Student diary: No surprises or upsets and students screamed with delight

It turned out to be a great paper; it couldn’t have gone better, writes Mumtaz Rostam

Our teacher had prepared us well and I don’t think any student would have been too thrown.

Our teacher had prepared us well and I don’t think any student would have been too thrown.

 

“Ssshh . . . your sisters are studying!” That’s been the refrain in my house for the last few months. I’m doing the Leaving Cert; my sister is in the throes of her Junior Cert. And my parents want my two brothers and my other sister to keep quiet.

I think we’ll all be happy when it’s over. They’ll be allowed to watch TV again and to make as much noise as they want. But they’ve dealt with it very well.

“You’re next,” we tell them.

The whole family moved here from Kuala Lumpur in Malaysia when I was 13. Straight into Adamstown Community College, a brand new school in a brand new community, we were the first class. We had no seniors to look up to.

I grew up speaking Malay. I had very little English, but I read book after book. Mum bought me the entire Harry Potter series to help with my reading, and I was absorbed by it.

My first-year English teacher, Siobhán O’Dwyer, was great, and she helped me so much. I wanted her to be my English teacher right through to sixth year. And lucky for me she was.

Without her, I don’t know if I would have been able to take on the higher level English paper.

And I had to take it on if I was to have any hope of getting enough CAO points to get into a medicine course. I’ve applied to Trinity, RCSI, UCC, NUI Galway – everywhere.

The pressure is really on when you want to do medicine. There are at least five of us in the year with the same hope, but we know we might not all get it.

I have back-up plans: I’ve also applied for immunology as well as business and accounting courses.

The English paper went so well. As soon as I picked it up, I did what tens of thousands of students all over Ireland did: I went straight to the poetry section. I didn’t just hear the sighs of reliefs in my own exam hall; you could hear them all over the country.

The three poets I studied – Frost, Montague and Ní Chuilleanáin – all came up. The question on Othello focused on Desdemona and Emilia, two relatively minor characters, but our teacher had prepared us well and I don’t think any student would have been too thrown.

When the exam ended, students ran out screaming and whooping with delight. We’d been expecting a surprise or an upset. Instead, it turned out to be a great paper; it couldn’t have gone better.

I have an exemption from Irish, so my next exams are maths and biology. I don’t finish until June 16th, when I sit the chemistry paper. I’m really looking forward to going on holidays to Malaysia for the entire month of July; it will be so good to see our extended family again.

And then? Medicine, I hope. But we’ll see. I’m ready for anything.

Mumtaz Rostan is one of our Leaving Cert diarists from Adamstown Community College