The Nature of Exams

Alexandra Hoadley looks outside for exam inspiration.


So…the scratching of library pens has replaced the screeching of swifts outside, the long library sighs the gusts of seaside air. Yes, it’s exam season. I’m sure most of you reading this have gazed longingly out of the library windows for at least 5 minutes (every hour, or make that every ten minutes), thinking why on earth am I trapped inside just as the sun is starting smile and beam on the beach (authors note: yes it has been pretty rainy too, that’s Falmouth for you!).

Our native bluebells on campus

Yet summer is coming! Bluebells are nodding at the bottom of campus – the perfect place for a lunchtime revision break. Walking past the stone wall where bold snowdrops gave way to jaunty daffodils and verdant ferns unfurl in the spring, to the sea of blue. I have only seen the real sea once since coming back to Falmouth due to the fun of deadlines/exams – but our native bluebells (hyacinthoides non-scripta) never fail to remind me that there is a bigger picture out there than portraying how gender politics played out in modernist literature, or how animal geographies has affected our view of nature. Joint honours joys.

But hirundinidae – the family name for martins and swallows, which always sounds rather like a magic spell – have flown here from Africa. The tide still conducts our waders back and forth foraging in Penryn harbour, as boats switch between floating majestically to lying apologetically on their sides in the mud, asking, like a tree in winter, for us to look away as they’re really not looking their best. And even in the rain, things are growing! I can fit far more than 9 daisies under each foot on many patches of grass, so spring has more than sprung. Small tortoiseshells have gone from eliciting squeals of surprise from me, to quiet smiles of familiarity. My housemates are less than thrilled that I would like to survey moths in our garden (small area outside our student house).

There are plenty of other wild flowers to keep your eyes open for on campus – such as these red campion and blue speedwell

So even though it’s crummy right now, and my eyes are always heavy, and my brain cannot fit more references into my head, and I wish I knew how Arthur Conan Doyle took useless things out of his head to make room for the useful, it will be over soon. We will be diving in the sea like seals, hiding our chips from seagulls, singing round campfires and walking our coastline scanning for divers soon. Although right now I need to get back to modernism…..

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