After weeks of drizzling rain and the cheery grey skies for which England is so famous, Sheffield has fallen into what I can only assume counts as summertime. The amount of sunshine has peaked dramatically and the weather has shot up to the sixties. I didn’t realize quite how well I had acclimated to the chill and the damp until it was taken away from me. I only packed a few items for warmer weather so I’ve been cycling through the same couple of outfits for the past several weeks. Despite growing up in the Midwest, I find it slightly too warm for my taste when the temperature peaks above sixty-five. I am expecting an unpleasant transition when I return to the States where the temperature is about forty degrees higher. Let’s just say I am relishing this weather while I have it.
May has been a strange time for the academic schedule here in England. Rather than one week of finals, exams and deadlines are spread over a three week period that includes weekends. One of my friends took an exam last Saturday morning. The last week of the semester before this exam period is called reading week and most professors either cancel class or hold revision sessions. Without the usual structure afforded by weekly classes, the last month feels loose and surreal. Papers are usually due in the first week of the exam period, presumably to allow students to focus on their revision.
Almost all of my final exams at OU have been administered in the room where the class has been meeting all semester. The rare exceptions are still administered in a classroom on campus with other students from my class taking the same exam. Here in Sheffield, exams seem to offered everywhere except classrooms. Last week, I took a final in a multi-purpose auditorium. The room had been cleared out and filled with hundreds of desks and chairs in neat, numbered rows. At least five different classes were taking their final exam at the same time, the students divided up into sections according to the test they were taking. A food court on the upper level of the student union has been shut down and converted into a testing space. Another student I know will be taking an economics exam at the student sporting complex. Several exams are being administered in a conference center on the other side of town. Given that the University of Sheffield is roughly the same size as the University of Oklahoma, I do not understand the need for such a complicated and confusing system.