After the longest reading period of my life, I'm finally writing to you from home! I legitimately thought this moment would never come; and now that it has arrived I'm so, so very relieved. No matter where you go to school, finals week is the worst. It's the end of the semester, you're tired, it's freezing outside (in Oberlin), and there are a million papers to be turned in, as well as exams to be taken.
However, I think there are ways to ease the pain and torture of finals week:
1. Start early.
I'm not really the type to do things weeks and weeks ahead of time, but the past two semesters I've ended up getting tonsillitis the week before finals week. Last semester, it really threw off my entire life and made my finals week borderline impossible. This semester, I was prepared. As soon as I got sick, in addition to sleeping and watching the entire first season of L.A. Ink, I started studying for biology, which was going to be my hardest exam. Truth is, I probably wouldn't have started that early if I hadn't been forced to rest. Try to predict your level of exasperation once classes end, and know that you will seriously thank yourself for beginning so soon.
2. Only pull ONE all-nighter.
Being a science major, I must disclose that I do not write four or five 15-page papers during finals week. I suppose the all-night method is conducive to writing thousands and thousands of words, but if you mostly have exams you have to realize that after a certain hour of the night you're no longer being productive, just silly. This semester I had a take-home exam and a paper, in addition to two scheduled in-class exams. Therefore, the night of the last day of classes, I put on my favorite sweatpants, found a warm blanket, packed a bag full of snacks, and camped out in the library. I suggest you not do this alone, or you will end up absolutely mental. Instead, bunker down with a big group of goofy people and have at least one spontaneous dance party. That night, I managed to finish my exam and my paper by 5 am and got to sleep in my own bed. But it's totally cool to pass out on any of the oddly-shaped couch things in Mudd for a few hours.
3. After the first day of reading period, do not study in popular study spaces.
A big part of finals is the foreboding feeling of doom that coats the entire campus. Everyone has a lot to do and everyone is stressed out. People start to pour into the libraries and popular study spaces, and just mull over piles of endless work. The night of the last day of classes and the entire first day of reading period are pretty much safe, but once night falls on that first day, madness breaks out. In my experience, this is when people start to fall apart. On multiple occasions I've seen people break out in tears in the library. Half the finals battle is staying sane and mentally tough. Avoiding those who can't keep it together helps.
4. Attend as many study break opportunities as possible.
As you feel yourself start to wear down, it's important to take breaks. Take advantage of the fact that the 'Sco is open every night of reading period, that there are art shows and movie screenings, and that multiple on-campus organizations are giving away food and candy. There are so many study break opportunities that you may even find yourself 'breaking' and not doing much studying. Don't do that. But remember, you have the options of a million things to do for a reason.
This year I was lucky enough to have both my exams take place on the first day of finals. Now it's time to sit back, relax, and rejuvenate. I wish everyone still on campus the best of luck with finishing finals (especially one of my biology lab partners, Anna, because she's the best). You can do it. Have faith, the end is near.