Saturday, January 22, 2011

Exams and How to cope with stress

I've been working on packing up my suitcases today. I'm looking forward to flying back to the states tomorrow night. I will be back in the states for about 16 days. I've made lists of everything I want to do and all the American foods I want to eat while I'm at home. Those will probably be the subjects of a few posts. But I wanted the share with you the experience of taking exams in Israel.

The set up for exams here is a bit different from what I was used to at Texas A&M. Here exams are taken in a different room from the one the class is usually held in. If you class is a small one you might be sharing the exam room with another class. They have exam proctors that run the test, most of them only spoke Hebrew with very limited English. The front of the exam booklet where you fill in the information about the class and you ID number is completely in Hebrew. So there is a moment of panic in your first exam while you try to figure that out. Its made worse because they use some abbreviations and I don't know Hebrew well enough to figure them out quickly. Eventually I got it all filled out. The exams are held from 2:30pm to 5:30pm. For some tests they extended the time. Because unlike the exams I took in the states the professors seem to want you to be there for the entire exam period. Here you are not allowed to leave the exam room during the exam for any reason. In only one exam they were nice enough to let us leave to use the restroom but only one student at a time. The rest of the exams we couldn't leave the room.

Before taking my first exam which was my Hebrew level exam they handed us a brochure. It was meant for the mechina students. The mechina program is for students who have just graduated high school but aren't quite ready for college, its kind of like a prepatory program from my understanding. The brochure gives helpful tips about how to cope with stress. It did help me cope with stress but not because of their tips...some of them had me laughing so hard I did feel less stressed out. Somehow I don't think this is what they had in mind. Some of the tips are legitimate and some of them sound like there were put in an online Hebrew/English translator and they didn't turn out right. This brochure is such a gem I decided to share with you along with my commentary. The points from the brochure with be bullet points my commentary will be in italics. The bullet points have been typed exactly as they appear in the brochure.

  • Get up 15 minutes early So far we are off to a good start
  • Prepare for the morning the night before This is a good tip I already pack up my backpack the night before
  • Avoid relying on chemical aids This made me laugh because that week I was so nervous about my modern Hebrew exam I had taken sleep aids several nights in a row.
  • Don't rely on your memory...write it down Another good tip except you might forget where you wrote everything down
  • Set priorities in your life Another good tip
  • Avoid negative people Gee why?
  • Use time wisely This is a good tip for undergrads that usually let their new found freedom from their parents go to the head
  • Always make copies of important papers I read this as use the copy machines, give the university more money
  • Repair anything that doesn't work properly I'm not sure what this means exactly. I've never seen this mentioned as a stress relief tip.
  • Ask for help with the jobs you dislike Yes ask for "help" trick others into doing the things you don't want to do.
  • Break large tasks into bite size portions
  • Look at problems as challenges Change you outlook on life!
  • Look at challenges differently Then immediately change it again!
  • Smile!!! I smile because I have no idea whats going on right now. :D
  • Be prepared for rain How exactly does this relieve stress?
  • Pet a friendly dog/cat Get rabies. Seriously this isn't a good idea in Israel all the cats are feral. I do feed them a lunch but I don't ever try to pet them.
  • Don't know all the answers Fail your exams raise your stress level...
  • Say something nice to someone I like your does this relieve stress?
  • Walk in the rain But you told me to be prepared for rain earlier? So am I prepared for rain and walking in it or am I just walking in the rain and getting wet which would stress me out. It doesn't rain here that often anyway so I was surprised to see two references to rain in this list.
  • Schedule play time into everyday Well there is a playground in the student village for the families that live here. Somehow I think they would look at me funny if I tried the swings. I don't think they could hold my weight anyway.
  • Take a bubble bath The apartments in the Student Village only have showers I'm not sure why this is on the list.
  • Be aware of the decisions you make I am what?
  • Believe in yourself Don't stop Believin'...
  • Stop saying negative things to yourself So earlier it said to avoid negative people but if you are negative should you avoid yourself too?
  • Visualize yourself winning Find that special mirror from Harry Potter stare into it and slowly waste away
  • Develop your sense of humor This list is definitely helping with that.
  • Stop thinking tomorrow will be a better today O.o This is my favorite tip on the list I think it was originally in Hebrew and put through an online translator or something because wow that's just awful!
  • Have goals for yourself Are these different than the priorities I set for myself above?
  • Say "hello" to a stranger Another tip that is not a good idea in Israel just my luck the person wouldn't speak English. Or if I spoke to a man they might be offended that I was talking to them.
  • Ask a friend for a hug I need a hug....this does not relieve stress
  • Look up at the stars I live in the city not possible
  • Practice breathing slowly I don't think this would make me less stressed out.
  • Learn to whistle a tune I can't whistle. Frustrate self by attempting to whistle then get stressed by my lack of ability to whistle
  • Do a brand new thing I don't have time I'm studying for exams!
  • Stop a bad habit Exam week is not the time to try to break a bad habit I think this would just increase your stress level
  • Take time to smell the flowers There aren't too many flowers to smell here...
  • Find support from others Good idea a support network can help
  • Ask someone to be your "vent-partner" The idea of asking anyone to be my vent partner makes me laugh just picturing the expression on their face.
  • Do it today or else!
  • Work at being cheerful and optimistic Fake it until you make it!
  • Put safety first This is halfway down the second column instead of you know....first?
  • Strive for Excellence NOT perfection Decent tip
  • Stretch your limits a little each day
  • Stand up and stretch Just not during the exams because you can't although it would help relieve stress during the exam.
  • Always have a plan "B" Is a plan "B" different than a plan B?
  • Memorize a joke Israeli humor is different than American humor they won't understand your joke.
  • Be responsible for your feelings How is this a stress relief tip?
  • Learn to meet your own needs But earlier tips seemed to suggest building a support network?
  • Become a better listener Huh? Sorry I zoned out there for a moment.
  • Know your limitations and let others know them,too I'm really bad a math....and I'm still stressed out even though you all know!
  • Exercise everyday I walk up and down the hill to school every day does that count?
  • Go on a picnic In the winter get sick right before exams.....
  • Take a different route to work There is only one way from the dorms to campus....
  • Leave work early (with permission) I'm glad they added the with permission...they will not be responsible for any consequences of you leaving work early!
  • Write a note to a far away friend Why far away why not a close friend?
  • Recognize the importance of unconditional love Recognized....I'm still stressed....
  • Remember that stress is an attitude No its not its an actual physiological response...isn't it?
  • Keep a journal or a blog :)
  • Remember you always have options Except failure that is never an option!
  • Quite trying to fix other people Unless you are a counseling major
  • Get enough sleep Just remember to set your alarm so you get up in time for your exam!
  • Talk less and listen more
  • Freely praise other people I really appreciate everyone that reads my blog. I love you guys! And I'm still stressed !
Hopefully my own style of humor and sarcasm translated okay. I thought you would enjoy knowing how to cope with stress.


  1. "Stop thinking tomorrow will be a better today" was pretty hilariously terrible. Thanks for sharing these tips, they certainly made Eric and I laugh a lot.

    How exciting that you have a trip back to the states! Have a fantastic time and eat lots of great American food for me! I hope your exams went well and you can have some time to relax.

  2. You say the Israelis won't get your joke? What kind of humor do they have? Do you have an example of their humor (other than the dancing cows, which I do remember).

    Glad you've survived this long. BTW -- I think one is missing a comma. How about "Stop thinking, tomorrow will be a better today". That advice is bound to improve stress and grades.

    Good luck, joy and a fried egg sandwich.

  3. Oh what fun I have reading your blogs. Your sense of humor and sarcasm are so funny and catching. Final exams do sound stressful and I feel for the younger students who are in a new country trying to understand the nuances of the culture. You made the brochure come alive with multiple meanings. I know you have been suprised to find yourself missing your new life, foods and being surrounded by so much history. I'm sure the you will be going out to get a falafel the first chance you get.

    I've loved, enjoyed and cherished every moment of the past 16 days you got to spend with your Dad, me and extended family. We are all so proud of you and are caught up in your passion for your studies. While I miss you already dear girl I wouldn't dream of keeping you from your goal, dreams and thrist for adventure. You have your Dad's and my unconditional love and full support always.

    Love and hugs,