Finals week. A phrase that, if uttered, will likely cause any college student within earshot to groan incessantly. Finals week is upon us at UMD and during that dreaded time, the whole campus shifts into overdrive. RA’s instate 24-hour quiet hours in the dorms to allow people to cram. There’s a mad dash to McKeldin Library to be the first one to snag a desk. In the middle of the week, it isn’t uncommon to see people on the phone, sobbing after bombing a final. Others are giddy, knowing they did a good job.
Where do UMD students like to study?
1. The Clarice
The Clarice Performing Arts Center is a huge building with a whopping six performance venues and more practice rooms than you could count. From my experience, it is the easiest building on campus to get lost in with its many similar-looking hallways. But, if you go in through the main entrance into the grand, spacious lobby and take a hard left, you will see the Michelle Smith Performing Arts Library. Known colloquially as the CSPAC library, it’s a cute little nook for burying your nose in books. The cathedral ceiling makes the room feel gigantic, yet the huge desks with wooden dividers give you all the privacy in the world.
“When I really need to focus, I try to go somewhere quiet. I like Clarice in particular because they have good sized desks for me to put all of my stuff, it’s close to my dorm, and most people don’t go there,” University of Maryland freshman Kelly Shannon said. This library is quite isolated from the rest of campus, so it’s a spot that goes under the radar. If you like being in your own world when you study, definitely take advantage of the CSPAC library.
Hornbake Library is a great place to study. The second floor is for quiet study only, and the third floor for individual and group study. The ground floor is where it’s at though. The computer lab down there is outfitted with Macs and PCs and each desk has its own pair of headphones. Perhaps the best part of studying at Hornbake is that it’s right in the middle of campus. If you’re looking for a bite to eat, you’re just two minutes away from Stamp Student Union which has tons of restaurants. “My favorite spot to study is on the second floor of Hornbake Library…there are private desks for people who like to study alone and it’s always very quiet up there which helps me focus. Hornbake is my favorite library in general because of the great vibe it provides for studying,” University of Maryland freshman Lauren Hamilton said. If you like the quiet aesthetic of CSPAC but don’t want to be isolated from the rest of campus, look no further than Hornbake Library.
McKeldin Library is the library people think of when they think of UMD. It sits at the top of the grassy mall with zagging walking paths and, of course, the picturesque fountain that every UMD student finds themselves swimming in at one point or another. Inside McKeldin, you have seven floors, getting quieter the higher you go. The first floor is home to an array of computers (Mac and PC), comfy chairs to sink into with your laptop and a Starbucks-style café called Footnotes. The second floor has large desks with computers and conference rooms with dry erase boards for group projects. Floors four through seven are quiet zones—people will give you dirty looks if your shoes are too squeaky. Either way, there is a floor that will suit your needs.
“My favorite spot to study is at a desk in McKeldin library on the third floor. The partitions in between each desk keep me in my own sort of world,” University of Maryland freshman Jacob Richman said. If you want quiet, McKeldin has you covered. If you want a nice space to meet with group members, McKeldin is always there. There isn’t a building on campus quite as flexible as McKeldin Library.
4. Washington Quad
If you’re looking for a place outdoors to study, Washington Quad is a great choice. It is an enclosed grassy area with beautiful brick dorms surrounding you. Plenty of people are out there setting up hammocks between the trees, tossing frisbees to one another or simply lying outside trying to get a tan. “It’s just a big open area where you can sit on the grass and do your work…I can get work done and get fresh air at the same time,” University of Maryland freshman Molly Cuddy said. The quad has the feel of a small university which can be refreshing at a college as big as UMD. If you ever feel overwhelmed or are in desperate need of fresh air, bring a picnic blanket over to Washington Quad and have a relaxing study session.
5. Your Room
We all have those friends who tell us studying in our room is bad because we’re not ‘getting out into the world.’ While you probably shouldn’t always study in your room, it’s the most private place you’ve got (unless you have a crazy roommate). Throw on your comfy pajamas, light your favorite-scented candle, play your favorite study playlist and hit those books. “My favorite place to study is definitely my room. Although some people find it hard to study there, I like it best because it allows me to have absolute silence,” University of Maryland freshman Alexa Hirn said. If absolute silence is what you’re looking for, your room is your best bet.
How do UMD students bring themselves good luck during finals week?
6. Rubbing Testudo’s Nose
This tradition goes all the way back to when the Class of 1933 gifted the University with a bronze statue of Testudo the turtle, which became the official mascot of the university. Like all of the greatest college mascots, Testudo has been stolen in the past. During a lacrosse game between Maryland and Johns Hopkins, a band of Hopkins students ran the statue back to Baltimore and buried it. This led to a two-hour standoff between hundreds of UMD students and Hopkins students. A group of 200 police officers brought an end to the mayhem. After the showdown concluded, the dean of Johns Hopkins ordered the excavation of Testudo, and he was forever cemented in place in front of McKeldin Library. Ever since then, students have been rubbing his nose for good luck, giving it a golden sheen. For students who need a lot of good luck, there are now five Testudo statues littered all over campus. Wherever you are, you can rub his nose and wish for good luck on your upcoming exams.
7. Sacrificing to Testudo
This tradition is related to the previous one, but it only began in the early ‘90s. The overly superstitious students sacrifice anything and everything to the original Testudo statue that sits in front of McKeldin Library. The “offerings” are mostly just used coffee cups and fast food containers, but sometimes people sacrifice downright weird things to Testudo: flat screen TVs, fully functional video game systems, couches, traffic cones and empty bottles of alcohol. A broken toilet was once an “offering.” When UMD students are super desperate, mountains of all kinds of crap rise up all around Testudo. In extreme cases, the statue has been lit on fire, though that time the blaze was ruled “accidental.” All this craziness is commonplace at UMD.
8. A Special Meal
For some, rubbing Testudo’s nose or sacrificing your coffee cup to him isn’t enough to do the trick. Good food goes a long way in this world, so don’t underestimate its power. “Besides touching Testudo outside the library, I always make lemon chicken the night before an exam; partly because it’s my favorite comfort food, but it’s also a tradition I’ve done since high school,” University of Maryland sophomore Cameron Moreno-Burch said. Whatever your favorite food is, maybe go the extra mile and cook it for yourself the night before a big test. It might be just what you need to get you across the finish line.
9. Calling your Folks
Tests can be nerve-wracking, especially finals that if you bomb, will wreak havoc on your grade. The sheer number of things you need to remember mush together; it feels impossible to cram everything into your brain. That feeling is universal and when it strikes, perhaps a phone call with your parents is the best thing to do to calm your nerves. “I always call my parents right before I have a test because I know they will boost my self-confidence, and I can go into the test feeling prepared,” Hirn said. Parents seem to have a way of minimizing things that seem impossibly difficult to you, so there is no shame in calling home when you feel like the walls are closing in.
10. A Personal Good Luck Charm
Many people have their own good luck charms. Personal mementos with special meaning can help people wade through feelings of loneliness when they’re in a high-stress situation (i.e. taking a final). “I carry these healing crystals in my backpack that a teacher in high school gave me that are supposed to bring me good luck and positivity, and I make sure to have them with me during finals week,” Cuddy said. No matter what your good luck charm is, it should be significant to you. And make sure to have it with you during your final—it won’t do you any good sitting in your dorm room.