Wednesday, November 18, 2020

Unfazed by exams, a later in life development

Yesterday I had my PD3 language exam. PD3 is the highest official Danish ministry exam set at the level you need to pass to obtain Danish citizenship and amongst other things to be able to practise as a doctor or dentist etc here as a foreigner. It's probably the first time I have sat an exam since I was 23 years old (as far as I can remember anyway). Obviously there are other requirements for citizenship too that will come with time but this is the language part anyway. Ideally, I would have preferred to sit it after being in Denmark a bit longer (which is more normal) but my passive Danish knowledge meant I was thrown in at the deep end in January and this was of course compounded by lockdown followed by two hours a day being knocked off our teaching schedule once we started back. 

As a young woman, I found exams quite stressful. I'd be nervous, I'd find it hard to sleep, I'd worry and more. This exam should be a big deal for me as it is my only way back to the EU passport I'm about to be stripped of, very much against my will, and as far as I am concerned against my rights... How exactly is it that I can have my citizenship simply removed? Anyway, that's a different blog post so let's not go there for now.

I went to bed entirely unfazed on Monday night, I slept like a baby, other than the fact that I'd had to set my alarm slightly earlier in case the car park was full. Even when I turned over the first paper and found it way harder than any past paper I had done in class, there was simply no effect on my adrenalin.

So am I just a smug git who assumes I'll pass with flying colours? I have done reasonably well in my class work this term, so it could be construed as that, but the truth couldn't be further from the mark. The reason none of it stressed me is entirely different and very personal, probably not something anyone in the class (other perhaps than my friend Slava, who I mentioned it to very briefly once in the beginning) could guess. 

The reason behind the new calm Phyllis is that two years ago, almost to the day, I was in a very different situation to the one I am in today. And that experience changed me and my outlook on what was important and what wasn't forever. It changed everything in my life. I'll put a link here as there's no point in typing the whole story up again, but the reality is that this exam doesn't matter. If I were to do badly, I could sit it again, or I could choose never to do it. Waiting to hear if I got 50% or less, 70% or more doesn't matter. Compared to the hell of waiting to hear if you are going to live long enough to see your kids grow up, how could it ever matter? Two years ago I remember sitting waiting for my phone to ring, knowing the person on the other end would be telling me if I would live or die and still I had the balls to answer that phone call and try to act casual as I awaited those results. Quite frankly, if you can do that, you can do anything. Every piece in the jigsaw puzzle that was my life fell into an entirely different place after that. Since then, life's priorities, life's goals and the way I approach things have entirely changed. 

It is probably also one of the reasons I am here today, sitting this exam. I'm not sure pre-2018 Phyllis would have had the courage to restart her life from scratch but post-2018 Phyllis knows deep down what matters and what doesn't and moreover she knows she can do anything, as long as she has her health.

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