I Skipped a Pub Quiz to STUDY!! (Aka: Taking the GRE)

If you have been keeping up with the Erskine blog, then you might have noticed that I suddenly disappeared last week. Hm, you might have thought to yourself, where has she gone? She normally puts up a blog post about every other day. And now it has been almost two weeks!

Rest assured, I did not suddenly fall off the face of the planet or get swarmed by a herd of angry kittens! Instead, was attacked by something even more deadly: the Graduate Record Exam. In case you are still blissfully unaware, the Graduate Record Exam (GRE) is a four and a half long test required as part of the application process for a large percentage of graduate schools in the United States. In other words, it is a super big, important test that I have to do well on if I want to keep going to school.

Here in the UK, no one had ever heard of the GRE. I told my friends in class, at church, and in my hall that I was going to take the GRE and that I had to study. Their response: stare at me blankly and ask what the GRE is. So I tried explaining to them that it is like the SAT for grad school. Still nothing. And I have been standing around all week wondering to myself wondering what kind of strange world do I live in now where no one has ever even HEARD of the SAT or that GRE?? Do these people live under a ROCK?? And then I thought to myself… No standardized testing? Maybe I should live here for good!

Studying for the GRE was at best dull and uninteresting. Normally I like a good study session where I can really feel like I am working hard, but then, normally I am not studying abroad in Scotland! My dad made a deal with me that if I were to study hard for five days in a row and have absolutely no fun he would pay for me to go out to a nice dinner after the test. The problem was is that there are way too many fun things to do in Scotland! I realized I had hit a whole new level of dedication when I skipped a pup quiz to study!

Actually, I lied to you just a lit bit there. Sorry! (My GRE study guide would say that was a peccadillo- just a small sin! 😛 ) There was one part of studying for the GRE that was fun: the GRE vocabulary flashcards. In order to improve my vocabulary for the test, I ordered a box of flashcards containing the top 500 vocabulary words appearing on the GRE. For about a week before the test I carried those notecards with me everywhere. I flipped through them in my bed, I studied them on the way to class, I agonized over their definitions on the elliptical. My challenge was to memorize as many of the words as I could before I took the test.

The fun part of this story is how helpful my Scottish friends were with this goal. Tiffany, my roommate, started quizzing me on the words in our dorm before we went to bed. Then my friend Elisabeth stepped in and dedicated two evenings in a row to painstakingly go over every word and definition with me, carefully stopping to make sure I really understood the words and could use them in context. The last night before the test my friend Naomi came over to help me with the last few words I needed to practice. I will never forget how these sweet girls gave up their time to help me prepare for my test!

Naomi came over the last night before the test to help me review my vocab cards! :)

Naomi came over the last night before the test to help me review my vocab cards! 🙂

The morning of the test I thought I was going to die. Literally, I was sure of death’s eminence. This mainly stemmed from the fact that I had to get up at 5:45 am in the morning! As I am not meant to get out of bed before 9am, this was a real challenge. Tiffany and I took the 6:20 am bus to Edinburgh and arrived just past 8:30. She went to the coffee shop to study for her math test and I went to the test centre to take my test! Although I was also sure I was going to die of stress or, alternatively, fall asleep during the exam, I managed to make it through alive.

After I finished the test I decided that I deserved a reward. I LOVE to reward myself, and generally reward myself for basically everything that I do. So I decided to reward myself for completing the GRE by getting a professional hour-long massage. Let me tell you’ll something right now: that was the BEST HOUR of my ENTIRE life! Anybody who is reading this blog and has never had a professional massage should drop their computer right now and go get one! I am fairly confident that I am addicted, this stuff is better than crack!

And before you make some ridiculous comment about how I don’t know if it is truly better than crack, because I have never tried crack, let me tell you something. Recent research has found that oreos are probably more addictive than crack. I may not have much experience with crack, but I certainly know a thing or two about oreos!

Want to read about how OREOS are less addictive than CRACK?? Here is the article!


Made to…Work?

Whew! It’s been one of those weeks here at Erskine. No, exams have not yet arrived…but, yes, if you were to have observed the daily doings of an Erskine student this week, you would likely have seen some sleep-wearied eyes and have heard an incoherent mumble or two regarding a deluge of tests and papers. Not that tests and papers are a bad thing…they are, of course, tools vital to the andragogical learning experience that is college. But when these glimmering opportunities to demonstrate how much knowledge we students have eagerly soaked up during the previous weeks arrive all at once…well, let’s just say that that all-too-necessary necessity, sleep, is greatly missed.

When one looks back upon such a week, however, the leisure time which one often takes for granted becomes a gratefully-welcomed blessing; and the opportunity to simply clean, rest, and hang out with friends is extraordinarily satisfying. Incidentally, the subjects of calling and work have come to mind often this week.

You see, in the midst of my writing of papers and preparing for tests, I listened to a podcast titled “What Are People For?” (which is free on iTunes, by the way) in which Briton Wood, the RUF leader at USC, examines our calling as human beings in light of Genesis 1. He made the striking point that work, in the creation account, is not a result of the Fall. Instead, Adam and Eve were given the task of tending the garden while they were in perfect communion with God! Certainly, our work and our ability to work well are today tainted by the consequences of the Fall. Even so, an understanding of work as the good purpose for which God made us ought to change the way we in which view whatever work God called us to.

I love these words of Martin Luther’s on the topic of work: “The world does not consider labor a blessing, therefore it flees and hates it, but the pious who fear the Lord, labor with a ready and cheerful heart; for they know God’s command and will, they acknowledge His calling.” A Biblically-shaped view of work, then, ought to transform our approach to our daily labor from the performance of some dreadful, obligatory drudgery which must be completed in order to reach the weekend into the excited, joyful living-out of our calling. Such an approach to work is only possible when we view work as God’s good gift, given to us that we may glorify Him through it…realizing that by doing so, we are living as He made us to live. Which, though not the easiest way to live, is unfailingly the best.