All Quiet on the Academic Front

Article published on Jan. 28, 2008
Article published on Jan. 28, 2008
The University of Sorbonne, my humble abode in the daytime, is almost void.  There is no sound of carefree student life, no lively conversations in the Cour d’Honneur, the courtyard, and no students passing swiftly down the corridors. Life seems stopped, or at least slowed down. What is it?

There is one explanation for the mournful atmosphere of Sorbonne: the exams. It is the period of the partielles, the toil and misery at its peak. It is the time when your courage and stamina is put to the test. It is the time when you finally have to face yourself and the unfinished business with your studies. It is battle against time, your physical needs, and eventually the whole world (that is how it will feel like when after two hours of sleep you sit down to study for another exam).

Exams are not only time for emotional and physical rollercoaster; it is also time for philosophical contemplation. Now like countless times before you pose yourself THE question: To study or not to study? Is it what you really want? Wouldn’t you rather drift into the nearest cafe for a café crème and a crispy croissant? Usually at this point you are so well in the hypnosis that you abandon everything and run out to the freedom. Of course, you always regret it the next day.

This year I had decided to take a new course in my life. I decided to stop being always late, I decided to stay awake and conscious during lectures and not to stress too much. Well, I failed in all except the last one.  I was very laidback and easy-going the first three months. You can imagine the outcome for the fourth month…

For difficult times as these all students have their own ways of surviving. Psychologists would call them the defence mechanisms. The first and the most used one is denial: Noooo, I don’t have an important exam tomorrow, I can always stay for one more drink in this cosy bar. Then there is intellectualisation: You start to rationalise how exams are not that important, how they do not measure the profoundness of your personality, your life experience and most importantly - your social intelligence.

The most difficult but the most effective one is delusional projection, you project all your inner anxieties on other students and start seeing them as your enemies, they are the origin of all your misfortunes, they persuaded you to go out last week, etc. etc. If you can manage that you will stop feeling guilty but you will probably end up having no friends. So yes, the student life is no treat. By the way, if you know any more of these handy mind manipulation tricks, please let me know, I’m desperately in need!