A quick google search reveals that a viva voce is defined as “an oral examination, typically for an academic qualification”. My definition, on the other hand differs ever so slightly. I like to describe it as “a panic attack, typically observed in academic settings”. For someone who just recently gave four vivas in a row, I’ve formulated a list of common terrifying thoughts people usually have prior to the deadly viva.
The Night Before
Lets be honest here, no one is going to sleep well or at all the night before the dreaded viva. Being the procrastinators that most of us are, we are likely to be cramming our practical files till 3 am, worrying till 4 am, dozing off at 5 am and waking up after two hours to revise (a.k.a stressing out). Frantic calls and messages with your friends asking about the mood of the teacher and probable questions are very common in this period.
Reaching Your Venue
Maybe its at school, college or even at work (hey I don’t know what your job entails), the journey to the place of the viva is one of the most nerve wracking experiences. It is a difficult journey because you KNOW what you’re going to face and you’re voluntarily going to go face it. I mean who does that? That’s like cutting yourself with a knife on purpose. The knots in your stomach grow bigger and tighter as you get closer to the place and upon reaching you’re ready to throw up.
After the journey, this is another very unpleasant experience one has to face. it is the wait. upon reaching your destination, you wont immediately be ushered into the viva room. instead you have to often wait in a room with other individuals who look like they will either cry or run any moment. for me waiting involves MAJOR foot tapping. I usually just sit on a chair with my file open and keep tapping my right foot in anticipation. Important to mention here is that often when you think your wait is over and its your turn, the teachers suddenly think its time for a lunch break. Great. Your wait gets extended because of appetite.
In the Room
Finally, after all the breaks, the leg shaking and whatnot, your turn arrives and you enter the room breathing heavily. After muttering a curt greeting to the external, you sit down and cross your legs tight. they always start off with, “so are you nervous or relaxed?”. I personally think this is the stupidest question they could ask. Like you know I am trembling, you can see my eyes are watery, why would you ask me that.
Its like saying, is the sky blue or neon green? You know the answer, so please don’t bother. Once the fake pleasantries are over, they jump straight to the questions. The next 15 minutes (average time) are spent dodging their questions and elaborating on the very few things you do know while making up stuff for the rest.
This moment is defined by the look exchanged between the external and the internal. They then look at you and say , “Okay thank you, put your file over there”. Your heart leaps out of your chest as you cant believe its over. You jump up and walk out as fast as possible (without breaking into a jog). once you’re out, what else if left to do but to jump, yell, scream, share the questions with the people in the waiting room, plaster a big smile on your face and run home! Freedom, at least for the next hour until this process repeats itself for the next viva.