Story Mode Complete

This afternoon, with a bag of frozen peas on my ankle (I face-planted off Calton Hill last night dressed like a 1980s calisthenics instructor), I submitted my final essay and finished my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh.

After four long years of work and the last year spend writing my dissertation, it feels really, really good to be finally done.  After I submitted my dissertation last week, I went to get an ice cream and found a bench in the Grassmarket.  It was a sunny day and the castle looked gorgeous as ever (you almost forget they used to burn the witches 200 metres to the right!).  Then I left for the Bothy for the weekend and enjoyed the sun up north.

But, I’m not going to lie.  The end is also a bit sad.

I have truly fallen in love with this city.  My time here has shaped the person I have become and the person I will continue to be in the future.  My degree has taught me a lot more than just how to write historical papers or dig in the dirt.  The people I’ve met and the places I have been will, honestly, stay with me for the rest of my life.

Maybe, one day, I’ll write a book about it.

This post is shorter than I anticipated, but, truthfully, I can only say how much the past four years have meant to me in a limited number of ways before it gets contrived.

So, that’s me done.  I’m bouncing on holiday soon.  After that, it’ll be EUMC Road Trip and then at Bamburgh for the rest of the summer to help with excavations.  Graduation is in July.

*stress-fess begins and other haps*

For how many contact hours I have this semester I should really be writing more.

Things around Edinburgh have been in that weird stage of ‘IamextremelystressedbutalsostrangelycalmshouldIbeworriedaboutthis?’

If you know the feeling you know, and if you don’t oh, my sweet summer child.

Apologies for not writing as much, but in reality, I don’t think you’d find my general bouncing and bopping interesting.  However!  I was convinced otherwise by a few devote readers of my illustrious list of mild inconveniences to detail more about the mundane facts of my existence.

Since you’ve last heard from me:

I went to the Cairngorms with the EUMC.  We stayed a cute lil bunkhouse because Scottish winter is very cold and there isn’t enough sunlight to justify camping.  I went running without any knee braces and suffered no ill side effects.  I’ve been rehabbing my knees religiously because I don’t want to have to wear braces anymore.  I also walked to see some prehistoric standing stones.

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wow i love old standing stones.

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I started a 120 hour online TEFL course.  This will let me teach english as a foreign language.  Just more options, I guess.

I submitted my second essay for Early Medieval Sexualities.

I went to see The Favourite and Mary, Queen of Scots. I don’t know why 2019 has become the year of historical female power dramas but I’m living for it!  The films aren’t totally historically accurate, but honestly, sometimes historical purists need to calm down and enjoy themselves ffs.

The EUMC had our Burn’s Ceilidh.  Burn’s Night is a Scottish holiday to celebrate the poet Robert Burns.  Each year the lads and lassies of the EUMC write crass poems about each other to be read aloud at the ceilidh.  My poem was about how I find skeletal remains more interesting than living people, and I mean, I could be offended… but, it’s true?

I woke up the next morning with sore arms and bruises from being 1) swung around during ‘strip the willow’ and 2) purposely throwing myself and my dance partners at other people for funnies (Sorry Alven, Erling, and Ben).  Don’t let anyone tell you otherwise: ceilidhs are a contact sport set to fiddles and drums. And. I. Love. It.

I’m still plugging away at my dissertation and the last of my coursework.  At the moment, I have three essays, a presentation, and my dissertation.

BUT! Everything is done by 8 April.

It’ll be a stress-fess for the next two months – but it has to get done, so it’ll get done.

All the work has to get done because my loving parents booked a holiday on 9 April. I was told this was booked in the same vein as when my dad sent me my Christmas present right before exams.  Physically, the gift was an Xbox, but, you see, this was only a metaphor for the actual gift: a lesson in self-control and discipline…

But! I will be free from uni soon.  Then I can spend my days working on my novel, and finally, have some peace.

 

 

 

i wrote a thing and return to scotland

hey pals!

Sitting in Chicago O’Hare waiting to board my next flight back to Edinburgh to begin my last year of my undergraduate degree at the University of Edinburgh.  I say last year of my undergraduate because we all know that I will attempt to prolong my eventual exodus from Academia as long as possible.  Gotta keep my student discount at the cinema people!  I’m writing from a chair this time instead of sprawled on the floor – so maybe this is the uneventful, lackluster evidence of my passage into adulthood we’ve all been patiently waiting for?

But anyway, this past week was spent in Lawrence showing Gregor, Tuva, and Erling the old stomping grounds.  And of course, it had to be the only week out of the entire year that it rained for 5 days straight.  I mean, it was good for the soybeans at least? Either way, I hope that the three of them had a great time!  I showed them Downtown Lawrence, Clinton Lake, we went to the Grinter Sunflower Farm, and got smothered by corporate love by a Bud-Light rep at the Bull who upon finding out that 2 Norwegians and 1 Scot were outside with a bunch of Lawrence Townies proceeded to give us 8 pitchers of Bud-Light on the house (in addition to the three pitchers we already had).  And yes, before you ask, we finished it all because we are not going to leave any soldiers on the field – just who do you think we are?

Other happenings… I got an op-ed published!  It’s all about youth in History and today’s political landscape.  I wrote it for REEK Perfume, a local perfume company based in Edinburgh run by a mother and daughter who create scents in honor of Historical Women.  Their perfumes are ethically sourced, cruelty free, and their ad campaigns aren’t retouched!  I’ll link to their website hereI copied the first few paragraphs from the article so you can get a sense of the piece, but please go to their website to read the full thing so they (and I) get the traffic and reading numbers!  Constructive feedback and nice comments always warranted as well!

Writer Kennedy Younger Dold looks at the phenomenal success of youth activism in politics today through the lens of history… 

All over the land, the kids have finally startin’ to get the upper hand.
They’re out on the streets, they turn on the heat,
And soon they could be completely in command.
(Sweet, 1974)

Museums and galleries are quiet places. The stern, official portraits of historical figures make it all too easy to forget the vitality of the stories on display. But, those tales demand to be told. They are the stories of the young, the restless and the rebellious. History tells us stories of many young people who achieved notoriety.

In 1777, Sybil Luddington rode twice as far as the more famous midnight ride of Paul Revere to warn of attacking British regulars during the American Revolution.  Not only did she ride twice as far, but at 16, she was half his age as well. Joan of Arc was 17 when, leading from the front, she inspired the French army to victory after victory during the Hundred Years War with England. Henry V was 29 at the Battle of Agincourt.  Flora MacDonald was 24 when she helped Bonnie Prince Charlie escape after the 1745 Jacobite Uprising. Victoria was 18 when she became Queen. Alexander the Great conquered and created an empire at the same age. Mary Shelley, at 20, published Frankenstein.  At 23, Nellie Bly was exposing inhumane conditions in American asylums.  To pile on even more extraordinary achievement, she traveled around the world in 72 days… just to beat the fictional record set in Jules Verne’s classic Around the World in 80 Days.  Flash forward to the 20th century and the rise of the self and culturally aware teenager.  In 1977, Carrie Fisher’s Princess Leia (age 19) (although fictional) brought hope to a galaxy far, far away. Young people shaped the post-war years: staging protests, fighting for civil rights, and writing pretty incredible music.

(Click to Continue Reading Here)

Classes this year are going to be pretty awesome and I’m looking forward to them.  I played the system and don’t have any exams – so my exam anxiety is over and I’ll actually feel like I’m researching and learning something new versus trying to memorize a bunch of facts that I’ll forget once I flip over the paper.  That and my professors will actually be able to read my essays instead of trying to deceiver my left-handed, I took Ancient Greek disaster script.

I have a full year course for my Dissertation on the Architectural Archaeology and Cultural Heritage of the Botanic Cottage the Royal Botanic Garden Edinburgh, a semester in Architectural Archaeology (to help with the dissertation), a full year Archaeological Fieldwork course, and a full year history course on Medieval Sexualities 500-1000 AD.  That last course will focus on the post-Roman world, Monastic structures, and early medieval female leaders (and fingers crossed for some warladies thrown in as well.) It was this course or one on Early Medieval Botany but the botany course had a three hour exam so f*** that.  I’d rather write longer essays.

I’m still kicking around the Mountaineering Club, and there’s Fresher’s Week to help out with when I get back.  I’m quite excited this year as I plan on hiking up to Hardknott when I’m in the Lakes this October.  Hardknott is a Roman Fort up on a mountain side in the Langdale Valley.  From it’s position it probably served as a defensive outpost for the other fort located in Windermere.  It wasn’t occupied for long – probably because it’s up a mountain and it also is very well preserved (again because it’s on a mountain side so limits the visitors.)

But, that’s about all at the moment.  I’m sure you’ll hear from me again soon. But until then…. with tolerance and respect. byeeeeeeeee.

long time no chat

Hey all!  Apologies for the absence.

Things have been a little busy around here in Edinburgh.  I had my last exam on Wednesday (Theoretical Archaeology) so I am officially done for the year and just awaiting some final marks.  The exam went well and unless I royally messed up, it’ll be fine.  My final project marks for my Archaeological Illustration class came back and I’m quite happy with them.

Out of all my classes this semester, Archaeological Illustration was probably my favorite as I got a chance to work both digital stuff like Photoshop and Illustrator but also techniques like ink and watercolor.  I’ve always love art and it was great to be able to use what I’ve learned in school during this class!  I’ll include pngs of my final project below if you want to see.  We had to choose an object and create two different illustrations.  I chose the wooden box I use to keep my bobby pins in.  I did one academic on the computer and one hand-drawn for public engagement.  Also for museum work and excavations learning to record artifacts is a great skill to have.

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The flat had a party last night to celebrate as it was also Norway Day (17th of May).

Plans are to go up to the Bothy soon to set the gas and do some other work so I promise to write a longer post about summer plans then.  Next week is the EUMC Anniversary dinner in Arisaig.  There will be a ceilidh, hog roast, camping, climbing, and a beach.  Then it’s off on a short climbing road trip to where ever the weather is nice and beach is close.

As for the rest of the summer, I’ll be spending June in Edinburgh working at Royal Botanical Garden Edinburgh on my dissertation about the Botanic Cottage (archaeology, Enlightenment History, and education!).  July is going to be full of excavations both at Bamburgh and back to Poulton.  August is back to America.

Byeeeeee.

lol what is a blog ???

ope.

Sorry, Mom, for the absence.

Things have been a little crazy.  I’ve turned in four essays so far.  Deadlines were very close together with one on 1 Nov, 2 on Nov, and 1 on 7 Nov… hence the radio silence.

I’ve still got to design a poster and start on my final three big essays for the semester.  SCREAMS.

But, if any consolation… I don’t have any exams this semester so that’s nice.  Just death essays.

This week has been pretty great so far…

On Monday, I have a meeting at the National Museum to help discuss what sort of things young people would be interested in.  The NMS just got a huge grant from the Heritage Lottery Fund.  Since I volunteer at the museum with the youth engagement team, we all got called in for a consultation with museum staff and Young Scot staff.  We talked about ‘what is heritage’ and what we should expect from future museum programs.  They also gave me food and unlimited coffee so I was pretty happy.

Tuesday. I woke up late and barely made it to class on time and then was locked into academia from 9-1 and because I was running late didn’t have time for food and nearly starved to death and then one of my pins fell off my jacket and I still haven’t found it and I’m still crying about it.

TODAY! I also got up late and had to run out the door to be at the Royal Botanical Garden for 10.30 to get my pass photo taken because surprise! cha girl is also volunteering there now! I’ll be working at the Garden Cottage which hosts a lot of educational events.  They brought me into help plan events for teens and students!  I attended the interdepartmental meeting today which was a bit overwhelming for my first day but they gave me free food so it was okay. (It was pumpkin soup made from stuff grown in the garden FYI.)  I’ve got another meeting there next week Wednesday to talk more with the education department.  I’m v excited.

But, yeah.  I came home after the meeting and drank a lot of coffee.  I talked shit with my dad over the phone for liiikkkee an hour or so until my phone died.  Then I actually had to get to work and so I read the entire publication about the mass graves at Towton (a battle during the war of the roses (1461) which pretty much paved the way for bby edward iv to become king of england… which im still really conflicted about because eddie 4 was fighting against henry ‘son of bae’ vi and while i’m like eddie iv is the better candidate my loyalty to henry v really causes a lot of internal strife and turmoil and it all comes down to the fact that if bae hadn’t died of dysentery in 1422 we wouldnt have this problem.)  for my Conflict Archaeology class.

And, now I have to somehow try to condense all that information to a poster and write three essays by December 5. Which is, as much as I cry about it, actually quite doable and I just have to stop whining about it and ‘getter done.’

yIkEs.

 

 

 

screaming into the void

It’s been about a week since my last post and while, I’d admit nothing of spectacular note has happened, I’d figure I’d update you about my meager life existence.

Things have been busy here (duh).  I’m hurtling quickly down the path to Essay City.  Deadlines are coming up fast on the 1, 6, and 7.  After that it’s pretty consistent until I finish in early December.  No exams, just a dense compaction of shit.

Last week was the EUMC ceilidh (for my lovely American readers, a traditional Scottish event that is part line dancing, square dancing, and cage fight) and I somehow managed to come out of the ceilidh relatively unscathed.  Minor bruising and a few scraps but everyone made it back safe and sound with 40 chicken McNuggets in tow.

On Tuesday, my conflict archaeology course took a trip to Edinburgh Castle to look the military history of the castle.  I’m really enjoying the class and getting some ideas for my dissertation.  I hadn’t been to the castle since visiting it with my family back in 2015, so it was pretty cool to go back and see new things… obviously not new because the castle is hecka old but new to me because I’VE LEARNED THINGS!  A fantastinating concept that is… when you read and learn new things about history (or the world) your views, opinions, and knowledge become more refined.  Truly fascinating.

I’ve been working on an assignment for my Archaeology course as well as a short response to a piece about intersectional feminism for my History in Theory course.  I’ve got to get started on my field trip report about Edinburgh Castle as well as another short response for History in Theory.

There’s been strange but actually pretty interesting lectures this week.  I just came from one about ‘Animals in History’ and how/can we actually write histories of animals?  The lecturer was a medievalist and kept talking about medieval heraldry and bestiaries so that was a worth getting up at 7.45 on a Thursday for.  He also showed up photos of his dog.  Another lecture, had back on Tuesday went from Poststructuralism to 16c demonic possession real fast so that was funky fresh.  I’m just along for the ride tbh.

Um… what else?  I’ve been playing a lot of Skyrim in the evenings to disassociate myself from the impending stress that I know November will bring.  You’re reading the work of the new Arch Mage of the College of Winterhold.

I’m just trying to life my best life, pls.

week one

Sorry for the radio silence, things have been a bit busy here over the past week.

Last week was my first week back at University.  The week before that had been Freshers’ Week and was full of plenty of events to keep me busy.

Since I’m on the committee for the EUMC again this year I helped out at the Fresher’s Sports Fair and then helped out on the Cobbler meet.  It’s my third time to the Cobbler, but things were a little bit different this year.  I’ve got new knee braces and walking poles.  I looked like an absolute Grandmother, but honestly for the first time in about six years my knees didn’t cause me any problems.  If you’re new to my life, I’ve got some genetic abnormalities in how my patellas articulate which has caused tendonitis in both knees and has led to a few cases of ‘snap-back’ dislocation.  Yay.  I’ve been wearing some form of knee brace since I was fourteen and been through therapy for them multiple times, and while it’s always caused problems I’ve really tried to not let it stop me from enjoying sports etc.  So, when I only experiencing the type-2 fun of ‘why am I walking long distances for fun’ and not the type-3 fun of ‘I would rather step in a bear trap than have to use my legs’ I was pretty ecstatic.

My classes started up on Tuesday with a 9 AM lecture for History in Theory.  It’s one of my required classes and while it’s probably going to be a bit dry, I think I’m going to enjoy it.  Our lectures are over a variety of topics from Marxist History to Gender Theory.  I also had a seminar for my Conflict Archaeology class.  I am really excited for this course and I was really glad that I got a space in it as it is normally way over subscripted. Especially exciting is that during the semester Douglas D. Scott is coming to give a guest lecture!  Scott was one of the leading Conflict Archaeologists who basically 1) invented the discipline as we know it today and 2) lead major works on the Battle of Little Bighorn which basically reinvented our understanding of the battle!

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My skool is kweel. #year3

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Wednesday I had the day off and while I didn’t do much this week, I know in the coming weeks I’ll be glad to have a reading day!

Thursday I had another 9 AM lecture for History in Theory.  Thursday night was the first EUMC social of the year.  Gregor and I were marshals at one of the pubs on the crawl list and had invented a fantastic challenge of having participants eat cream crackers whilst downing a pint.  Since I had to get up early the next day for a 9-11 Archaeology seminar I planned on not staying out too terribly late. ‘Planned’ is the key word in that sentence.  And additionally, with Tuva home sick Gregor, Erling, and I had no adult supervision which learning from past experiences is never a good thing…

Friday morning I had a my Archaeology seminar about Community Archaeology at 9 AM. I made it.  I participated in the discussion.  I went home.

Saturday we celebrated Caitlin’s birthday (the fool’s real birthday was over the summer, but apparently our Facebook posts weren’t enough smh).  Saturday night I thrilled to find ‘Dirty Dancing’ had been added to Amazon Prime.

And today, I’ve spent the afternoon reading for my History in Theory lecture and then tomorrow I’ll read for my Conflict Archaeology course.  I’ll be starting in on my assignments soon as they are all due in a massive group at the end of November and I’m gonna die if I procrastinate.

semester ii + scotland soundtrack xxi

Ah, semester two is upon us.  Prepare the lances, open the gates… and charge.  I’ve been adamantly waiting for the start of classes.  Usually one is less than ready to become absorbed by reading and essay writing… but I always find myself the happiest when surrounded by learning… I feel a real sense of purpose and belonging.

I love attending lectures and listening to people talk about subjects they are passionate about.  Growing up, I felt very isolated from my peers (albeit, looking back on it now, much of it was probably self inflicted).  I never knew what to say during a conversation and never seemed to share any of their interests.  Socially, I’ll admit I was a more than a tad awkward and quite shy.  I loved talking with people, but large groups made me tired and overwhelmed (and this still do).  Perhaps that made me appear stand-offish.   My best friends were my parents, my cats, and my books.

I buried myself in study.  I latched onto the Middle Ages.  And truthfully at 13, who does not love the idea of great queens and valiant knights and conquests of valour?  I covered my walls with charts and maps.  My room was full constantly with piles of books from used bookshops and the public library.  I read as much as I possibly could, bringing books with me everywhere I went.  My dad and I would hold exergetic debates over historical events, I remember quite fondly one discussion, during my second year of highschool, of how the Third Crusade would have gone differently had Frederick Barbarossa not drowned in the river.  My mom would roll her eyes.

At that age, and now at 19, I really want nothing more than to learn as much as I can.  The connections we make to the past are indispensable for our futures.  History is what binds people together across the ages and like a whisper can tell fantastic stories if one sits quiet enough to listen.

The opportunities I have been given here are not ones I take lightly.  I have the chance to shape my future, now, at this moment.  As Lin Manuel Miranda wrote so ferociously, ‘I am not throwing away my shot.’  I have had successes, but cannot be complacent.  As I told my parents over break, ‘Three of my essays this semester were firsts… I’m going to try to see if I can make that five this semester.’  Especially, as I enter into the second half of my second year.  Graduation grows closer.  If I want to continue to be surrounded by the history I adore, and I very much do, I have to stay focused.

I guess, it was the intrinsic human fear of failure which drove me for the longest time.  I feared I would never made it out of America, now I suppose, seeing as I have had the appetizer, I am awaiting the main course.  I am not so scared of failure much anymore, as instead of focusing of the negatives, I try my best to stay positive.  Just coming back from the shop with enough food to last me a few weeks, I realised, as I turned the key to my flat, where I had been two years ago – accepting my offer to study here in Edinburgh, in a country I had never been, and a continent I had only first visited two years prior.  By accepting, I did not allow my fears of failure control me anymore.  Now I just have to build up the confidence to reach my arms wide, grab it, and never let it go… which is easier said than done.

I still have much to learn, and I know that I will never learn everything I want to… but at least I know what makes me happy.  As I listen to world experts talk about the subjects I adore, or run my hand along the the vast shelves in the library full of books I have yet to read, or walk the ancient streets of Edinburgh, or climb peaks up north I think a lot back to the young girl from Kansas who wanted nothing more than to see the places in her books. How, each night, she would look at the map of the world she had pinned to her ceiling and knew one day she would finally find her place.  Everything I do now, I do for her.

And additionally, future-me with an excavation all her own and a cat named Henry, what I do now is for her as well.

As I said, I do not take my place here lightly.

So, goals for this semester:

I) I plan to reach farther and aim higher.  I am finally taking a course in Medieval History and I hope it is everything I want it to be.  However, I cannot be complacent in my background knowledge.  I must use this as an opportunity to learn even more than ever.

II) Attempt to be more sociable.  Remembering to put down the books and actually interact with people… ones who have not been dead for the past six hundred years.

III) Be more productive during the day and not leaving large amounts of reading to the day before.  I have a very bad habit of this.

IV) Stay. On. Top. Of. Laundry.

V) Remember that this is a subject that I love dearly and not allowing my studies to become a chore.

VI) Not take myself too seriously and remember I am still a huge nerd who may or may not have just spent the last ten minutes looking for her glasses… when they were already on her face…

Classes start tomorrow and I have lectures in both Archaeology and Rome History.  I am very glad to be getting back to my studies and cannot wait to see what I can learn this semester.  News on this summer’s upcoming archaeological dig is coming soon, I just have to finalize a few more things… but I can say that I am quite excited about it.

 

 

First Day of Classes

Today was the day!

I have officially started as a first year at the University of Edinburgh!

Leaving my dorm this morning ready for my first lecture and the downpour outside.

Leaving my dorm this morning ready for my first lecture and the downpour outside.

I had a pretty busy day today with all three of my class lectures.  My first lecture was at 10:00 AM – British Social History 1650-1880.  It was raining pretty hard this morning when I was walking to class.  I figured this was a fitting welcome to starting University in rainy Scotland.

For the class, I was a little worried that I wouldn’t enjoy it as much because I’m not super into the 18th century, but once the lecture started it actually sounded really neat.  The course will focus on the everyday people of the 18th century and not so much on the political and economic histories.  We will study how people lived and worked, treating them like real people instead of just a list of dates and names.  Which is a good change for a history class! For assignments, we have a short write up, an essay, and the final in December. Not a lot of graded work but A LOT of reading!

After the lecture, I headed over to Starbucks to use the WIFI and get lunch.  I registered for my British Social History Tutorial which will be Friday mornings at 9:00 AM. (I’m really trying to have all my classes in the mornings so that I have all day then to enjoy the city.  Not to mention that during the winter, the sun sets at 4 PM!)

My next lecture wasn’t until 2:10, so I ran home quickly to pick up my parcels from reception.  My parents are honestly the coolest and sent me a new raincoat and the holiest of holies… the breakfast sandwich maker.

bow down to your lord and saviour, the breakfast sandwich maker.

bow down to your lord and saviour, the breakfast sandwich maker.

I don’t have any eggs yet or round muffins, so I need to stop at CO-OP Foods tomorrow and get some, but then it is breakfast sandwiches all day every day.

At 2:10, I had my Celtic Civilisation class.  I am super excited for this one.  We are going to explore the history and identity of the ancient Celts and how that was or was not shaped by outside historians like the Romans.  Last year in Latin we read Caesar’s Gallic Wars, in it Caesar writes about the Celts.  But Caesar being a typical Roman puts a bit of bias on the culture and identity of the Celtic peoples.  And because so much of the history we have of the Celts is written by outsiders like the Romans, it is often hard to truly distinguish fact from fiction.  Neat-o.

That lecture ended at 3:00 PM and from there I had to run across campus to get to my Archaeology 1A lecture.  I am beyond thrilled to finally be in an archaeology class.  This class will mostly cover the basic techniques of archaeology and devel in the origin of the Human Species.

After all my lectures had finished for the day, I went to Blackwells Bookstore to get my textbooks.  Blackwells is a huge three story bookstore right across the street from Old College.  A lot of the reading material is available online, but many of my professors still recommended buying hard copies of the textbooks to have for reference.  I’m also a bibliophile and a bit of a luddite when it comes to my studies.

Yay. books.

Yay. books.

Overall it was a great day and I am so glad to finally be starting classes.  All my classes have HUGE reading lists and not a lot of the assignments so there is huge pressure for the final… but I trust my writing ability and my study skills so I know I’ll be okay!