December 5, 2011
Thanksgiving Break is always like the quick last minute breath you take before doing a cannonball into the pool. When we come back, it’s the final push until the end of the semester, so Thanksgiving is a chance for the brain to relax before it needs to start churning out research papers and final projects in December at a rapid rate.
Now it’s December. My to-do list is frighteningly long. The floor in my room is layer of research books. My desk is covered in yellow sticky notes that say things like “get coffee”, “remember to write your history paper”, and “clean room?”. I’m pretty sure there’s also a note on there somewhere about making an actual list so I don’t have to use read twenty sticky notes in order to remember what it was I had to do next, but oh well.
In this vein, I will post some tips to survive the frenzied cramming and writing craze that arrives every mid-December, as well as that one one random week at the end of September when everything is due on the same Friday.
1. Everyone copes in different ways. Usually I find myself listening to one song or artist on repeat for any entire week, because for some reason, the music or the lyrics of that one song or artist help me focus and keep everything organized in my brain. One time when I was writing a take-home history midterm I listened to the same five Brad Paisley songs in a row for three days straight. I don’t even like country music. I don’t like to talk about that time too much. My housemates sophomore year could also attest to the fact that I played “Hey, Soul Sister” non-stop during the month of April (please don’t judge me. That was a hard April).
2. I operate on a really weird schedule during finals. I used to stay up really, REALLY late during finals week. There’s no class, and for some reason I’d hit my stride with a paper around midnight, work until three in the morning, and then sleep until eleven the next morning. Obviously, I do NOT recommend this if you have normal tests. Most of my finals now are papers, so I can work on them whenever I want. If I want to stay up until four and sleep until eleven, I can. The point is, find what schedule works for you, and stick to it.
4. More caffeine. I’m serious. I don’t even drink coffee. It makes me grimace. But I’ve started ordering 8 oz. lattes with whipped cream, letting the whipped cream melt and then sipping the sweeter 4 oz. because it works. (This is how it starts, I’m told).
5. Okay, I’m not saying you need caffeine to survive finals week. But I guarantee you there will be a time when you want to take a nap but you can’t because you literally do not have enough hours to take a nap and finish your paper. And coffee is there for you in that time. That’s all I am saying.
6. This is going to sound silly, but remember that there are some nice things about reading period and finals week. There are no classes. Most people don’t have work anymore. Campus is quieter. Since all my finals are papers of some kind, I can stay in bed all day if I want. I also like the feeling of knowing that there is nothing to do but write. Even though all of my papers are un-readable right now, I like rolling out of bed, throwing on some clothes, throwing everything my bag, finding a space in Oppenheimer or the library, and writing in every spare second I have.
7. Also, I’m doing right now instead of the way Phillipe Claudel constructs a double mirror of reality and poetry in his short story The Other. Remember that the occasional break is okay too.
8. Except now I really do have to go write about Phillipe Claudel.