An Entrance Exam, Half a Year in the Making

So. I’ve not posted an update on the site in a long, long while. As one might guess from the title of this post, my excuse is that I had been, until recently, preparing for an entrance exam for nearly half a year – that, and the fact that I am a lazy sod. Whatever you think of my excuses, I care not for I am here to give you, the reader, an account of my recent adventure to the city of Joensuu. But first, I’ll say a few (paragraphs of) things about my studies.

I started my studies sometime in late December, but I started seriously focusing on improving my note-taking skills and going through George Yule’s The Study of Language (4th ed.). I slowly went through the book over January and February, finishing it after about month-and-a-half of effort. During February, I also went to some pointless training program for unemployed people because I had been told to. After that had finished in early March, I decided to start studying seriously for the entrance exam. Once the books arrived, I almost immediately got to studying.

It wasn’t particularly easy to be reading three different books (Montgomery’s Ways of Reading, Munday’s Introducing Translation Studies, and the newest edition of Yule’s The Study of Language) parallel to each other since I had never actually read much on the materials covered by the books, nor had I ever taken notes for a test outside of a classroom. I kept taking notes (every single damn day) until I had gone through everything the test would involve; I finished in mid- to late-April. After that, I just kept going through the test area and the notes until the week before the test.

The last week before the test was probably the hardest, since I could not get myself to regularly look at the books nor the notes anymore. I thought that it would just be best to try to relax a little bit before leaving for Joensuu on the 25th of May. I was also a little nervous about the drive there, and about the slapdash fixes applied to the car I would be driving there with. After days of slacking and being a nervous wreck, it was time to leave.

I left home a bit after 1pm, but I didn’t make it out of town until 2pm. The trip was going smoothly for a good time. Well, as long as you can ignore the violent shaking of the steering wheel when driving above 80km/h and the constant pull to the right due to old tyres. Eventually, I reached a very wide road, and at the end of that road I noticed a line and large vehicles.

I drived up to the line, waited for my turn, and then asked what was going on. A fireman informed me that a truck was being lifted from the ditch, and that I would have to be taking a detour to keep going. I shrugged my shoulders, thanked the man, and started backtracking until I reached the start of the detour.

Having to take a detour was pretty annoying, but I just focused on getting back to the main road. Each time a car passed by, a cloud of dust would end up covering my sight. I was somewhat concerned by that, but nothing thankfully happened due to the dust. The detour felt like it would go on forever, and at many points, people just drove aside and let me pass them. Maybe they had no idea if they were going the right way? I was no different, but I pressed on regardless.

Towards the end of the detour, the line of cars lead by myself, we reached a more open area with some housing. The road was still gravelly, but I didn’t put much thought to that. On the right side of the road, there was a very deep, very steep ditch. Up ahead, there was a curve to the left with some other cars coming from the opposite side of the road. As I entered the curve and planned on turning, I started losing control of the car; the gravel underneath, for some reason, made the car start sliding. I instinctively took my feet off the paddles and focused on regaining control of the car. I was turning the wheel left and right in a panic, trying not to fall in to the ditch and avoiding the oncoming cars. I somehow managed to regain control without hitting anything and got out of the curve. I was relieved and in shock, but I didn’t stop until I reached the midway point of the trip. I ate at the midway point, at a city called Iisalmi, before I got back to driving.

The rest of the trip was fairly event-free. I did see some fairly silly town names on my way, though (for example: Pöljä (“Stupid”)). Oh, and I saw a road that was set to 70km/h for no good reason. Who let the Swedish road engineers all the way down there? Whatever the case, I arrived at my hotel after 8pm.

Thankfully there was still someone at the reception when I arrived, since I had no idea where I could drop off my car. The hotel had a parking hall, so I paid a little bit of extra to get it parked there. After that, I walked around the area to familiarize myself with my surroundings for a little while before getting myself something to eat. When I was done eating, I went to bed.

I woke up at around 6.30am the next morning, got my camera ready and went walking around the town. I took pictures as I walked around in the quiet, yet safe-seeming streets, and eventually found my way to the university.

I went through the area to make sure that I would know exactly where to go later on in the day. After being satisfied, I decided to go back to the hotel to drop off my stuff before getting breakfast. Of course, I had the most healthy of breakfasts: pizza.

I entered the pizza place right when it opened, but I noticed that a class of pre-schoolers had come in before me. I went on to pay for my dining and dug right in. It was interesting to listen to the adults trying to guide the horde of rowdy pre-schoolers as I ate. It must’ve been fairly taxing to do something like that. Whatever the case, I finished with my breakfast and left for the hotel once more.

At the hotel, I figured out where I could park my car until the exam was over, and then checked myself out of there some time before the exam was to begin.

I parked the car appropriately, bought some water, and went to wait for the exam to begin.

While I was waiting for the exam to begin, I was worrying my head off. My throbbing headache didn’t make me feel any better. I probably should’ve tried talking with someone to ease my mind, but I didn’t really think of that before the exam began. The summons eventually came, and everyone got seated. The test was laid before me, and after the instructions had been given, I started tackling the questions.

To sum up how I felt about the test afterwards: Reading comprehension was actually much more difficult than I expected due to having to select sentences that “fit the story”. Grammar was also fine, but I was just utterly horrified when I got to the part on Ways of Reading; it involved analysis of a story and a poem. I did my best, but I can’t say that I did too well. The application of Yule’s materials went a bit worse than I was hoping for. Finally, the Munday portion ended up going fairly poorly as well due to me having focused on the wrong information. No matter how the test ends up going, at least I got rid of that stressful experience. With the test done and returned, I decided to leave for home immediately.

After having done everything necessary, I left for home, at around 5pm. I had just sat at an exam hall for three hours, and now I was going to be driving straight back home. It was a dumb idea, especially when I noticed that I was starting to doze off after a few dozen kilometers. So I decided to fill the tank. I felt dead tired as I filled the tank, but as I was leaving, I felt somewhat refreshed… and then went ahead and drove for 350km in a row, without stops. It was really stupid, but at least I made it home in one piece.

With all the traveling done on that front, I started to worry about my upcoming (current at the time of writing) travels to my friend’s wedding in Ireland. But that’s a story for another time. Besides, it’s not even finished yet; I’ve still got a few days to go.

Stay tuned for the update on my adventures to, in, and from Dublin.

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