Oberlin Blogs

No Sweat

May 15, 2011

Joe Dawson ’12

Why I'm not stressing out about finals:

1. I can't afford to. I'm a pretty good test-taker, and I think a lot of that comes from confidence in my ability to do well. I have pretty high expectations for myself going into tests, and I think it helps me. So even when I'm not as well prepared for end-of-year tests as I could be, a certain amount of fake bravery (fravery is the term I just made up) is in order to keep my confidence up (believe me, I could be a lot more prepared, just don't tell me that).

2. I can't afford to (again). I don't sleep well when I'm stressed. I don't sleep that well no matter what, much of the time. I spent the evening last night studying a little between watching last week's episodes of The Daily Show and reading about self-hypnosis. Not much studying got done, but I dreamed up at least three comedy sketches and had a few ideas for improv lessons to teach the ExCo next year (this year's batch had their final performance on Thursday and KILLED IT. What a bunch of champs). I didn't sleep all that well last night just because I was thinking of more things to add to lesson plans, other funny things to put into my silly YouTube videos. Throw in stress for something that actually matters, like finals, and I'm toast. I'll be in bed at midnight, eyes open until 1:30, and awake when the sun comes up at 7. Last fall I got sick, and I was sleeping like a baby for nine and a half hours a night. Not only did I get over a nasty case of tonsillitis in four days, but I felt so good when I was awake that I was super productive even though I was sick.

3. The weather's too nice. Or at least it was. It's raining now, like it did for all of April, when my home state Missouri was getting national news attention for the first time since Harry Truman was elected with airport tornadoes and breached levees (Breached Levis? God forbid!). I also got a text message from my girlfriend Liz in mid-April that reads "Just saw someone kayaking in their front yard. For real." Regardless, we got our first real taste of Spring this last week. Sunshine and warmth are too precious to worry away.

4. I've got other stuff to think about. I've got some pretty cool stuff tentatively lined up for this summer. I'll be in North Carolina with the aforementioned Liz, and taking advantage of some advice I once got from an Oberlin Biology professor. He told a group of students during a meeting about research that researchers love to get free help in their labs (duh), but also love Oberlin students. So I emailed a bunch of researchers at UNC, Duke, and NC State to see if they needed any help this summer, and if there was any possibility of getting paid. Turns out they do! And there isn't! Actually, one guy said he could pay me the equivalent of a part time job if I actually worked there full time, so that sounds a little less illegal than straight up working for free. The projects are so cool, and I think I can get part-time work somewhere else, so I'm not too concerned. A taste of the projects I could be involved with this summer (as in, the people have already said they would tolerate me hanging around this summer!) :

  • A Physics professor at UNC-Chapel Hill is teaming up with Research Triangle International and the Department of Mechanical and Aerospace Engineering at NC State to design and build a thermoelectrically cooled vaccine carrier. This device would keep vaccines at a precise temperature so that they would neither freeze nor spoil, since the current method for transporting vaccines to regions without hospitals is basically a thermos with an ice pack in it, where both problems are common.
  • A professor at Duke's Center for the Environmental Implications of NanoTechnology (CEINT) is working to study the environmental impact of nanoparticle use, including toxicity and cycles, and using nanoparticles to make fuel cells, membranes, and lots more.
  • Lastly, there is a research forest at Duke that has been used for a dozen years or so to study the long-term effects of increased carbon dioxide in the atmosphere. They measure and model carbon uptake in trees and try to learn what increased carbon dioxide levels could do to natural systems.

5. I don't like it. If I can help it, I never like to stress out more than I have to. I know that this is probably a pretty universal thing for people, but there are people who I swear revel in the finals frenzy (Fin-zy? Frenzals? Another 24-carat catch phrase, a caratch-phrase, if you will...) all week. Sleeping in Mudd this reading period is absolutely not necessary. It's got to be impossible to get good sleep, and if I don't get good sleep I feel like my whole day is worse. My work certainly suffers. Ugh and all those people around!

But that's as Scroogy as I'll get. Because I'm in a blissful state of finals denial. Fi-nial, if you please.

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