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Tornado’in  Mid-terms!

By paultogneri

Monday last week started off great! It was a glorious sunny and warm day. I thought I had put away shorts for the year but today looked like a good day to pull them out again. Wearing shorts in Scotland in any month is usually something of a risk, so getting to do so in October felt like a novelty.

Off I skipped to campus listening to some mellow summer-like music. Everything seemed great. However, even before I emerged from the Foggy Bottom metro a blast of wind hit me at the bottom of the escalator - unusual considering how nice it had been 15/20 minutes previous. Upon emerging from the escalator like a curious meerkat, I could see my glorious, everything-is-right-with-the-world day had got a bit windier and colder.

I had taken about two steps outside the metro when my blissful summer beats were interrupted by an alarm noise I wasn’t sure my iPhone was capable of making.


“Tornado Warning in this area… Take shelter now.”

… ‘I wonder if that’s why Obama’s cancelled his trip?’… if I had an iPhone 6 I’d probably be able to read the whole notification from Politico. …

I was heading for a class at the Vern but needed to print a paper off in the Library first. I thought that could suffice as my shelter, plus it didn’t seem that windy. I made it to the Library with relative ease, printed off my paper and looked longingly at iPhone 6 deals online. It was getting close to 1pm and the start of my class, so I thought I better make a move for the Vern Express. Nobody was really bothering about the Tornado warning, so I thought to hell to with it and made a run to the bus.

Anyone out, around campus between 1230 and 1pm can testify to the ridiculousness of the rain and wind at that moment. I could only have been outside for 30seconds but I was soaked through and hating the decision I took to wear shorts. Nonetheless, everything turned out A-OK and when I finally got home it made the day appear all the more adventurous.

My mum was somewhat concerned when she seen my Facebook post advertising my excitement of a tornado warning, questioning if I was in a basement or whatever keeping safe. I reassured I was never in harms way… not on a rickety school bus firing along the Potomac in a rain storm which made seeing 5 ft in front of you difficult.

Nonetheless, it as something I really didn’t expect to experience this year. I thought any weather difficulties would come in the form of snow days…

This week has been full of midterms and they are tiring! It’s kinda funny, we don’t really do midterms in Scotland - we normally have one paper due for class followed by an exam at the very end - but with American television we are too aware of what they are and the fear they can instill into every student’s life. Our assessments back home are also generally spaced out, which made cramming them pretty much all into one week, something of a surprise.

I had perhaps the very worst start to them. I turned up for my first class on Tuesday a little earlier than normal. It was a helpful review session ahead of our midterm, so I was eager to catch as much of it as possible - I’ve done enough college courses in my life to know that if Professors care enough to host a review session, they normally give you some useful hints and a clue for the actual tests.

So there I was, one of the first to arrive for class that day. But something was definitely odd, it took me a couple seconds and then as the realization of what was going fell over me like a blanket of fear.

I began panicking and quickly grabbed by bag, looking for the syllabus I was pretty sure was in there somewhere. I eventually found it and my worst fears - at that precise moment - were realized. The midterm was today! I had, for some unbeknownst reason switched the dates of my classes around in my head.

I had less than ten minutes before the class started, during those moments every thought went through my head. How much can I cram in those few minutes? Should I cut my losses, leave the class and plead for a do-over with the Professor? This was worth 50% of my grade, if I walk out with 0% will that screw up my entire year, perhaps my entire degree? Could I drop the course without breaking visa rules? Would I be able to make it up next year? I wonder how Hilary and Shawna can help me? Are they gonna be pissed? I wonder if a Tornado warning might save me?

Getting sidetracked thinking about Tornadoes basically made the decision for me. I had an answer book in front of me, the Professor had arrived and I was just going to have to give it a go.

The question sheets got handed round and felt like I was the last to get it. We had to answer 1 question out of a possible 3, I’m not particularly religious but I was definitely praying for some divine intervention at that point. And then, it fell in front of me…

Question 1. Scottish Independence….

I think I did ok.

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