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PhDzilla vs Samurai Schaf—Exam Angst Strategies

For the newly arrived readers of this blog, if you do not know what a PhDzilla is you can read this up in earlier posts e.g.: Turning into PhDzilla

A rite of passage for the species of PhDzillas is called Viva or Viva Voce, a Latin term that translates into ‘aloud’. It is the most significant rite for PhDzillas to become full members of the monstrous society and mark the transition from fledgling to fully grown monster.

Now imagine our most favourite monster the one, the only: PhDzilla facing no more than 4 nights of irregular sleep with exam nightmares and three endless days of waiting for THE DAY:

The most important test or exam of PhDzilla’s life is at the core of this rite.

This test will take place in the halls of knowledge, perpetual challenge and gargantuan bureaucracy, locked into a chamber—surrounded by the susurration of unsuspecting undergraduate students, who may or may not slip a compassionate glance at the sign on the door ‘Please do not enter. Exam in progress.’—facing three venerabilities of the field, with the only backup permitted PhDzilla’s mentor or supervisor.

In this situation ‘aloud’ is all but what PhDzilla hopes this exam is going to be.

In other countries this rite is called ‘The Defense’ our monster always thought that this term is so much more appropriate than ‘aloud’.

Three days to go! You will remember PhDzilla’s accidents with chewing on fellow students and destroying coffee dispensers when under stress. Our monster is in peril!

What if she accidentally chews on one of the venerable examiners? What if the nervousness brings on the physical changes that accompany this rite of passage in the middle of the exam—after all slow roasting examiners due to uncontrolled fire breathing would certainly impact on the result [in case you are not familiar with the latest research in PhDzillas the mini-monsters turn into fully fledged, winged and fire-breathing dragons, ones they pass this rite of passage].

So our monster decided to leave the realms of academia and roam the wilderness for the time being—eyes gleaming, the green scales sparkling with anxiety, and her hiking backpack full chocolate, coffee and an apple for each day out.

Nothing helped, not even the strenuous hike over the hills into Rannoch Moor, her exam-angst eventually filled the monster pressure built up and our poor friend felt like exploding. When she came to herself again, the physical transformation had changed her into a fully-fledged dragon, steam rose out of her nostrils disturbing the monster’s view, when she finally could see again a strange figure materialized in front of her.

“You put on an impressive show there my dear.”, the strange figure stated nonchalantly.

“And what are you, if I may asked?”, the monster inquired still hazed by the transformation.

“I am Ronan the Samurai Schaf.”

“The what?”

“Samurai Schaf.”

“I’ve never heard of a Samurai Schaf before!”

“And I have never seen anything like you before. Which shows that our experiences are restricted and assumptions misleading.”, Ronan answered indignant.

“I am not an anything, I am a PhDzilla!—at least until 5 minutes ago, now I am not so sure anymore.”

“Hm to me you look rather like a post-graduate students who lost the plot before an exam.”

“Well, this is one way to see it.”, PhDzilla answered.

“I could help you to calm down for your exam.”, Ronan offered irenic.

“How do you know? I mean about the exam and my total freak-out and all that.”

“What matters is that I do—not how. Now sit down and take some deep slow breaths!” Ronan commanded.

PhDzilla let her impressive backside plump onto the soggy ground and tried to focus on the strange encounter.

“Now continue with the breathing and remember:

When you breathe in, experience breathing in.
When you breathe out, be fully conscious that
you are breathing out.
If you cherish and practice this, it will bear great fruit.
Whatever you are doing and wherever you are, you
will find steadiness, calm, and concentration if you
become conscious of your breathing.”*

“This is much better.”, PhDzilla finally said.

“Look even my nostrils stopped smoking, yeah!”

~ to be continued

To further tackle exam-angst: check out this website


Categories: Teaching

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Nathalie Sheridan

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