Tag Archives: exams

College Studying Murder Story

Informant:

J, a 22-year-old, Caucasian male who grew up in San Francisco, California until he turned 16. He now lives in Boise, Idaho. He spent his summers at summer camp with his friends.

Background info:

During summer camps, counselors and children would sit around a firepit at night and tell stories. While some of these were positive, most of them would be told with the aim of scaring people. This is one of the stories told to J during one of these sessions.

Context:

This was told amongst a group of friends sitting in a circle around a firepit late at night, slightly intoxicated, telling each other their favorite scary stories they heard as children.

Main piece:

“This story was told to me by a counselor who was actually in his freshman year of college. It goes something like this… There are two college roommates, Briona and Ellee, who are in the same math class and have a bit midterm in the morning… Briona decides to stay in and study, while Ellee goes out to party with a guy in the same class. *pause for childish laughing*… After a while, Ellee returns to find the lights out and Briona in bed asleep. To be courteous, Ellee does her nighttime routine in the dark before going to bed… *beep beep beep, beep beep beep, beep beep beep*… Sleepily, Ellee climbs out of bed and walks over to wake Briona… She rubs the sleep out of her eyes and notices the blood-soaked bed and stiff body of Ellee. On the wall above her, the words ‘Aren’t you glad you didn’t turn on the light?’ are scribbled in blood…”

Thoughts:

As I read back through this transcript, I wish it could better capture the feeling of this piece. The ambiance of the environment in which it was told played into it with the cold, quiet, dark night with the flames casting shadows around us, making us feel as if we were not alone. I think the story was interesting coming from J, as he never went to traditional college. However, it was still an effective ‘scary’ story for us since we all knew what it was like to share a room with a person you haven’t known for very long. Things are often represented in sets of three, and this one used the alarm beeping in threes to give the listeners something familiar before the big reveal. The writing in blood is a common element in scary stories, but it implies so much more in this story that it played a larger part than it normally does. J was unsure of which names were meant to be used in the story but didn’t think they were terribly important.

Baccalaureate Audacity

Text

Um, so we have a story for — about a student who took the French baccalaureate, and um … when it comes to the philosophy exam, it’s always like … it’ll be some like weird question sometimes. And apparently one year, the question was “what is audacity?” And, we have four hours to complete this test. So, some kids are writing like eight pages long, and some kids were writing like basically nothing. And other people, like there are other things you can choose to do if you’re taking the philosophy exam, it doesn’t have to be like one question, so people were doing other things. But, you can’t leave the exam until about an hour or two into it. So, this kid wrote one thing on his paper. It was literally a line long. And then… uh, kind of looks at his desk. And everyone’s kind of looking around wondering what’s happening. And uh, ‘cause we can’t mind our own business. But, um… So what happens is, once the hour — the first hour– is up, he goes and he turns that in and leaves. And, when everyone gets their results, you know we have a tendency of telling each other our results. So, what happens is, he gets his results, and his friends — obviously everyone’s asking what they got. They ask him and he said he got a perfect score, so 20 out of 20 in our case. And they said “what? We saw you. You only put one sentence. What did you say? And to the answer… to the question “what is audacity?” his answer is “this is audacity.” And just turned that in.

Context

This piece of folklore came up when a couple of college freshmen were sitting around a dorm room discussing senior year exams and the college application process. When the informant began to tell this story, I rushed and got my camera to record it. The informant said that the initial context she heard it, and would typically hear it, was when her and her high school classmates were discussing baccalaureate exams, usually right before they happened.

Thoughts

According to the informant, this legend was told during times of high stress in the baccalaureate process. Since those exams are so important and determine the student’s ability to get into the college they want, there is a lot of anxiety surrounding them. I think that this piece of folklore is spread to relieve some of the stress of the upcoming exams. It implies that you don’t have to do the longest and most elaborate work to be successful. Also, the fact that the main question in the legend is “what is audacity?” might imply that the more important thing when dealing with anxiety over the future is to just be audacious and bold.

Don’t Wash Your Hair

Don’t Wash Your Hair

The Informant:

She was born in Cerritos, CA and has lived there her whole life with her family. Her parents were born in Korea but immigrated to the U.S. in their teens. They live a less traditional Asian lives than others.

The superstition:

If you wash your hair at night after you study, everything you memorized and learned up till then will be lost.

She also repeated the text in Korean for me:

공부하고 자기전에 머리를 가므면 외운거 다 지워진다, 잊어버려. 그거야 그냥 장난이지.

 The Analysis:

This story was told to my friend before her big exam when she was in middle school. It is analogous to the idea that washing her hair will also wash out everything in her head that was stored up till that point. She says that the story was told by her mother, who had then heard it from her mother back in Korea. An insight that I gained was the Korea is surrounded by water. Korean life is also dominated by water, with rivers and the ocean. It is a possibility that this saying sprung up due to the Korean affinity for water, which later might have turned into a repulsion of so much water.

It is difficult to understand the insight on a less literal analysis.