Monday, December 14, 2009

Done With the GRE, Finally

For months I’ve been studying for the Graduate Record Examination, or GRE. If you’ve followed along with the blogs, you know that it has taken up a large chunk of my time, and has only added to aggravation while living in a new country. Finally, on Saturday morning, I woke up early and headed in to take the test.

It felt kind of weird walking down the same streets I walk every day, except that they were totally empty. At 7:30 am on a Saturday, not a soul is found in the Microcentro. Tumbleweed city. Getting to the test center I saw two other girls waiting who would be in my computer lab. One was from Uruguay and was taking some banking exam, and the other was taking the GRE. Suddenly a group of about 8 high school age kids came in with their parents, all very excited. The kids were rushed into another room while the parents stood around looking happy and proud. My name was called and I entered the computer lab, filled out a form, and was placed at a computer to go to work.

It seems like a quarter of the test was just a tutorial on how to answer the questions, so by the time I finally got under way I was already tired and lost any unease I might have had. The advantage of doing nerve-wracking things in the morning is that you’re too tired to care, so aside from a little armpit sweat, you don’t get too worked up. In my case anyway. A short breath here and there, but all things considered I was as ready for this stupid test as I ever would be.

They say as time gets closer to the exam date you are supposed to wind down the studying. I started months ago—technically over a year ago—but as enthusiastic as I started out (I will do well on this exam!) by the last month or so I could handle it no more (Just end this crap already!). Using my lunch breaks and time after work for studying, it simply wore me out. You really can’t study for this exam for too long, or you just lose interest. It’s not as if you are studying an interesting topic, but you are merely studying to take a specific test.

Also consider that I’m terrible at math and had to dedicate time to reviewing topics I hadn’t thought of in years, and had lost any potential skill at long ago. Wasting my time reviewing this material when I could have been working on improving my Spanish or making some friends just ticked me off. But finally the day was there to face it and get it over with. The exam went about as I’d expected. I wrote the essays pretty well, in my opinion. I scored a bit above average on the verbal section, and the bottom fell out on the math and that’s where the score dropped.

It kind of bummed me out for a couple of hours, but then I realized that it’s finally over, and I don’t have to deal with it anymore. No more carrying around the big purple prep book to and from work. No more guilty feelings about using a Saturday to go somewhere rather than studying. And at long last, maybe I can finally start enjoying the time I have down here.

I got it kick started yesterday. I went with my friend Dan to a bar to watch the Pats game. It was the middle of the afternoon on a beautiful Sunday, but we were drinking in a bar, talking it up with a guy from Quincy, MA and his friend from New Hampshire. Their accents gave it away immediately and it reminded me of home. Drinking on a Sunday and football, chattin’ it up with some guys from New England. Not a bad way to celebrate no more GREing.

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