Wednesday, 5 November 2014

How to Survive Your First Week Back

Three days might have passed since I gathered enough willpower to drag myself out of bed, slip into a so-not-Vogue-worthy uniform and mentally prepare myself for the first of many days back at my compulsory environment: school. Oh yes, fifteen lessons and counting are a tiny fraction of the many lectures that I'll be obliged to sit (and sleep) through within the space of a single term, yet the ones that I've already attended are definitely more than enough. Seriously, I would quite happily end the working week on a Wednesday and dedicate the two days following to indulging in a bath filled to the very top with pleasure: in my dreams, of course!

Having complained about the then-approaching second term at school before it commenced on Monday morning, please don't give me another of your dramatic eye rolls in my direction as I return to the subject, offering comments sharper than the scratches that my beloved Barticles left on my hand last night. Beyond the realms of the playground, I work full-time as a non-paid, professional moaner - as it comes with the territory, would you not expect me to speak my mind? 

Despite being reminded by my parents that moaning (e.g. frowning like the depressed Krusty the Clown) can cause wrinkles, I can't bring myself to suppress such a natural calling, which I constantly nurture and feed, letting my talents soar beyond the strongest control... The greatest joy of independent thinking!

Talking of which, my thoughts towards the first week of a new term are not the kind to make you settle into your chair comfortably; if you are anything like me, your skin will be crawling with the presence of a spider, frequently on edge and in the heavy depths of discomfort. Hell is not a word which many of us would associate as a positive thing - unless the Devil is a close friend of yours - so I can pretty much guarantee that you are missing out on anything remotely fun as you progress to different subjects (or units, as GCSE students like myself find), learning stuff that pushes you further than you have ever travelled before.

Studying for your GCSEs is recognized as a tough time by both those who are taking them and the ones who are lining up in the overcrowded queue until they get their turn - unwillingly. I've just restarted the first of the two year course so, compared to where I should have been at in Year 11, I could consider my current position as easy peasy, especially if it relates to my top two subjects, English and French. The work doesn't stretch me too strongly as a rubber band would, yet a panic nonetheless grips me if the word test is uttered by a teacher. Like the Titanic, I sink to the bottom of the ocean, drowning in a black sea of fear. 

Tests are literally a way of life in Years 10 and 11 as the pressure truly begins to stalk your whereabouts, but do I like them? No. Although I achieved an A* in my English controlled assessment last term, I hated every single moment that was spent in a computer room, sweat trickling down my back as I produced another word. The glory that might radiate from you after receiving pleasing results might somewhat ease the memories of struggle you endured whilst sitting the test, yet I wouldn't automatically declare that the panic was worth it. As professional moaners risk discovering at a point in their lives, it is never developing premature wrinkles - especially if a two-hour long Maths test was the cause! 

Anyway, the majority of tests are hopefully unlikely to haunt me until later in the term, which no longer distracts me from the main issue at hand: surviving the first week back. After having the time of my life whilst having luxurious lie-ins last week, I've landed back on Planet Earth with a loud, if not slightly painful bump. Ouch! My head is throbbing from the moment that I get out of bed each morning, despite extending my hours in bed by thirty minutes; as appealing as breakfast might be, waking up at 6am can never live up to the pleasure of trudging down the stairs three-and-a-half hours later during half term! Instead of being swamped with bags upon bags of shopping bargains from trips to inner city centres, I'm heaving with homework. 

Also, if it has even occurred to you, don't get me started on hunger - by ten in the morning, I could raid the canteen! In a classroom that is occasionally shrouded in silence, the peace is instantly broken if my stomach decides to growl like, well... a hungry lion! Unfortunately, my form is a Science lab which, if I dare to tuck into a bag of mixed nuts and dried fruit (believe me, it's the most exciting snack of the day), I would receive an automatic detention: no questions asked. 

As for other subjects, I can't exactly juggle writing essays with stuffing food down my throat, as desperate as I might be for a little nibble. While at home last week, I was in paradise: the fridge was mine for the keeping! Still, I doubt that many would find room in their squashed bags for a mini fridge - if there was a chance that it could work, I wouldn't think twice about bringing one with me!

Change is not often easy to embrace, particularly when you have gotten used to such a pleasant setting where you can settle into your comfort zone. One thing that I realized before going back this week was to not think too much about what was lying ahead, unless I fancied making myself sick at the potential prospect of sitting another Physics paper. Our imaginations are easily capable of going into overdrive which, once they have reached that point, can be beyond our control. Control is essential for keeping the worry woes away: don't undervalue it. 

Work and change might be your main distractions on the first day or so, but try to find time to relax, which can then have a positive effect on your attitudes towards school - or at least pose an incentive to get up in the morning. Despite its tendencies to bore me at times, I really appreciated the escapism that The Sims 2 offered me last night because it took my mind off the events of the day: I truly was in another world. If not relied on too frequently, distractions can actually have a positive effect on you. Rest is encouraged at all points in your education and working life, yet we can often forget to pamper ourselves. Don't let your forgetfulness deprive you of a much-needed escape!

Finally, the purpose of going to school is gaining an education, so we might as well embrace it during our time there. Getting decent grades might soften the blows from teachers who have despaired of your poor test results or many hours spent in a non-air-conditioned classroom: embracing is pretty much the only way that you open doors to success. It is expected of us to have 'down' days, which even adults face, but at least try your hardest most of the time - I like to believe that my hoping-to-be-a-C in Maths will make my lack of lie-ins worthwhile!

Survival is key in life, let alone in school. Before you know it, the first week will become the second, the third and so on, then Christmas will be upon you - let's hope it comes quicker than Halloween did!

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