Surviving those weeks from hell
November 18, 2008
We have all had them; we have all experienced them, those weeks that seemingly go on forever. They never seem to end no matter how hard we wish for it to be over. It’s those weeks when everything comes down: two, three, four, five (yes, I have heard of people having that many) exams, perhaps a paper or two, maybe a presentation, and who knows what else. They are the weeks sent from hell itself.
Yet they are not sent from hell, but rather from those professors and administrators who run the courses. Apparently they all get together at the beginning of the semester and decide the weeks during which they are going to make everything due. Three weeks a semester, then one big one at the end. It is like a hazing of sorts; they reason that if you can make it through this for four years, you truly deserve that B.S. or B.A. It is true Darwinism – only the strongest survive.
It is these weeks that our entire academic lives revolve around. If we can somehow survive, then, well, we might just make it. If not, there is always Parkland.
So what do we do? For most of us, it involves a week of living at the library and leaving only when necessary, cutting out a lot of other activities – you know, mainly those fun and enjoyable ones – and reducing sleeping just so far that we get the energy that caffeine can’t cover.
You get to the library early to claim your spot and leave a few books or pencils there that proclaim to anyone who passes by, “This is my spot.” You are there for hours and after a while the battle isn’t about cramming everything that you need to cram into your head, but actually caring enough about the stuff to keep on going and not get distracted by stuff like those “non-academic” Web sites, friends, or maybe even the unique cast of characters usually found at the library.
Characters such as the kid who, even though you have left a few times to go do things like eat, use the bathroom, or just take a break, is always there when you come back in the exact same spot, leading you to wonder if he or she possesses some sort of super-ability, and if so, how you might come to possess it. There also might be the girl wearing sorority letters, who brings a laptop and a small book and sits where you can see her screen, and whenever you look up, is either on Facebook, chatting, or shopping. Other people might include the homeless guy looking for an armchair to take a nap in, the guy or girl on the cell phone who doesn’t feel the need to get up and go somewhere to talk, and apparently now sexual predators. Who says studying isn’t fun?
But, of course, the ones who are the worst during those weeks are pre-med students, and I’m unlucky enough to be one of them. Hopefully by now most of you know not to approach us during this time, as nothing could possibly be more important than what we need to learn for our exams. Your grandma died and you want to talk about it? Sorry, but I need to learn about the mechanism for transaldolase. The Pope is here and giving a speech? Yeah, Bernoulli and his fluid dynamics equation are far more important.
Don’t worry so much though, pre-meds. The average GPA for entering medical students is only 3.9, and a MCAT of 40. If you don’t get that, then you can always go to a school in the Caribbean and make a comfortable $60,000-70,000 a year. Not too bad, right?
Of course, there is a way to not let these weeks be so horrible. Simply review the material after every lecture and do all the readings and you’ll already know most of what you need to know.
Ha, good one. I know.
Those of you who have made it as far as I have or further, well done. Only one more week from hell this semester, but it’s the really bad one.
Freshmen, just remember that your entire life’s happiness and well-being depends on you making it through, so good luck.
As they say, what doesn’t kill you only makes you stronger.
Jordan is a junior in MCB and is already in fall break mode.