Beyond the Finish Line

Following the drama and jubilation of last week, it was important from Monday morning to return directly into the working mindset. As tempting as it may be to look back on past success, this term’s programme is still far from complete.

However, the end is coming into view.

It was easy to overlook the troubles this week would present; having built up the week of Silverstone to be the toughest, it indirectly gave the impression that the remaining two weeks would be a mere walk in the park.

Admittedly this week hasn’t been so hectic, but writing this final essay was a real effort.

The overarching task of these past seven days has been clear: complete the hat-trick of assignments, finalise them, and then submit them for marking. I was half-excited, but half-exhausted during this week’s research period. To be honest, all the planning, and the intensity of writing really does wear you down.

This five week period has been a different challenge to anything I’ve ever faced before at school. I will not condescend my former self by saying it has been more difficult, but it has certainly been a different set of challenges. To the left of me this week was a pile of seventeen books, all accumulated from the past three weeks of writing. I had them scattered around the room, all opened on particular pages with important reasons, yet I would then forget why and end up sitting there in a daze. I had to keep going though, this essay would be the last one.

“Just get it done.” It was so easy to starting thinking like this; another mental aspect which I had never realised. The essay was a real pain, because it was so frustratingly difficult to coherently write.

You would think China’s rapid economic growth was a simple tale of unique successes, but no, it’s a complex epic of communism, capitalism, and socialist market economics over a period of four reforms spanning five decades. We definitely saved the biggest headache for last. I fretted over graphs, formatting, and almost everything I was trying to analyse.


Despite the struggles, I pushed myself to begin writing earlier. Another All-Dayer was on the cards, but by starting earlier on Thursday I could avoid exhausting myself to laziness on the Saturday where I would have to finish it. The “All-Dayer V” was thus a shorter shift- starting at 8am and finishing by 6pm.

I of course wanted to get it done, but I wanted to do it well. There would be absolutely no satisfaction derived from submitting an essay which I was not confident represented the very best I could have possibly produced.

Which is why it took longer; a further day was even required to ensure they read well and were ready for submission. In the process of proofreading saw the beauty of the pact I have  established with Joe realised; thanks to his comments the necessary ordeal became much more straightforward. Today, first drafts developed into fourth drafts, but the climactic moment eventually came around. I submitted all three essays online, and then proceeded to labour seventeen books back to the library. When I got back I don’t think I’ve ever reclined so hard in my chair, perhaps because my spine had completely collapsed from the weight of those books, but goodness me it really was the relief I had envisioned.

I then treated myself to a Hawaiian pizza which I had spent the entire week looking forward to, and I would’ve shared a photo, but half of it was already going down my throat by the time the idea came.

And so I now sit here slightly in shock that the three assignments which I had been dreading so much during the reading week are over. Obviously, me being me, I’ve resubmitted every paper about five times and began fretting over the invisible similarity report on one of my assignments, I need to drop the intensity and take a break. But then again that’s very much a normal response, and an integral part of this time of year; it’s meant to test your mental capacity, and this week in particular I’ve seen what the stresses of university can really do to people.

Around SOAS lately though I’ve really seen the more human elements in its thousands of students shine through. We’re all under pressure, but particularly in my classes I feel it’s a struggle made worthwhile by the community you share it with. I have people in every class now who I’m excited to see, and I walk out of those classes smiling, leaving with the same energy as when I entered.

Additionally, basketball on Fridays with Paul and friends has been so enjoyable. I’m finding a peculiar interest in basketball, despite being relatively short and white. Even though I banged my knee cap out of place (again), this week’s session with The Chairman, Hao, was a great way to relieve the stress of what was a mind-frying economics lecture.

With Monday morning fast approaching, a new week is once again on the horizon, only this time it will be the last week. We are into the final straining stretch of this five week sprint, and even with the essays submitted, there is no excuse to ease our efforts just yet. Different challenges are imminent for term 2’s final few days- a Japanese presentation on Tuesday followed by an exam on Friday. I’m really tempted to speak about Morning Musume again for the show-and-tell, but unfortunately my billions of CDs are all sitting comfortably far away in Maidstone.

Alongside the revival of Japanese language comes an influx of more flashcards. While cementing last week’s topics, this week’s topics shall also be covered to ensure the workload doesn’t spill over into the spring break.

And so after a properly draining week, every essay for this first year is now effectively behind us. Turning over into page five of my schedule, we are now ticking the final boxes, as the academic year comes to a close. Even then however, the end will not have truly arrived. I found out that my final exam happens to be on the final day of SOAS’ exam period on 6th June, and so I suppose the year is going to be a series of endings before we can say it’s really over. Even when this year is done, it is of course only the first step of a longer journey, and so I suppose we just have to keep moving through each period as they come and go.

When one challenge ends, another soon appears- we’re never really at the definitive end, and so I suppose whatever the hurdle, we just have to continue to push, and go beyond the finish line.

The post-essay, post 10K run Warren.



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