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The Accidental Student

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The marks are on the website! fellow student emails. Heart pounding, stomach churning, it's with utter trepidation that I log onto Moodle, Birkbeck's VLE (Virtual Learning Environment) to find out what I got for my first assessed world cinema essay. A feeling not too dissimilar to way back when I had to open a brown envelope containing my O level results, except for this I have to scramble my way around a website. Nerves eventually turn to relief, as I certainly fared a lot better than I had at 16. A high merit. It really shouldn't matter but for some inexplicable reason it does. A lengthy conversation ensues, whereby I dissect the mark and comments with my husband and later with a very patient friend, Dr S, who is probably wishing that she is anything but an academic. My eldest son reminds me - rather haughtily - that it's actually irrelevant what other students get, it's just my grade that matters. This is apparently what I've been telling the boys for years. I attempt an explanation then give up. I know he's right.

That was Saturday. By Wednesday the mark has been removed off Moodle and I'm told that it went up in error and is now in the process of being second marked. Back to uncertainty and obsessive Moodle checking then. Attempting to refocus on my research project - the next assignment - proves to be about as easy as finding a pure beef ready meal.

Days press on. The early signs of spring are slowly beginning to emerge and the distance between when the essay was written (Xmas holidays) and now feels cavernous. Having been immersed in the exploration of world cinema, I am now in an MA void. There are no lectures this term, only a few tutorials. The books I'm supposed to read are gathering dust. As it happens my mother-in-law is also waiting to hear her grade. She was writing her first essay over the same period and we would spend many a conversation discussing issues of plagiarism, referencing and word count.

We are also in the throes of the film award season. The Oscars are imminent. In world-cinema-speak this could be perceived as Hollywood flexing its hegemonic muscle. You see I've picked up that within the world cinema academic community there's a rather equivocal view of Hollywood; in fact a very loose definition of world cinema is any non-Hollywood film. But hegemony aside, I'm intrigued to know who will win best documentary feature, especially as two Israeli films have been nominated.

Finally, nine days after the initial posting my essay mark is confirmed. Emails dart within our group in the 24 hours that follow. Although in the interim I have managed a trip to the library, examined my diary to plan work around this project and watched several Israeli films in preparation, there does seem to be a psychological barrier to moving on. Conveniently half term holiday also manages to get in the way. But time to shake off all prevarication. Transnationalism in Israeli film is calling.