After I got back from Christmas, I jumped right into the chaos of final exams. Finals exams in Europe are weird. They’re not your normal review of past assignments, tests, etc. First of all, there are no past assignments. It’s lecture after lecture for a semester, and then BAM…test time. Here’s the process:
1. Walk into classroom to meet one-on-one with teacher.
2. 10 minutes of getting asked anything the teacher wants…from class material or not.
3. Experience feelings of uneasiness.
4. Leave classroom and sulk in room while eating beef jerky.
All jokes aside, it’s actually not too bad. The part that I find most frustrating is that you can get asked certain questions that you might not be very familiar with. If it’s a question on a written test, odds are it’s a very small portion of your grade. When it takes 2 minutes to talk about it, that’s 20% of your time in a European exam. So, you may have learned many things and memorized have the books you’ve read, but if you get asked that one question that you’re not familiar with, you’re dropping percentage points faster than a president’s approval rating. It’s also hard to understand how the teacher can properly analyze the effort you’ve put into countless hours in and out of class by asking you a few questions in a 10 minute time slot. The good news is that I passed all my classes with decent grades.
This picture of my friend Jordan sums up me seeing my grades.
Shortly after finals, chaos struck again. We have parties here at the NAC throughout the year (Thanksgiving, Christmas, etc.) and the 1st year class was put in charge of this year’s Mardi Gras party. People were put in charge of various things, so my responsibility became entertainment. We put together some videos, a band, and ridiculous costumes to keep everyone entertained. The brass band played great tunes like “Do What You Wanna,” “When the Saints Go Marching In,” and “House of the Rising Sun.” A friend of mine and I walked around dressed as Mardi Gras jesters and made sure everyone was having a good time. My jester friend, Aaron Becker, and I are in the photo below. (This was a wonderful opportunity for humility…)
Before I share one of the things that kept me super-busy, it needs some context…
I mentioned to a guy on my floor that I miss good ol’ American breakfasts. Bacon, eggs, biscuits & gravy…mmm. He told me that he and some other guys met in the community kitchen every Thursday morning for breakfast…at 4:30. Long story short, I discerned that my love of bacon and eggs far outstrips my desire to sleep. I’ve been going every week now since October. It’s great. Last week, we had avocado scrambled eggs and cream cheese mashed potatoes with bacon. Ignatius would call this a springboard into spiritual consolation…a huge springboard. I’m going to stop right now before food talk derails this whole thing. It’s called “Rooster Club.”
One morning, I told the guys about the cigar box guitars that I build. Next thing I know, we’re scrambling to get 4 of them built in time for the Mardi Gras party. One of the guys plays a mean harmonica and the rest of us have some basic guitar playing down. We hit the woodshop and the building began.
Standing in the student workshop.
We got them done the day before the party and got in a jam session or two before the show. After the party, our equivalent of a Macy’s Day Parade (Aaron and I standing on food carts while pelting candy at people) travelled down the hallway to the lounge where the Rooster’s played their first gig. It was great. We were a little rough around the edges, but so are cigar box guitars. We even sang a little Johnny Cash. It was a great time of music, fun, and fraternity before the penitential season of Lent begins.
Cigar Box Guitar
Here is a short jam session that my friend Stephen Gadberry and I did to show our friends and families. Just like the concert, it’s a little gritty, but it’s a lot of fun. Stephen sure adds a lot to the group, he’s a heck of a harmonica player.
Last, but certainly not least, the first year men here at the NAC were instituted as lectors in January. It’s a great opportunity to learn more about God’s Word and what it really means to proclaim it to His people.