Tab Guide: Surviving the Pains of Post-prelim Life
No exams equals no stress right? Wrong.
Isn’t it funny how this myth emerges only in Summer term, along with the conspiracy theory that post prelim living is made up of endless days of basking in the sunshine? As though throughout Michaelmas and Lent term the whole of Cambridge was invariably zen. Next joke, mathmos.
I know what you’re thinking. How hard can it be, right? I don’t have exams, so I can’t have a care in the world. You want to tell me to stop complaining and take a look at what the first year of a REAL degree looks like. As an English student, I am more than used to such harrowing accusations.
English, History and Classics students are subject to such abuse on the daily, and it seems as if the university was for some reason keen to heighten this divide between the humanities and the ‘real’ subjects (ha ha, haven’t heard that one before) by dressing up the curse of prelims as a blessing.
While I am incredibly grateful for the lack of exams in the approaching weeks, I would like to explain why post prelim life is not just one big pub trip (although the pub is, of course, an essential part of my weekly schedule).
With the (‘minor’) stress of prelims out the way (thank God) and the emergence of the sun, the continual desire to get outrageously drunk on the backs becomes, quite frankly, overwhelming. The first catch for a white girl like myself is the sun…
Like the sheep I am, I follow everyone into the sun without SPF of any kind (take that, mum) and proceed to burn. Instantaneously. I also begin to develop the alcohol dependency that comes with post-prelim living, as we drink excessively, purely ‘because we can’ (highly recommend the Cambridge Beer Festival for great vibes and a lovely mead). My advice to any prelim students aiming to avoid meeting the bitterness and wrath of exam candidates is that you suffer these catches in silence. Any sign of burn will be sadistically met with the competitive ‘well at least you can go in the sun, you certainly can’t get burnt in the library!’. Fine, I’ll just drink more to drown the pain of my blistering sun-burn.
Worse still, our supervisors KNOW that our immediate instinct is to slack, so their immediate instinct is to prevent such slacking. And how better to go about this than by imposing a drastic increase in work load? Just when the sun has finally come out. Wonderful. Again, it is the curse of prelim students that we must grit their teeth and smile through this pain to all of our non-prelim friends.
Yet with more work does not come more play. The lack of nights out becomes all too conspicuous as exam stress begins to pervade the lives of those with no exams, which then translates into strange ways to fill unnecessary nights in the library with everyone else (refer to me writing this very article).
To top it all off, the end is not even in sight. All that is in sight is the time when exams will end, libraries will empty, nights out will begin and the essays for prelim students will JUST KEEP ON COMING. Who said being a prelim student was easy? The only advice I can offer is to take as many shortcuts as possible when the time comes and definitely try to prioritise fun for the last few weeks of term.
But there is one upside to all this. When the fun does finally start again – which is luckily very, very soon – prelim students will be the only ones allowed to complain for the first and last time in their entire university careers! To all my fellow sufferers, I say, get ready to do some SERIOUS complaining.
Plus, let’s be real, we were always the best at juggling a little bit of work with lots of play. So bring on the end of exams, because we are MORE than ready.