The two weeks before Winter break I spent studying International Business Law for at least 6 hours a day. I knew that to pass the exam I would have a slim chance. I talked to my advisor and she said that once I get a certain number of credits, I could start working ahead by taking some of next years’ classes this year. If I were to fail International Business Law, not only would I not be able to work ahead, but also I would have to repeat the class next year. So I studied, I made vocabulary lists, I reread; I ate, slept, and breathed International Business Law (in Spanish).
Exams here are a much bigger deal than they are at most American universities. The exams usually count for at least 50% of your grade. The entire class takes the exam at the same time in the auditorium, spaced every other seat and in alphabetical order. We can’t have backpacks, cell phones, any electronic devices, books, nothing but pens and ourselves.
I was the first in the class to finish. When I handed in the test my professor asked me if it went okay even without the Spanish-English dictionary he said that I could bring. I answered I hope so, and left as quick as I could to calm down with the usual coffee and chocolate croissant while I waited for my friends to finish. It felt as though it went well. I knew I hadn’t excelled, but I was confident that I had at least passed.
The rest of my exams went well, and even felt easy. I celebrated my last night in Barcelona and headed home to be with family for the holidays. Grades were to be posted on the 21st of December (with the time change I would get to see them on the 20th). I waited a couple days out of nervousness. To pass I needed a 5. It was all I hoped for, a 5. This was not a class for me to go for the best grade in the class, if I barely passed I would be extremely proud for successfully completing not only a complicated law class, but one taught in another language.
I got a 4.3.
Within a few minutes of seeing my grade I was already in the car on the way to Staples to buy a notebook to start studying again. I had saved a study guide on Google and so I spent many hours during break reviewing so that I would be ready for the make-up exam. Luckily, we are given one extra chance.
I got back to Barcelona on Sunday afternoon, and in class on Monday my friends asked me how my break was. I answered that although it was great to see my family and friends back home, it was a shame to have to study. They couldn’t believe that I had actually failed. So one of my friends took out her computer to have a look. She told me that it’s possible to fail the exam (but no lower than a 4) and still pass the class if the overall grade averages out to be a 5 or higher. The page loaded and there it was:
A 5.1: Aprovat (Passed).
I studied for nothing during break. I reviewed for hours while I could have spent more time with family, friends, or resting. But to not have to take the exam I thought I would, is worth the lost time. Welcome back to Barcelona.