Friday, July 26, 2013

7 Quick Takes or Too School for Cool Volume 15

It’s been a good while since I have joined in on Jen’s linkup and it’s about time I’m back.  My month long hiatus from Friday’s posting was full of studies and little breaks to spend time with family and friends.  This past week, on the one hand, has not been too eventful in the fact it can be summarized by my nose being in a book.  But on the other hand, it has been full, not of events, but of the simple daily occurrences leading up to one big special event.


Saturday, after a day of studying and packing, my ever faithful summer school roommate and I caravanned to school and moved into our dorm room home for the week. By the time we got things situated we both were exhausted and lacked all motivation and desire to pick up one of the many books taunting us from the bookshelf. Being the dedicated students we decided to lounge in bed and talk and being nerds we eventually came around to our studies before we fell asleep.

A view from my study spot of my old dorm on campus.

Completely unrelated, but then somewhat, this scenario reminds me of a statement a friend of mine made in undergrad. After staying up till the wee hours of the morning debating some theory or such, this lovely pair of roommates decided they had come upon a key difference between men and women. Men, they posited, were thinkers and would stay up till four a.m. without hesitating to discuss philosophy. Women, based on my saying that my roommate and I did not stay up late discussing the topic, did not. Women on the other hand would only stay up that late to talk about frivolities such as boys and shoes. I am sure you can guess that this theory of theirs was not graciously received by most of the table and was debunked in a quick stating of the fact that they could not base an argument about the entirety of masculinity on themselves.  Dear boys were far from the norm. Well, boys, now my roommate and I do stay up discussing theory. And now, dear reader, you know as well.


Come Sunday morning the pressure of the impending written exam was in full force. To make matters worse, I had caught a cough and sore throat from B and felt horrible. We woke up early and made our way to the campus Starbucks for breakfast and studying. It is weird, but I have always enjoyed studying in a way.  I love the sense of accomplishment as you outline information and realize how much you really do know and understand. Not to brag, because it’s such a coveted trait, but I have a unique talent for making study guides. Combined with my great ability to stress out, sleep in awkward places and positions, and take notes while having a conversation in the margins, I can be a student when I am all grown up. But I digress. Knowing my tendency to just keep studying and stressing, my roommate proclaimed that I had to start getting ready for bed at midnight whether I wanted to or not, she was going to make me go to bed. Thanks to her and my cold I was happily in bed reading my notes one more time by midnight.


Monday morning we dragged each other out of bed and to the showers. Got dressed and headed to Starbucks for the necessary caffeine to get through the morning. At 8 a.m. we picked up our folders at the Theology building and walked over to the computer cluster. We made a pact not to look until we were seated and ready, we took deep breaths, said a quick mental prayer, opened the folder and began.

I was not surprised by the questions asked. Of the five I felt that I could have if necessary answered all five, but I had to choose three.  The questions on marriage and culture were a given. I knew my material on them both well. The question on the connection between the Old and New Testaments of the Bible was calling to me, one chapter I decided not to read because time was running out held some supportive information that I thought they would notice was missing. So I skipped it and struggled a bit in writing about Pope Benedict XVI’s theology. I have often wondered why it takes so long to write a paper and yet, given the restraints of a test and a time limit, I can pound out more in an hour than normal. Four hours and thirteen pages later it was time to print this labor of love off and hand it in.


Promptly after handing in our written exams we met up with my roommate’s boss at the Log Chapel on campus. 


This chapel is a replica of the original Log Chapel that was among the first buildings on the site of the Notre Dame campus. It also is the burial site of Father Badin, the first priest to be ordained in the United States. The Chapel is rarely open to the public. In undergrad I had attended mass there often, but never had the opportunity to walk around it and enjoy all the treasures it holds. 



Father said Mass for us, which was a beautiful experience. It was so intimate and the homily was geared just to us. It made me think of what it must be like on your wedding day to have the priest speaking directly to you about this step in your lives.
After we went to a favorite Italian restaurant for pasta and gelato, took some well-deserved naps and discussed the idea of studying for our oral exams.


Tuesday brought more studying. The unique part of this studying was that with knowing what was on the written exam you kind of had a hint of what the professors may want to talk about.  Such as the questions you did not answer on the written exam and clarifying the things you may have written in a state of panic and therefore are so deep that they are unintelligible even to yourself. So I read the chapter I skipped when studying for the written and brushed up on the doctrine of grace.

Roommate: Define grace.
Christina: Grace is what got me through four years of graduate school without going insane.
Roommate: You pass!
Together: Yay!

The other unique part of studying for the second half of an exam is feeling like you know you are going to pass the exam, but doubting that feeling means anything. After the written exam, I knew I was in a good spot. In fact, if it had been for any other test I would have sat back and felt like I had secured my A, but there was that dread that I would walk into the oral exam and they would ask me something that I could not answer. There also was this dread because my advisor had told us in the preparation for the exam that if you get to the oral and they start asking you questions that were not on the written test, you can sit back, relax and enjoy the fact that they think you have passed and just want to have some fun and see how far you can go. This having fun part and having to speak off the cuff about things I had not studied for was almost more terrifying than answering the questions about the written exam.


Dress for the job you want.
So getting pedicures was not a completely superfluous thing. Right?

Enjoy your breather from these rather long takes? 
Now it’s back to the books.


My oral exam was scheduled for Wednesday afternoon, so after lunch and explaining all my topics to my roommate as I straightened my hair, I walked over to the Theology department’s building. As usual I brought my study guide with me so I could look at it to calm my nerves while I waited. I stopped in the restroom and before I could place my study guide in my purse for safe keeping I dropped it right into the toilet. I was done studying.

Waiting is nerve wracking. The couple professors telling me not to worry and wishing me well did not fully ease my nerves. Even when the professors on my panel started off by asking questions that were not on my exam did my nerves settle down. In my head I kept telling myself, they are going to pass you, they are doing just what your advisor said, they are going to pass you, RELAX, just relax. Some of it was fun conversation and some questions were ones that I had no clue how to answer or I had never thought about before in my life. Unfortunately they wanted to talk about my least favorite topics and I never did get to answer the question on Scripture, but it was all ok. After the exam they asked for me to go into the lounge across the hall and they would come and get me. Oddly enough I do not remember everything the chair said when he came to see me.  I just remember, “Not only did you pass…quite articulate.”

I passed!

I wanted to cry right then and there but I kept it together to thank the panel for everything and get B on the phone. And then I couldn’t help it. The tears came. It was such a hard experience and now it was over.

My roommate and I packed up our room (she passed too!) and I stopped by an old friend’s house to visit and meet her newborn daughter before heading home. She was so very right; nothing adds to joy like holding a newborn. That and having your little brother bow before you declaring you, “Master,” and making so many people you love proud.

It is so good to be done.

Have a blessed weekend!

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