Imagine you had a 4 day weekend off of work. Now imagine the very worst way to spend it. What would be the most miserable thing you could think of? Was "take a 96 hour exam" on the top of your list? Because it's definitely at the top of mine. And that's exactly how I spent the last weekend of February. (Also why I needed a 10 day vacation after!)
On Thursday, February 25th, I downloaded what the Society of Actuaries refers to as the "Final Assessment." Which is silly, because it's far from the final anything you need to complete to be an Actuary, but it is the final of a group of exams I've been taking. The Final Assessment (FA) is a series of case studies that involve a lot of analysis, calculations, and require you to come up with recommendations which then must be documented in a series of professional memos and essays. It's something that would almost be fun if you were given a month to do it, except it must be completed 96 hours (4 days) after you download it. Assuming you sleep and eat during that period, you have less time to work on the exam.
In order to try and maximize my time and efficiency, I decided to check into a hotel for the four days. We're currently living in a one bedroom apartment, and we don't even have a real desk or table to sit at, so I figured I'd be able to get much more done if I had the perfect work set up, and minimal distractions. In case you're wondering, this is what my ideal work environment looked like:
Yes, that's two laptops and an extra monitor among the many papers and reference books I had out. Looking back, I can find this funny. However at the time, it was anything but. I was a ball of stress, and starting to go crazy after a few days. I hadn't been outside, I'd barely talked to anyone, and I'm pretty sure I'd already heard every song the radio had to play multiple times.
It wasn't the worst place to be, though. Although I wasn't super happy then, it was actually a nice hotel. The atrium was very pretty, and each room had their own private balcony. However, it was also fairly noisy at times. Both the pool an hotel bar were in the atrium, and as you can see from my pictures, they were close enough to my balcony for sound to travel up to my room. In a studying induced rage, I may have made a noise complaint one night that shut down the pool haha. However, even noise complaints couldn't stop the fire alarm for going off at 2am. Apparently it happens once in a while due to steam build up from the pool... not the best design if you ask me.
Of course, as you can imagine, I also became very protective of my work. When everyone else was quickly trying to make it out of the building while the alarm was going off, I was grabbing my laptop and all of my exam answers to take with me. I wasn't taking any chances, and wanted all of my hard work in my sight at all times!
By the way, did you know that if you leave your "do not disturb" sign on your hotel room door for more than 3 days, housekeeping is required to check on you? I got this note from the hotel, and after I was done laughing, I assured them that I was alive and not trashing their room.
However, the end of this story does have a very happy ending. Last Monday I found out that I passed!! Which is a good thing, because although I can look back at it now and laugh at everything I did to make sure I'd pass, this was not an experience I'd ever want to go through again. (And I'm sure both Maia and Tom agree)
Speaking of which, I need to send a HUGE thank you to Tom, who delivered me food, took time off of work to ensure I could be where I needed to be in order to upload everything on time, and even braved Starbucks in order to get coffee for me. Thank you also to Nicole who brought me energy boosting snacks and visited me to give me a confidence boost and company when I was going insane. WE DID IT!