The Final Ascent

Winter is coming.

Bryan Blog Post #10
Season 4 is expected in early 2014; filming for the new season concluded less than a month ago. Picture courtesy of HBO.

Indeed, if you’re an avid Game of Thrones fan like myself, the eagerly anticipated Season 4 will be upon us in just a few months. Unfortunately, I have more pressing matters on my hands at the moment. I have to survive the actual blizzard of finals week (more like a week-and-a-half) just to make it to winter break when I can sleep. And sleep. And sleep some more. And maybe eat and socialize a bit and then go back to sleeping. All that’s left between me and a state of quasi-hibernation? Three final exams, hours upon hours of studying, and the development of a serious snacking habit. Normally, counting down the days until finals is like watching the storm front blow in from sea to ruin your lovely day at the beach as the dark clouds block out the sun and usher in a stinging curtain of rain. Finals week itself is kind of like being trapped in your car in a hailstorm; all you can do is weather the storm and wait it out.

For what it’s worth, finals week sounds terrible to anyone not in college. You hear the rumors about the people who literally don’t leave the library once it begins its open-24-hours marathon that lasts until the conclusion of finals on the first reading day, and you see the Facebook statuses about  being infected with writer’s block at the worst time, last-minute cramming for exams, or burning the midnight oil well beyond midnight to finish a final project. Regular consumption of foods other than packaged snacks and instant ramen tend to fall by the wayside. Social interaction plummets faster than Congress’ approval rating. In short, college finals are basically a conglomerate of stress, energy drinks and caffeine, and zombie-like lethargy like no other time of the year. But believe it or not, I was actually (kind of) looking forward to finals week; as crazy as it sounds, this sentiment isn’t as counterintuitive as it might sound.

1. Sleep. While it’s true that the real intensive sleep recovery program is due to begin following the conclusion of finals, reading days, the weekend, and perhaps even finals week itself (depending on when your finals are held) are prime opportunities for getting a normal person’s amount of sleep. The conclusion of classes and most extracurriculars means that you can work on your own schedule at your own pace, whether that’s going to sleep at 10 PM and waking up at 6 AM or going to sleep at 6 AM and waking up at 2 PM (yes, the latter does actually happen). My target of seven hours a night might not sound like a dream come true to you, but considering that I averaged about four-and-a-half in the last three weeks, I’ll take whatever I can get.

2. Finals week isn’t necessarily your hardest week. For many students, including myself, the weeks leading up to finals week (probably the last month or so) have featured some brutal stretches featuring inconveniently scheduled midterms, paper deadlines, and last-minute final assignments. At least for me, I sank over sixty-five hours (which was sixty-five more than I actually had to give) into two theatre projects in the last month: crewing a production and building a nautical chest prop for my final project. Finals week is preferable to me simply because I’m not as spread out across all my classes with multiple assignments in each one that I have to keep track of. I’m already done with my theatre and my philosophy classes, and although the three remaining exams are no joke, they also aren’t intermixed with papers, lab reports, and the like.

3. Finals week features lots of fun de-stressing events. In order to relieve students of their pre-finals stress (and also to provide an overwhelming amount of social interaction to compensate for the severe deprivation during finals week), many student groups orchestrate different types of events with food, games, movies, festivities, and other activities to help get your mind off of finals.

Bryan Blog Post #10
What’s better than loading up on sugar and starches at midnight? Picture credits to the Coop Fountain.

The Pomona Events Committee (PEC) always hosts its popular biannual de-stress events featuring puppies (and historically other furry things). Several divisions of the college arranged for the Kogi BBQ Taco Truck to stop by for a few hours. The Coop Fountain provides a free breakfast (albeit at 10 at night) on Sunday with pancakes, sausages, and hash browns. All of this equates to lots of free things (especially food), and who doesn’t like free things?

4. Finals week gives you an opportunity to experiment with a new fashion style. Function reigns supreme over form during finals week. No one cares that you show up to your final in pajamas, what kind of onesie you parade into the dining hall with, or that you drag your Snuggie all over campus. Of course, if you were looking to change up your regular style a little bit, now’s not a bad time either since no one really cares what you look like. Being semi-awake is usually good enough for the social interaction that takes place during finals week, and any dignity regarding your personal appearance can go out the window along with proper nutrition and any glimmer of hope for enjoying your last week in Claremont.

Am I a glutton for punishment? Hardly. Do I like finals? Not particularly. But my mentality is that it could be a lot worse than the three exams looming on the horizon. In fact it’s already been worse at other points in the semester. That doesn’t mean that the next few days are going to be easy; I just spent the last ten hours typing out a thirty-seven page study guide for my mineralogy final, and that’s only half my studying for that final alone. But eventually (or within a few days, I suppose), it’ll all be behind me, and I’ll finally be able to sleep in. As the late Nelson Mandela said, “it always seems impossible until it’s done.” Wise words from a wise man.