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I've almost survived finals

December 20, 2010

Zoe McLaughlin ’11

I may have returned to my wintery homeland of Rochester, but I am actually not done with finals yet. I had my thermo test Saturday afternoon. It was terrifying and I would rather not talk about it until after I'm done with everything else, namely an archaeology project that is due this afternoon via email and my nonfiction portfolio that is due Wednesday morning in hard copy. I will, however, be emailing that one as well--to a friend who will then turn it in for me. (It pays to have friends who are RAs and thus have to stay on campus till the bitter end.)

The nice thing about being home to complete all this work, though, is that I can go to my public library to do it. That means that all the YA books I could ever want (almost) are only four feet behind me. This is, quite frankly, amazing. However, the environment that I need to revise like mad is very different from the environment that I need to study for science classes.

Interestingly, my guide to surviving finals is almost completely opposite of Chinwe's. We agree on point number one (start early) and point number two (only pull one all-nighter) to a certain extent, but after that we diverge.

I spent almost all of reading period in Love Lounge in the Science Center. Love Lounge and the Mac lab very close by are where I spend most of my time anyway, working on problem sets and hanging out with people. Love Lounge is located on the second floor of the Science Center, right by the Chemistry/Biochemistry Department Office and the wing where the Chemistry/Biochemistry professors' labs and offices are. It only makes sense that a lot of my life would involve spending time there anyway.

I would, however, count Love Lounge as among the popular study places. Terrified science majors of one form or another tend to migrate through there during reading period, discussing the material that they are going to need to know for their tests. For me, though, that's exactly what I need. I need to discuss big concepts from class with other people, or they just won't stay in my head. So that's what I did for all of reading period, in between taking naps on the couch or the ground and briefly going to Stevenson or DeCafe to procure food. Yes, occasionally the feeling of foreboding got to be too much, but at those times I would have a sing-along to such classics as "I'll Make a Man Out of You" (Mulan), "When You Believe" (The Prince of Egypt), or "Defying Gravity" (Wicked). If that didn't work, then I would move to the Mac lab, shut the door, and shut out all the bad qi for a little bit.

I also didn't attend any of the study break opportunities offered. I honestly didn't have time. So much thermo to learn, so many pages to revise, no time to go out and do other things. I did go and support my friends when they had end-of-the-year performances, but that was the most I did, and even for those it was in and out with as little time taken as possible.

I guess it's about two things: time management and focus. For me, going out of the Science Center signifies a massive loss in productivity. Even if I come back, it takes me a long time to get back into the frame of mind where I can do a lot of good work. Also, time management. I've learned that I need to use every minute I have to study or, when the test is placed in front of me, I will just look at those blank white pages and think only about all the time that I wasted.

The way things worked out, though, I don't regret even that one very uncomfortable nap I had in one corner of Love Lounge behind a table, overlooking the atrium. Yes, at the time, people may have been discussing how they'd slept the night before so they didn't need to stoop to the levels that I did, but really? That was the only thing that cleared my mind enough to allow me to focus on memorizing the rest of my equations.

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