Leaving Cert student diary: Evelina Siaulyte
‘I’m exempt from Irish and a lot of classmates are jealous, but biology nearly made me cry’
Evelina Siaulyte: “I dream of it all being over. I think the system is reasonably fair because most students who study should be okay”
I’ve been sitting my exams for five months, with a new exam every day.
Okay, alright. It’s been five days. But it really does feel like it’s been so much longer. And I’ve five more exams to go: art history, chemistry, music, Russian and Lithuanian.
I’m fluent in both those languages; most Lithuanians would understand Russian. My grandmother and my mother both speak Russian, as they grew up at a time when Lithuania was under Russian control and their native tongue was suppressed.
It’s a little similar to Ireland, where the Irish language was less used under British rule. I was exempted from Irish, as my family came here only four years ago. A lot of my classmates are jealous. That said, there are over 50 different nationalities in this school, many of whom didn’t do Irish in primary school, so there’s quite a few of us who have been granted exemptions.
Daunted I came without a word of English, and it was really hard at first. I remember my first morning before school: I cried. I was so daunted. But I quickly found new friends in Adamstown Community College.
My cousin and I are classmates and we helped each other. My other classmates were just so great; they all helped me to learn English and were massively supportive.
Everybody tells me I’ve done so well with English. I took the higher level paper. I feel I could be better, but it’s no harm to push yourself. I liked that exam. The poets I had studied came up.
I wish I was as enthusiastic about the biology paper today. When I opened the paper and saw the first few questions, I thought I would cry. I thought they were terrible! So difficult and unexpected, and I couldn’t remember learning anything like this before. I redeemed myself with the longer questions, but I’m so glad it’s over. Next week’s chemistry exam will probably be quite difficult too.
Awfulness Still, neither could beat the awfulness of ordinary level maths Paper 1. I sat in that exam with the words of my teacher echoing in my head: “Write something on the paper, anything, even if you have no idea. Multiply or add the numbers together, to make sure you at least get marks for the attempt. Just do something.” It didn’t erase my conviction that I would fail maths, but after Paper 2, I think I’ll be fine.
I dream of it all being over. I think the system is reasonably fair, because most students who study should be okay. They could, however, divide the exams in two, with one set at the end of fifth year and the other at the end of sixth year; it would ease some of the pressure.
This summer I’m off to Lithuania for a month. I’m so looking forward to seeing all my extended family again. I’ll also go on a week-long camping trip with my friends. I’ll have done all I can to get my first course choice – nursing in Trinity. I’ll put it out of my mind until August but, by then, my fate will have been decided.
Evelina Siaulyte is a student at Adamstown Community College