After 18: Sophia McCarron

Second semester.

Sophia McCarron and her friends at the social policy and political science ball on Saturday. — Courtesy Sophia McCarron

Every year The MV Times asks four recent high school graduates to write about their experiences during their first year after graduation. Sophia McCarron graduated from MVRHS in 2017, and is studying at the University of Edinburgh in Edinburgh, Scotland.

Although I’m halfway through second semester, I’ve only had about five weeks of classes. In the U.K., lecturers have been striking nationwide in protest of pension cuts. In light of this, all of my classes were canceled for the past month. Some of my lectures are still displaced, as a group of students have occupied one of the main lecture theaters to show support for the strike. Although the picketers have returned to teaching, the question of the pension plans remain unresolved, and the students are still sleeping in George Square Lecture Theaters. There are questions as to how the missed class time will affect students in exams, and in regard to the return of tuition fees. This past month has shown me that I need a level of structure in my life. With weeks of open time, I accomplished a lot less than when I was in classes, even though I had less time and the same amount of material to learn.

When the classes actually run, I’m taking “Making of the Modern World,” “Political Thinkers,” and “Global Religions B.” which focuses on Africa and Asia. This semester I’ve found my workload to have increased rather markedly. This could be an effect of the fact that I’m writing this piece a day after turning in two major essays and a presentation, but I feel as though this semester I have had to dedicate more of my time to schoolwork and organizing myself. Since the courses are structured where there are required readings and optional ones, it’s forcing me to be honest with myself about how well I actually know the material.

It’s been easy to procrastinate. The weather is getting warmer, and with some 50° days, the outdoors is looking a lot more appealing than when we had “the Beast from the East,”a snowstorm in February that dumped about three inches of snow. It brought Scotland to a standstill, and with reference to the weather I’m used to getting at home, I was not impressed. Stores were empty of bread, milk, and other basics for days, there were red alerts, and public offices were closed. Now that weather seems like a distant memory, there are crocuses blooming, and people are lounging in parks trying to make up the vitamin D deficiency they’ve gained over the winter.

It feels entirely counterintuitive, but even though I’ve had my first full week of classes in a month, I’m already planning for spring break at the beginning of April. We have the last three weeks of April off, followed by exams. I’m going to go to Copenhagen for a few days at the beginning, study for exams in the middle, and then go to Malaga for a week at the end. This semester I have had more breaks, so I’ve tried to capitalize on that and travel as much as possible. My parents visited France in February, so I met them in Paris, and then we rented a car and drove down to Normandy for a week. I’d been to Paris previously, and it was really nice to get out of the city and see a new part of the country. While there I had cheese for every meal, and was reluctant to go back to my flat’s kitchen and what could barely be termed “cooking.”

Now that we have two weeks of normalcy at school before break, I’m going to stake out a spot in the Meadows and join everyone else who is trying to get some sun after the dark winter. I’ll catch up on coursework and try not to think about how in a few weeks I’ll be in an exam hall writing an essay on Marxist political theory or if the cold war ever ended in Asia.