Classes finally ended, but don’t get too excited. They’re replaced with countless hours of studying, piles of coffee cups and endless late nights. You don’t need to wake up for classes in the morning, but you still get up early to study.
That’s how it is for me, at least. I study all day—maybe nine or ten hours—and then stay up late because I don’t have to go to my 9 a.m. classes the following day. Regardless, I still get up at 7:30 because I don’t want to waste my time sleeping.
Final season usually spreads out across two weeks after two study days at the end of the semester. The fall semester of sophomore year I had four finals, one even had a final paper to go along with it. All of these finals piled up back to back, and one day I took two finals.
Once classes officially ended, I thought to myself, “Wow, I can’t believe that I’m going home for the holidays in 10 days.” The short time period seemed surreal because I still had two papers and four exams to complete within those ten days.
The moment classes finished, the following two weekdays are study days for those that take exams on the first day of finals week. I spent those two days finishing a paper on the aspects of film for my Studies in Narratives course. Then, I dove headfirst in to my take-home final for Globalization I and then submerged myself into the history of the Ming and Mongol Dynasties.
Discussing ancient artifacts like white and blue porcelain from the Persian province dated back to 1400-1700 felt like pulling my own teeth out. I find history interesting, but I don’t like to be questioned on it. I would rather sit in a lecture and just listen to stories of the past.
Anyways, once I submitted the take home final, I had five days left to go and three exams and a paper in my way.
Luckily, I slowly worked my way through my research paper while the final weeks of classes wrapped up. But that didn’t stop my panic from rising. I felt a bit scattered when I looked at my computer screen and only saw two pages written for my eight-to-ten-page paper. It’s not a lot, I know, but it was the first time that I had to write a paper of that length. Plus other exams also weighed down on me.
I took multiple breaks for deep breaths over the following two days. I needed to remind myself that it would get done. Some moments, I worked against my doubts and pushed my positivity to the forefront so that I wouldn’t shut down or give up.
In the end I finished the entire paper hours before it was due. At this point I felt somewhat off-kilter. Even though I wrote a final paper for my Roman Family Law class, I still had an in-class final to waiting for me. It felt like once I submitted the paper, I was done with the course. But I needed to remind myself that I was actually far from done.
And I still had to pack to go home. My room looked like a hurricane tore through it. I barely spent time in there unless it was to sleep or change clothes because it was colder outside than anticipated.
During finals, students forget to eat, choosing to continue studying rather than getting any sleep. Even though I never missed a meal, I did very small amounts of food and not always the healthiest options. I wanted to finish as fast as possible before heading back to my study station.
As the days of my in-class finals approached, I felt more and more stress. I felt like all the material wanted to swallow me up whole. I continued to doubt myself, wondering if I did enough, studied enough or focused enough on the right lessons.
These doubts constantly circulated in my head, bringing all the panic that I pushed down to come back with a vengeance. I realized then that I didn’t handle my worries. I just forced them aside, hoping they would diminish if I ignored them long enough.
Eventually, I didn’t have a choice but to face these fears; if not, they would have consumed me. I closed my computer. The strain on my eyes caused the words to begin to blur. And I just put my head down.
I reassured myself that I’m doing the best that I can do. If at the end of this I fail all of my exams, then I can’t be upset. I put my all into these past two weeks. There is nothing more that I could do. I repeated this to myself as I take deep breaths with my head in my hands and my eyes closed.
After ten minutes, I sat up straight and open up my computer once again. I feel more calm studying, knowing everything would be OK. I just needed to keep faith in myself and my abilities to do well on my exams.