see, most tutors in Austria will give you the option of writing essay, or taking either a written or oral exam as your final assessment. If you have enough time to go over your grammar 50 times, take the essay. If not, then remember that the oral exams last no longer than 15 minutes and you’re not going to be marked down for bad German as long as you can get your point across.
In other words, I’m afraid I won’t be seeing Adrien this September for re-sits, and I’m glad that my last few weeks in Vienna were lived in much the same way as the rest of term: eating sushi by the tonne and downing mug after mug of Earl Grey at the old Stammtisch. So thanks, Nataša, for that priceless piece of advice.