The Most Testing Of Circumstances

| Learning | June 9, 2014

(At German universities, there is a widespread custom of lecturers offering two dates for the finals – the second one in case you’re sick or otherwise prevented from taking it on the first one, usually proven through a doctor’s note or something of similar value. While this is commonly practiced, it is not set in stone and up to the lecturer – however, not offering an alternative date is almost unheard of.)

Professor: “Just to clarify: I do not grant second chances. There’s only one exam date.”

(The class groans.)

Professor: “Shut it. I don’t want to hear any of it! You people only abuse the alternative exam dates, and I don’t feel like writing a whole new test for you lazy b******s!”

Student #1: “That hasn’t stopped other lecturers from offering an alternative date.”

Professor: “Well, you signed up for MY class, so deal with it.”

Student #1: “I finished my master’s last year and am now adding my second bachelor’s degree and there’s ALWAYS been two dates!”

Professor: “Just because you can pressure other lecturers into it doesn’t mean you can do that with me. One date, period.”

Student #2: “What if someone’s sick?”

Professor: “Tough luck. You’ll have to take it next semester.”

Student #3: “You don’t offer the course next semester, only annually.”

Professor: “Fair point. You’ll have to take it next year.”

(More groaning, but the class accepts its fate. At the end of the semester, two days before the exam, I get struck with gastric flu. My mother, being a doctor, provides me with pounds of meds so I’ll be able to stay in class without running to the bathroom every 30 minutes as well as a surgical mask and sanitizer so I won’t infect anyone else. I show up, pale, unshaven, with 102° fever, and barely responsive due to the medication. I notice I’m not the only one looking sick. I sit down with my friends in the row furthest away from the podium but we get called to the front, so I end up sitting right in front of the professor.)

Professor: “What’s wrong with you?”

Me: “Mean stomach bug.”

Professor: “Was that mask necessary?”

Me: “Unless you want your class or yourself to get it as well, yes.”

Professor: “Is it that bad?”

Me: *annoyed* “Let’s just say it’s rather inconvenient that I can’t stay at home to puke into my own toilet.”

Professor: “Then why didn’t you stay at home?”

Me: *smiling politely* “Because I felt the need to show you what ‘lazy b******s’ look like.”

Research Assistant: “All right, let’s get started! We’ll get the legal stuff out of the way first!”

(He reads off a paper as the professor and I hold each other’s gaze.)

Research Assistant:” Is anyone present who is not feeling that he or she is physically or mentally able to partake in this exam to his or her fullest potential?”

Me: *to the professor while blinking intently for dramatic effect* “Well, I guess that’s my cue.”

(Both then and at the end of the exam I noticed him watching me, so I meticulously cleaned my hands, my pen, and later my table with sanitizer. I was later told that over the course of the exam, my professor glared at me. I did pass, although barely. It turned out that the following years, while I was still enrolled, he suddenly started offering alternative dates for his finals.)

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