Last Lasts

The sun is out again for the day of my colloquium. I take this as a good omen. It’s a rather chilly day however after all that rain. Autumn is definitely in the air.

Looking back I see I’ven been writing about lasts for over two months now–last practicum assignments, last PVLs, last lectures, last exams and so on. Only today I’m finally running out of lasts. This is the last day of my last term at UAS. The last time I’m here as a student. The last coffee purchased at the student price in the cafeteria. Unless a catastrophe happens in the last moment, at 11 A.M. it will all be over. In less than three hours I won’t be a student anymore.

My practicum partner did a very good job yesterday I thought. Her presentation, though delivered without any notes just based on the slides (which is kind of the form that is expected of us here), was very clear, structured, with grammatically perfect sentences, and appeared completely unrehearsed and relaxed. I was really impressed. Apparently more so than her examiners who gave her a straight A instead of the A+ I had certainly expected. Their justification sounded somewhat opaque to me, but then of course I’ve only heard it second-hand. And in any case, grading a oral presentation or a written essay (like a bachelor thesis), as opposed to a regular exam, is always somewhat subjective and open to a lot of gut feeling. I can certainly attest to that from my own 10-year long experience as a university teacher.

What really bothers me is that they give you only a single grade for both thesis and colloquium combined, and they give it to you orally after the colloquium. So there is really no telling if there ever even was, as the regulations prescribe, a separate grade for the thesis that accounts for 80 percent of the combined grade. Just as easily they might decide on the combined grade only after the oral presentation, based entirely on their current gut feeling. Which would mean that the colloquium, which should count only 20 percent, would in fact more or less determine the whole grade. I’m not saying it’s necessarily so, but if it were you would never know. I wish they were obliged to tell you the grade for the thesis before the colloquium.

Well, on the other hand it’s just as possible that they have agreed on the grade for the thesis in advance and the colloquium is a mere formality.

In any case, my practicum partner was quite happy with her A and I suppose that’s a good thing. In any case for her it’s been over for 20 hours now. I am still waiting. Somewhat tiredly because I slept all of 4.5 hours this night.

My wife is going to attend (I have decided that public means just that, and I dare anybody in that room to send my own wife away!), and so is my practicum partner. I doubt that anybody else plans to show up, though at various stages various people, students and faculty alike, said they would. No matter.

What I do regret is that my eldest daughter can’t be here. Seeing her smiling, supportive face in the audience would make the whole thing a breeze. She so wanted to come. She loves to see her father on a stage. Alas, primary school education is mandatory in Germany (and a good thing too). But we’ll have a celebration tonight with all the family, including my in-laws. And tomorrow morning we’ll be leaving for a short trip to visit the Dutch branch of my wife’s family. And then the new life is about to begin.

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