Posts Tagged ‘ God ’

A Time To Dream

I love to dream.

Sometimes I imagine myself standing on a mountain, no one next to me but a great sense of achievement. I have pride, not the bad kind when you’re arrogant, but the good kind like melted chocolate, that I have climbed the highest peak, the tallest hill, and that I’m currently perched on the king of the mountains spying the world in front of me. I am seeing the bustle of the cities, one with them and yet apart from them, over everything with the sense of achievement, that I have accomplished a feat that will be shouted from the rooftops, whispered in the halls, and spookily repeated over campfires to young little scouts out on their first expedition.

It is possible, you know. It is possible to achieve your dreams. Possible to climb that mountain, possible to get that driver’s license, possible to write that story. There’s a story idea that has been kicking around in my mind like a loose pebble for months now, and for quite a while I have desired to type it out and lay it on an unsuspecting public like bird poop from the heavens, only nicer, more interesting, and less of a mess to clean from your cardigan. I could say that I haven’t done so because I am still in the army, where my effort is spent in defending Singapore from threats physical, psychological and possibly mythological as well (if Cthulhu appears, we shall fight!).

The truth is I have been fighting the great double-headed dragon, apathy and distraction. And by frozen peanuts, I think they are winning.

But I have a secret weapon. And I think that monster ain’t gonna like it.

Yes. This blog is back.

“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we boast in the hope of the glory of God. Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. And hope does not put us to shame, because God’s love has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit, who has been given to us.”

Romans 5:1-5 (NIV)

Picture taken from http://jedihawk.net. Used without permission. Tell me if you want it taken down, owner.

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A Cup of Exams with a Dash of Hope

Ladies and Gentlemen, that time of the year has come and gone – at least for me. The time where every one of us squares our shoulders, brace ourselves, and look ahead to our impending doom. The time where excuses are hurriedly invented in an attempt to escape the torture, mental breakdowns under the strain are common, and the stress leading up to it as well as actually undergoing it leaves you feeling distraught, fearful, depressed, and on occasion, murderous.

Despite popular belief, I am not referring to the Harry Potter 7 (Part 1) movie. I am referring to the dreaded curse that is exams.

All of us were students once. And unless you were extremely rich, extremely lucky, or extremely well-versed in playing truant, all of you would have done at least one exam in school. Some would have only done about 40. Others, around 100. The usual amount is often somewhere between 4917 and the number of times Taylor Lautner took off his shirt during the Twilight movies.

Including the times he wanted to rip it off, even when he wasn’t shooting Twilight.

It’s especially hard for us poor university students. Especially those doing law like me. Every single one of us aspires to perform with flying colours and score 7s. Every single one of us aims to smash every exam and assignment while mocking the stragglers, graduate with a HD, and go on to lead a highly successful and well-paid life as a lawyer/judge.

The truth, however, is far less bright and cheery. Many personal accounts by friends and colleagues within the UQ Law Faculty attest to claims that the subjects are extremely difficult. In fact, it was common consensus that for our last exam, Torts A, everyone’s marks were bumped up by 10% to prevent the majority of the students failing.

So, with that cheery thought in mind, I knuckled down to study for my exams, filled with such confidence that only a naive 17-year-old could hold.

I mean, come on. I still believe that David Beckham plays because of a love for the game. not the obscene amount of money.

But what I want to share with you, the readers, is what happened on my last exam. To give a little background information, this was a Torts B exam, open book, and worth 70% of our grade. No pressure. Our orders were to wait outside the exam venue until they called us in. The exam would start at 5.45pm.

I rocked up, feeling relaxed and confident. I even started chatting to some of my friends, discussing holiday plans. Exam? What exam? Bah, we’ll smash it!

Yep, life was good.

At around 5.30, a middle-aged man with a microphone began calling us in, reminding us that no entry was permitted without our Student ID Card. Those that didn’t have it would have to go to the UQ Student Centre and fill out an entry form (no, not to win a prize), and then return to the exam. No extra time will be permitted, and so on. The docking of precious time as well as the demeaning stares of the examiners, the UQ Centre staffers, and your fellow students would be punishment enough.

So, at the sound of the overweight man’s hollering, I grabbed my bag, pulled out my wallet, and opened it to find…

No Student ID.

I paused only for a second to double-check, looking up to meet my friend’s questioning eyes with a look of horror, and took off like the Batmobile to the Student Centre.

Or perhaps like the entire male gender when faced with the prospect of having to watch ‘The Notebook’.

Let’s put some things in context.For want of a better analogy (because I don’t watch movies much), remember Liam Neeson in Taken, where his character had to chase after a ship as it’s leaving with his kidnapped daughter? He had to run his heart out or else he would never see his daughter again. Well, my situation was similar in that I had to race to get the permission slip and return within 10 minutes, maybe even less, or else I would lose valuable time in my exam. And in a Law Exam, five minutes may been the difference between a pass or a fail.

But that’s where the differences end. Unlike Liam Neeson, I was not in my physical prime, but rather was a slightly overweight lad in skinny jeans and a heavy backpack. Additionally, I was not chasing after my daughter, but rather to sit an exam on time. But I was just as determined to get it.

Obviously, I must have misplaced my ID when I was replacing my cards yesterday, and I was thus up the proverbial creek without an ID. Now, the distance between the exam venue and the Student Centre would be around 200 metres. To me, it felt like an entire hemisphere away. Partly because I was stupendously unfit (the most physical activity I ever do was climbing a flight of stairs – and even then I get exhausted), and partly because my bag was filled with a file folder full of notes and a heavy textbook. Yeah, wise choice to bring it.

But finally, I made it to the Student Centre where thankfully I was the only non-staff member there. A guy in his early thirties sitting at his computer behind the counter asked in a dry voice: “What’s your Student Number?”

Lungs burning, I gasped it out, all the while trying not to collapse in exhaustion.

Slowly, the guy started to type, then turned back to me. “I’m sorry,” he said, speaking about as fast as a child who is learning to read. “What was it again?”

Recognising that perhaps my painful gasps could perchance have made my speech hard to understand, I repeated it.

Then, AGAIN, the man asked with the sluggishness of an injured turtle: “Sorry, 4-3-2 what?”

I said it out once more, swearing that I would disembowel him if he asked me again. I was convinced that he was doing it deliberately just to make me late, as punishment for not bringing my ID Card.

Finally, he muttered an “Oh, your exam is at 5.45” and strode off to retrieve the printout. Still panting heavily and now forced to wait for the Human Sloth to get the form, I decided to have another look inside my wallet. Here’s how my thought process went.

“Let’s see…Fifty bucks, my driver’s licence, my student ID, my…”

You’ve gotta be kidding me.

In the confusion of replacing my cards inside my wallet yesterday, I put my Student ID behind my driver’s license instead of in front of it, like I usually do. This meant that, when I opened my wallet to check my cards earlier, I saw my license and assumed my ID wasn’t there, when in reality it was inside all along. I let out a loud “DAMMIT!” much to my chagrin and the shock of another lady behind a computer. By that time, the staff member had returned with the now-unneeded permission slip. Catching sight of my ID card, he drolly commented, “Oh good, you found it.”

I didn’t have time to punch him as I stood up and bolted for the door, heading back to my exam venue. But the cheeky idiota even had the nerve to shout after me, in his mind-gratingly slow voice, “Don’t run! Walk!” I suppose that he thought that making kids late for exams and possibly ruining their lives was a fun thing to do.

Muttering threats under my breath, I started running back to the exam venue. To tell the truth, it was more like fast-walking / stumbling, on account of the fact that I had already used up my month’s supply of energy running there. My legs were cramping, my lungs were on fire, and I was sweating more than when I made sexist comments at a pro-women’s rights rally.

Apparently Popeye has a female counterpart….and she hits harder than a girl.

But somehow, through the grace of God, I arrived at the venue in time – they were still shepherding people inside. Usually, I would be ecstatic at finding my card and not being late, going as far as to be “…walking, and leaping, and praising God.” (Acts 3:8). Unfortunately, I only had energy to be doing the latter, though mentally I was thanking God to within an inch of my full brain capacity.

I stumbled inside, threw my bag down at the designated area and grabbed my notes, heading into the exhibition hall (it was an open book exam, don’t worry. I wouldn’t cheat – I don’t have the skills for it). And that’s when I found out that I wasn’t given a seat number, and as such, no seat. Without further ado, I swivelled around until I found the nearest examiner, and asked him where to get a seat number.

The examiner, a cantankerous old man who looked like he had much better things to do than to, oh, I don’t know, help people, pointed at the door and said “Get one from the guy at the door.” As I was leaving, he added a pointed “Obviously you weren’t listening!” I’m sure that he would have gone on talking about the state of the youth today and the rowdiness of pop music if I hadn’t walked away. But seriously, I wanted to inform him that I couldn’t have listened because I was off on a wild goose chase elsewhere. He probably wouldn’t have been interested anyway.

Oddly enough, he looked somewhat similar to this.

So, once that was all sorted out, I finally collapsed on my chair with my hair dishevelled, my top button undone, sweat pouring down my face, and breathing heavier than the monster in every scary movie when it’s right behind you. I think the girl next to me was giving me strange looks throughout the whole perusal period – either my sweaty and dishevelled demeanour and painful gasps for air made me look extremely handsome (very unlikely), or I looked like I was about to be sick (more likely). I was literally sweating all over my exam paper, so much so that I gave up trying to wring it dry after the fifth time.

In the end, though, I managed to get through the entire exam in one piece. In fact, I might hesitantly say that I would have done well. Apparently, adrenaline is a better boost than studying.

So kids, what have we learnt today?

  1. God, no matter what, can, and will, help you in your time of need. No real need to explain myself in this one: But for his help in (a) giving me the strength to stagger around the university, (b) making sure the student centre was empty, (c) allowing me to arrive back in time for the exam….and so on, I would never have been able to do as well as I would have, or even make the exam on time. Once again, all thanks be to God.
  2. The UQ staff, unlike the previous, will not. The staffer at the Student Centre moved and talked at the speed of the Flash…on sleeping pills. In fact, even his hearing wasn’t 100% – he was out to give me a hard time, I swear. And the old guy at the examination hall was simply despicable to me. If no one got the movie reference, I’m moving on. In summary, the staff at UQ do not care if you make mistakes – they will even try their best to ensure that your mistakes kill you off.
  3. Always check your ID card is in place when entering a University Exam. Self-Explainatory, again.
  4. Your parents will not be amused by your story of heroically making it to your exam on time. When my epic tale of adventure and bravery was regaled to my parents, I expected them to pat me on the back and compliment my perseverance, maybe even laugh at my lack of fitness. Instead, they gave me a lecture on how my disorganisation nearly cost me a seat in the exam. Problem is, they’re right. Bet this wouldn’t be a good time to tell them about the time I dismantled every pen in the house then…..

This story is one of me, though God’s help, overcoming adversity (my own disorganisation) and being able to sit the exam and hopefully doing it well. Unfortunately for my friend, he wasn’t so lucky. He forgot to bring his notes.

Do you have a bad exam story? Leave a comment and tell us about it!