In praise of learning and memorising hard
Charmain Li, Imperial College London
It's not uncommon to see students stay awake for insanely long periods of time, especially when out partying and enjoying themselves.
For students at a highly competitive university with an absurd workload, this ability is essential. My hallmates who study medicine often joke that our late bed-times - which normal people would regard as waking-up time - lets them practise for the inevitable sleep-deprived status of being a doctor.
Yet despite exhausting ourselves, we students always find a way to bounce back. We manage to meet deadlines and get the job done.
It amazes me how humans have a phenomenal capacity to achieve great things, especially with the correct motivation.
Marathon runners often complain about hitting 'the wall'. Authors often complain about 'writer's block'. And students just generally complain and complain.
While revising for my finals last May, I remember thinking my brain had reached saturation point. Yet I carried on and somehow managed to learn what I had to.
When I was handed a dozen works of literature at the start of my first year here, I thought it was impossible that I would be able to read and analyse them and give a 15-minute presentation on any of them by heart.
Yet, two years later, I can still quote passages from those books, including Arthur Miller's The Crucible and Sophocles' Oedipus Rex, and William Wordsworth's poem, Daffodils.
It's amazing how long-term study does wonders for your knowledge and ability to learn more.
We are surprisingly good at remembering things. Revision for an optional chemistry paper had me reciting the entire pharmacology course's essential drugs list day in and day out, much like practising a musical piece over and over again, to the annoyance of my friends.
But imagine my delight when, while helping a sick friend buy medicine, I could start reeling off details about various useful drugs.