How to Survive Finals… without really trying

Once again, it’s finals week on the GW campus. For some that means writing scores of pages for papers, cramming for exams, moving into the library, and getting off campus as soon as possible. I take a slightly different approach to my end of term exams. Here’s my handy-dandy list of finals’ week must haves.

  • Food. Not snacks, meals. There’s simply too much going on to take the time to go to the grocery store and prepare all of your meals. Especially since you’ll be going home in a week and you don’t want all of the food to spoil. So, if you’re like me, take-out will become your best friend. Chinese and Italian are always good choices. Chipotle, too, of course.
  • Munchies. Load up on the quick-fixes. My must-haves include Joe-Joe’s from Trader Joe’s, cherry & s’mores flavored pop tarts, and lots and lots of Diet Cherry Pepsi.
  • Distractions. Procrastinate, procrastinate, procrastinate. This is when your laptop knows no other screen than Twitter, Facebook, or your favorite blogs. This is also a great opportunity to break out that book you’ve been meaning to read but never found the time. For me, it’s Catcher in the Rye.
  • Socialize. There are no classes, meaning you, and everyone else on campus, has suddenly been gifted with downtime. Organize movie nights. We’re watching one a night for the rest of the week. So far, we’ve watched Pride & Prejudice and Love, Actually. Tonight we’re curling up for Gone With the Wind. If studying really is a priority for you (which, honestly, I can’t fathom), form a study group. I know my university band is holding a private study party in the band room.
  • Stretch your Legs. Being cooped up and studying non-stop will drive you up the walls. I know, I’ve witnessed it. Besides, ’tis the season to be jolly. Take a walk around campus or through the city (a field? Is that how rural campuses work?). Last night after work, some friends and I celebrated the first real snow-fall of the season by taking a stroll down to the Lincoln Memorial.
  • Avoid the Library. If your undergrad library is anything like mine, it is unbearable at the best of times. Make it ten million times more crowded than normal, fluctuate the thermostat, and put in those god-awful florescent lights, and it’s impossible to get any work done. If, for some odd reason, you must go to the library to work, make sure that you pack water, snacks, and some noise-canceling earbuds. Permaybe some sunglasses, too.
  • Holiday Shop. What better time to get your holiday shopping out of the way. Plus, if your school, like mine, waits until the last possible moment before Christmas to send you on your merry way home, this is the only viable time-frame for getting those gifts. Also, what could be easier than slapping down and dishing out your pre-paid university money at the campus bookstore? Who doesn’t love a shirt/coffee mug/stationary set with your school’s logo? Crazy people! That’s who.
  • Have Fun! It’s very rare for an undergraduate course to put all of the weight in grading the class on the final. That kind of shenanigan is generally saved for law school (oh, goody. I can’t wait.). If you’re really freaking out, go ahead and calculate what the worst-possible grade you can get on the final while still doing well in the class. That’s why I’m not studying for Arabic as I type this. That’s being saved for Gone With the Wind-times.

I’m not saying that finals aren’t a stressful time – for most sane students, they are. But balance your nose-to-the-grindstone study habits with some relaxing activities. You deserve it! I just choose to save my major stress-related meltdowns for more important things, like the day that Stargate SG-1 finally stops streaming on Hulu and I have to shell out the big bucks for the actual DVDs. (It’s a legitimate concern, guys! 10 seasons of awesomeness really adds up.) And, remember, as my good friend Amanda said: ‎”It’s ok because remember you only need like a 3.0 to get a job, right?” Is that how that works?

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