June 8th, 2013

happy girl

One down...

...four more to go.

I think it went all right. I'm not sure if I did enough to get a distinction but I think I should be able to fluke a high-ish merit. I was kind of freaking out while walking to the exam venue from the library, and I had to force myself to stop recalling the stuff in my head as I didn't have my notes with me and it would have been pointless to realise that I forgot this particular fact in this particular case fifteen minutes before the exam. I woke up late in the morning which completely foiled my original plan of reaching school at 10 a.m. and giving myself sufficient time to do last-minute cramming before the 2.30 p.m. exam; in the end, I got there at like, 11.30, had the fastest lunch I've had in months (only 40 minutes!), and did some more cramming.

The thing is, I was so tired of reading the same shit over and over again by that time that it was quite a half-hearted effort. I was checking tennis scores, checking Facebook, going to the toilet to do my hair, and even went out to get coffee 1.5 hours before the exam was due to start. I guess if I had reached at 10, I would have felt even more bored and restless.

I freaked out, though, when I saw the questions on the exam paper. I ended up studying only the second half of the Terrorism course and completely abandoned the Definitions topic because I totally didn't have time for it, and as a result, I pretty much only knew the international response to 9/11 (UN Security Council's disregard for human rights in combating terrorism) stuff, the US and British responses to 9/11, and the British's response to terrorism (read: IRA) violence pre-9/11. The seminar on the international response included an article on Al-Qaeda which I did not read, because the link that Prof Gearty provided was subscribers-only and I didn't ask him for the hard copy, so I didn't have that article.

When I saw that Question 3 had the word "Al-Qaida" in it, I was like, not doing this question. Question 4 was about the UN Security Council overreacting to the September 11 attacks and whether regional political and legal institutions have brought an end to that period. I underlined 'political' and wrote '?!' below it but I had no choice; I had to do the question. Predictably, the first question was on Definitions which I skipped so clearly I wasn't doing it; and the second question was on the fucking right to rebel which Prof Gearty said that I could possibly drop when I asked him if I could pick topics for the exam, so obviously I dropped that - and it came out. At least I was smart enough to know that state terrorism won't come out again so I didn't waste time memorising my 75 essay.

Anyway, initially I thought Question 5 would fly, and initially I thought that I had to do it because I had to pick 2 questions out of 5 and I'd already crossed out the first 3...but the more I looked at it, the more I realised that I had no fucking clue what it was asking. That was when I freaked out. "The problem with terrorism as an idea is that it focuses far too much attention on national security as opposed to the security of the people living within the nation that it is said needs to be defended. A fresh approach to what security entails wold help put the threat of terrorism in its proper context and thereby bring about greatly improved liberty for all." Discuss.

?!?!?!?!?!?! The first sentence I understood well enough, but the second sentence completely threw me off. 10 minutes into my 15 minutes reading and essay-planning time later, I decided that there was simply no way in hell I could do it...and so I went back to the Al-Qaida question and realised that it was actually doable. "What is new about Al-Qaida is not the novelty of the organisation's politically-motivated violence; rather it is the response of the Western powers to the threat that the organisation poses." Discuss.

I totally fell into the trap that Prof Gearty said we should avoid during the revision seminar - namely, compartmentalising questions into a particular seminar or topic too quickly and risking a complete misinterpretation of the question. When I first glanced at it, I thought that it was a question asking me to compare, substantively, Al-Qaida with terrorist organisations of yesteryears (which really would have been impossible for me to do)...but it turned out that my initial impression was wrong. It turned out that I could actually use the stuff that I had studied. In the end, I wrote some crap about how Al-Qaida's violence was not novel, and how the response to it was new in the sense that exceptional measures are increasingly becoming normalised. Prof Gearty's entire Liberty & Security book basically advanced that thesis - that the normalisation of the exception is a movement towards 'neo-democracy' by countries like the US and the UK - so I hope he finds the argument convincing. I think it was reasonably well-argued considering I didn't really have a very clear plan as I didn't have enough time to plan it properly, so I hope the shit portion on Al-Qaida is somehow mitigated (significantly) by the rest of the essay.

As for the UN question, I honestly had no fucking idea what these 'political institutions' that asserted pressure on the UN Security Council were, so I literally made one mention to it by mentioning the Council of Europe's guidelines on human rights and counter-terrorism. I didn't read those guidelines, never even looked at them before, and only remembered that such a document exists because I saw it in my class notes when I was going over them over lunch earlier.

Oh fuck. Again, I think the overall argument was reasonably well-advanced, so I hope that makes up for the obvious fact that I didn't read the guidelines. The entire essay was about the European courts' rulings on member states' various implementations of the relevant Security Council resolutions and their human rights defects. Since he liked my formative essay which I didn't think said anything particularly original but advanced a very clear argument backed up with authorities and examples, it seems like that's the kind of essay that he likes to read...and hopefully I managed to do that despite the flaws.

Sigh. If only I had done it perfectly, somehow. This means that there's now added pressure, on top of the existing mountain of pressure, on me to slaughter the rest of the exams. I've already given up on International Law and the Use of Force because I hate it and I don't and can't do well in things that I hate, so I'm gonna have to perform miracles for CCL, International Human Rights Law and...Jurisprudence. And CCL and IHRL are next Monday and Tuesday, back to fucking back.

I'm so screwed. Why am I writing this entry. I should either study some more or go to bed so that I can go to school early and have more time to study. I'm gonna try to finish the model essay that I didn't finish last week for human rights now and then go to bed.