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Wrapping up Semester 1 on Erasmus

28th April 2010

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When I returned to Denmark after two weeks in Russia I was confined to my bed for a few days to get over my long and enjoyable journey. Although after this rest and re-cooperation I knew I had an assignment to hand in and being in 'holiday-mode' made it the last thing I wanted to do!

After a slow start I had a frightful night, which made me ask 'what the fudge!!!' As soon as I turned my computer on I did what every student does, I checked Facebook. I was in the midst of updating my status when the horror occurred. I clicked send to update my status but it didn't work! So I tried to close windows explorer to try again and this also failed. After a few minutes of frustration I decided to perform the most technically advanced technique I know (holding down Control, Alt and Delete in order to get Task Manager up). This also failed! At this point I was getting annoyed with the laptop so turned it off manually in order to restart it.

When I tried to turn the laptop on again, to my horror and dismay, it came up with a black screen with the words: 'OPERATING SYSTEM NOT FOUND'. In a desperate bid to regain control I tried to restart the laptop again but the same screen came up.

My beloved shiny new laptop died on me for no apparent reason! What's worse is that most of my Russia photos (those not on Facebook) and a number of other photos were deleted along with my work (most of which were backed up).

At this point I did what any rational thinking, independent 20 year old would do at 5am (4am UK time); I called home! During all this time a gigantic spider made its way to the corner of my room closest to the desk. So I was trying to explain my problem to my computer-illiterate mum whilst attacking the spider by spraying deodorant at it. At this point the beast scurried at break-neck speed from one side of wall to the other close to my bookcase where I keep my cutlery and crockery as well as my coffee making facilities. Great improvement to the situation!

So I had no choice but to book the next flight back to the UK and arrived in Stansted the next day. The two weeks in Blighty waiting on the laptop at least gave me the chance to present family and friends with multiple gifts from Russia.

On my return to Denmark I continued with the essay. After a week and a half of writing it was done!

There was some confusion as to how we submitted our essays, as it was not stated on the instruction sheet. The tutor was new to the University of Copenhagen so was also unsure. After finding no answers, I decided to visit the Education Services office in order to find an answer. To their surprise the course was not registered for examination and so could not give me an answer straight away. Then after a day or two they sent out an email telling us that we can hand it in to that office and also that the maximum character count was 23,000 characters.

This caused me some difficulty as these new rules changed our instructions as to how long the essay could be. After sending a few emails to show my grievances (which I forwarded to the University of Leicester's International Office as yet no reply from them) I reluctantly cut the essay down and submitted it today.

After submitting my International Law of the Sea essay I had less than two weeks to revise Human Rights in the EU for my first-ever oral exam. We were told that the assessment would be on the textbook and the case materials. I hadn't done anything for human rights since mid-October just before the Russia trip and at this point I had read a few chapters of the textbook. I had not read anything in the case materials as yet (in fact I only printed off the case materials when I went back to the UK because I was not willing to foot the bill for printing an entire tree!!!).

The case materials spanned 440 pages, which seemed an Everest of a task when I started. After four or five days of hard work I was able to condense these 440 pages into 12 pages of summary notes. This was exhausting work but I was nowhere near finishing.

After this I frantically made revision cards. I organised and summarised the cases to their most minimum. This took another day or two, leaving another two days left to read and learn them. I had the cards to take in with me (we were allowed notes) but I didn't want to spend most of my time reading at them. I knew I would maximise my marks by talking with the least notes as possible. Still it was nice to have the safety net of the notes right in front of me.

On the day of the Oral exam (7th December 2009) I woke up early and got ready. When I got to the centre it was at 10am and the oral exams started at 12:30pm so I went to Subway for something to eat and rehearsed my cases in my head.

I then decided to check where the room was. In order to get to the building I had to pass some of the 'Hopenhagen' campaigners and attractions, which were to celebrate the global talks on climate change being in Copenhagen.
Five people turned up (including me) for the exam. I remembered at the start of the course there were at least fifteen of us. I found it funny how week by week people disappeared due to the quality of the lecturing we received. I didn't mind that these people left though because as my initials are NW I was always going to be last. At least with less people I wouldn't have to wait as long. However, these four people still collectively represented at least two hours of my life in this waiting room.

I walked into the waiting area in my suit and looked around the room. Everyone else were in jeans and t-shirts! I felt conscious about it for a few moments but I passed with the thought that it may help make a good first impression with the examiner I didn't know.

So after a moment I took a seat. It was like a doctor's waiting room with whispers and the odd cough. Everyone was either writing notes or avoiding people's eyes. When the door opened everyone looked up at once hoping it was his or her turn. There was a poster with different kinds of lamps on the wall (what a dull idea for a poster). Whilst I was waiting at least I found out what kind of lamp I had (an Olympen lamp if you wondered).

At one point a girl was heard crying from one of the rooms. Something to come for me? Unlikely. I doubt it was my tutor. He couldn't make an infant cry if he wanted to. In the end I achieved another 12 (the equivalent of an A grade in the weird Danish marking system), which I feel I really deserved due to all the work I put in during the last week or two. So that concluded the academic side of my first semester at the University of Copenhagen. It was hard work in the end (not the holiday I envisioned), but I feel I got a lot out of the experience so far.

This semester I also participated in the EURECO lecture series, which was the culmination of research by numerous departments of the University of Copenhagen (including the law, the social sciences and humanities departments). The aim of the lecture series was to highlight seven challenges to Europe with the Danish perspective in mind. I was initially interested in taking part to broaden my knowledge of the Danish perspective to European integration as well as gaining a Diploma in recognition of attending the entire lecture series. At the end of the final lecture I was presented with my EURECO Diploma, which shall be a reminder of the great academic discussions which took place; not just something extra to talk about in my applications.

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