Break in Perspectives #3: Semester Break

It’s semester break! Find out what this sacred time of the year means for our student Michèle and her lecturer Mona.

Portrait picture of Michèle RitterMichèle Ritter, Student

“January was a tough year, but we made it!”

This statement pretty much describes my current mood. Wow, all these exams are done now. And a much cooler time than the last two months is about to start. As a student I guess you will never really like January. You all know the talks about how the year actually starts in February, right? And I think there is something truthful about that. When you are finally done with all the deadlines by December, it is all about getting the exams prepped during January. And delivering your knowledge in February. Not really the festive time you expect to have.

So, since Christmas we pretty much put ourselves through a huge load of work which we now can put away on our shelves. Our shelves become archives of achievements over time and with after every term, they become a bit more loaded. And these shelves now mean work for our lecturers (happy correcting season!).

So what do we do now? Well, now it is time for us to get some new energy, since that degree is about to take some more rounds. We have now two weeks to enjoy the study-free time and to pursue our own interests. What I will do? Finally read some books which are ready on another shelf. During the semester, it is always hard to find the time for a good book, and now it is time for something different to read than capital markets, standard deviations and bond options…

Besides that, I look forward to some fun days up in the mountains, or wherever my inspiration takes me. May February stand for finding new energy and having a good time!


Portrait picture of Mona MeyerMona Meyer, lecturer

This is probably one of the busiest and most intense times of the year. The term ‘break’ in this context really only describes the fact that no classes are being held.

Semester breaks are perceived differently by lecturers and university staff. Some complain about the number of exams that need to be corrected, others whine because there is less time for other things (projects, research, or holidays).

Personally, I enjoy reading my students’ assignments and papers. Of course, reading and grading each and every paper is time-consuming, but hey, isn’t it a good feeling to see what your students have achieved and how they have performed? It shows the results of how they applied what they have learned. And it gives me the opportunity to reflect about my own didactic methods.

However, there is this one challenge about correcting exams: Deciphering handwriting. Argh. How do I handle this? It’s simple: Everything that is not readable cannot be assessed (students, take notice of this stipulation).

Apart from the correction marathon, I use the lecture-free time to plan and organise the coming semester. You can’t imagine how tough this can be. Picture this: You put down cards like a memory game, consisting of 12 dates, 16 topics, 12 experts, and 9 start-ups. Also consider the availability, location decision, and qualification.

Further I design new assignments for the coming semester. Specific tasks are being formulated and discussed with the Dean.

We have not talked about the actual ‘break’ yet. Well, while students prepare for their exams (usually by the beginning of January), I can use this time to enjoy some days off. I don’t have to tell you twice how I enjoyed myself during the worcation (=working in the morning + vacation in the afternoon). Michèle has confessed that the pictures I have posted made her feel jealous, but also motivated her to study.

After my return, I am able to allocate more time to my DBA until the spring semester starts in March.

Contact the authors:

Mona Meyer, mona.meyer@fhnw.ch

Michèle Ritter, michele.ritter@students.fhnw.ch

Read also:

Break in Perspectives #1: Deadlines
Break in Perspectives #2: To-Do-Lists

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