Student diary: ‘The longest – and shortest – week ever’
‘I started to feel as though I’d fallen down the drain and woken up in the world of Macbeth’
Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh Leaving Cert student Josh McGiff. Photograph: Arthur Ellis
It has been both the longest and shortest week ever. It started off waiting, waiting, eternally waiting, for the exams to finally start.
Then it was Wednesday, and three days of exams seem to have passed in a heartbeat.
In the days leading up to the exams, I spent a lot of time going over quotes, formulas and facts. I started to feel as though I’d fallen down the drain and woken up in the world of Macbeth.
I also took a good few breaks and spent a lot of time with the family. I watched a BBC show called Years and Years, which looked into the UK’s possible political and technological future.
I struggled to focus on English paper one because the comprehensions were not quite to my taste. I tackled a question about places that have had a significant impact on my life.
I make podcasts about games so I wrote about the internet as a place I spend a lot of time on, the people I have come into contact with through this and how it has shaped me as a person. I have spoken to people from all over the world and from all sorts of backgrounds. Regardless of where people are from, they are all the same when playing games.
English paper one also gave me a chance to talk about how Macbeth relates to modern life and society.
I took the opportunity to show how, like Macbeth, we repeat the same mistakes. In the 1950s, for instance, the US elected Joseph McCarthy, and now they have elected Donald Trump – both use the same scare tactics to frighten voters.
I was very happy with English paper two. I had studied and revised three of the four poets that came up. I have always had a big passion for Sylvia Plath, and I first discovered her in second year – long before I encountered her in the Leaving Cert. She was a new voice for her time, when there were no female poets or anyone really talking about the struggles of being a mother, or depression. She used deep, dark and dramatic tones and her work is as gripping as a TV show.
Maths is one of my favourite subjects. My teacher is really good, and we use a lot of technology in school, especially an app called Geogebra which helps visualise graphs. I think using these apps in school is where I got my interest in the subject.
There’s been a lot of talk recently that you don’t learn as well from technology such as iPads as from printed books, but that just doesn’t chime with my experience. An iPad gives you a window beyond the classroom to apply your learning. With physics, for instance, you can relive the lives of people who created these things. With English, you can research essays people have written. Our school is really innovative in this regard and they’re good at making sure we don’t drift on to social media.
I think the exams will continue to fly by, and I’m already thinking of my next podcast and a future – hopefully – on a computer science degree course.
Josh McGiff is a student at Gaelcholáiste Luimnigh