I have one day left of Fifth Year, which is crazy. We got the news today that our English exam and thus last day have been cancelled for the funeral, so I'm just going to review Fifth Year now and tomorrow I'll talk about my plans for the summer. I won't go through everything that happened because I'm saving that for my 2015 Review, so I'll just discuss how I found Fifth.
Anyway, enough introduction.
I'll be honest, I had a hard time settling into Fifth Year. It's a huge step up from both TY and 3rd Year. It struck me on the first day that I had every class every day, which had never happened before. So few chances to delay homework.
Maths was hard at first, too. Early in the year, the teacher gave us this big "fire-and-brimstone" talk about how hard it is and how we should all drop to Pass, but three classes of us went into Honours nonetheless. There's only one left after a lot of streaming. I love it now, but for the first month or so I couldn't do the homework at all, would understand it when we corrected it in class and then wouldn't understand the next night's homework and the cycle would repeat. It was a relief when that stopped.
That's from someone who got an A1 in JC Maths. The pace definitely picks up.
Things were also different socially. I went from having 8 classes a day with one tightly-knit TY class to having having maybe two or three classes with any one person at maximum. Our form classes totally changed, so that I know only a couple of people in mine. I hang out in a completely different group at lunch because I've drifted from people. It's okay, but weird.
There were a lot of positive things socially, though. I made plenty of new friends this year and gained a lot of people I consider mentees - people younger than me in chess and Young Scientist.
This year, I got even better acquainted with the school. I did of course get to know it well in TY (it happens when you're in the AV room at 4 a.m., or when you have to smuggle in pizza for Yearbook), but again with Young Scientist I spent most of Christmas break in school, eating in the staff room. I also lost any residual fear of authority I had after that break.
I love the subject choices. While it bit me with History, I absolutely adore having Physics and Chemistry as full subjects. And it's really interesting to see other people's wide variety of interests. I have one friend who does both Art and Music, and another who does Chemistry and Economics - and then there are people who do Accounting or Home Ec or any of those subjects I hadn't even considered. Fascinating.
You have to study. I didn't study for my Junior Cert, apart from a week or two doing Maths before the exams and a little Music. In fairness, I did work hard during Second Year. But still, I did very little in 3rd Year and still got 8 As. That's a lot harder in 5th Year - you do have to study. I didn't until the parent-teacher meeting, when they made me. I had been getting As, Bs and the odd C, but with work I can get As and the odd B. I like how there's no stigma attached to studying now. It's not uncool anymore because it just has to be done.
I adore being a senior. We were already whiteshirts in TY so we got to use the senior line and other privileges, but it's gotten even better now. Teachers aren't afraid to swear the odd time or talk straight with us, and they take us seriously and trust us (usually). I think that's a mark of a good teacher, being able to adjust your teaching for different levels. Some can't and are still too authoritarian. We also get responsibility, which can be nice.
I'm not quite ready to think about being a Sixth Year. I'm sure it will intensify the good things mentioned here, but as a teacher told me in my first week of school, "6th Year is a year of blood, sweat and tears." I hate how the teachers go on about how much pressure we'll be under - I think there'd actually be less pressure if they just stopped saying that.
Anyway, I'll try to get a bit organised before then (investing in some hardbacks instead of loose sheets would be a start) and make a good stab at it.