I've just completed my first year in seminary. So lately, I've had to answer the question of what it was like. My response is usually something along the lines of "The most difficult thing I've ever done academically, spiritually, and emotionally."
Let me explain. For the majority of my academic career, grades came fairly easy, and studying, although bothersome, never seemed to be too much of a burden. However, this year was different. The first semester stretched me almost to the breaking point. I felt the pressures of grades more than ever and, as the semester came to a close, my hope was that I would just pass my classes. This is something I can't remember ever feeling in any of my years in school. As you can imagine. I leaned heavily on God and others for support as the stress mounted and I felt out of control. In the end, all was well and I passed my classes with better grades than I expected.
But the feeling of being out of control made me rethink my approach to the spring semester- put more effort into the entire semester so as to feel less pressure at the end of the semester. It worked. I spent more time studying and writing papers and my grades improved dramatically. However, increased success led to more independence. Independence prevented much dependence on God.
Times of stress and uncertainty, although difficult, usually produce a great dependence upon God. It is in those times that we grow. Unfortunately, once those times pass, it's easy to go back to self-reliance. Independence, although highly valued in society, prevents the formation of deeply-rooted community with God and with others because when we are able to provide for ourselves, we become convinced we don't "need" anyone.
So, I hope that next semester I can find a middle ground between the past two semesters. Find the balance that allows for dependence and confidence.