Ah, that faint smell in the air. That hard edge on the corner of your mind. That growing feeling pushing down on you when you sit. Yes, we’re all feeling it. Finals are just around the corner.
Wasn’t it only yesterday that we were all heading off for our first class, pink-faced and excited, clutching our unopened notebooks and sharpening the first pencils of the semester? Where has time gone? It’s as if October and November barely existed; they only flitted by to wave back to us, shouting “So long, suckers!” as they dashed to their connecting flight for Aruba. And here we are, left behind in the endless terminal waiting for escape — I’m clearly ready to go on vacation — sighing as we crack open our worn books to reread chapters we could have sworn we had memorized.
And time, which seemed to have been speeding along at tip-top pace already, now has begun to make a mad dash to the finish. There aren’t nearly enough hours to do everything we wish and study as well as we want, and inevitably all we end up doing is attempting to rope in time and calm it, dragging our heels and crying for mercy.
But then I must question if this fruitless protest is actually the best use of my time. Definitely for me, but I’m sure for many others, finals are a time to procrastinate by any means possible. I look at the early studiers, the chronic over-preparers, and I am envious and impressed. And then I turn back to Netflix, where I’ve started a new show that I just have to get through tonight, because if I don’t I won’t be able to focus.
Generally in these last few weeks of the semester, I pick up about three or four new hobbies that disappear from my mind the second I hand in my last exam. Last year, I made all of my Christmas presents for friends and family in the lag before tests. Though ultimately productive, I can’t even pretend it was the smart play.
This year it looks like it might be cookie baking — I’m out on my own now, isn’t it time that I learned to bake well? I’ll only make like 12 or 15 … dozen. Perhaps I’ll pick up exercising. Running around in the bitter cold is the best excuse for not doing homework I’ve ever seen. Or maybe I’ll just lie in bed and practice sleeping. I bet I could be a champ in a few weeks.
I’m lucky this year, though. All of my finals are fairly evenly distributed. I’ll have a good amount of time to study for each one individually, provided that I won’t be off scuba diving or deciding to knit socks for everyone I’ve ever known.
But better this than a schedule of densely packed exams. Having exams close to each other is disastrous, not necessarily because it’s difficult to study for so many things at once, but because the work load builds up so much that it collapses on me, leaving me with no other option than to burrow in and find a comfy corner to snooze. Or I’d start making origami or something.
Without a doubt, though, finals season can be fun. There’s something sort of wonderful and sadistic about calling the buddies up to hit up the library for 15-hour stretches, with the occasional coffee and whining break. I can actually get some sort of guilty satisfaction from diving so far into textbooks that I might as well be eating them. When you’re trapped in that kind of setting, everyone becomes friends with a shared goal. Everyone understands your plight and is willing to offer that consolation smile or pitying nod each time you trudge to the bathroom or water fountain.
So, really, what I’m trying to say is, I’m looking forward to it. Not the work, but the camaraderie that will emerge, the extra projects that will be squeezed in, and, of course, the looming, bright promise at the edge of the horizon that winter break will be here soon.
Emily’s column runs biweekly Wednesdays. She can be reached at email@example.com.