Mia’s Declassified Finals Survival Guide
Ah, that time of year is here again: the time of snow, the time of holidays, the time of REALIZING THAT WE HAVE LESS THAN A WEEK UNTIL FINALS AND YOU SUDDENLY HAVE ABSOLUTELY NO IDEA WHAT YOU’VE BEEN LEARNING FOR THE LAST THREE MONTHS. This semester felt long, but boy, did the end creep up on us. Suddenly, hell week is here. Maybe you learned some math? Who knows what KIND of math, but there are definitely numbers scrawled in your notebooks. All of your culminating assignments are due, you have four back to back finals to study for, and you have to worry about packing enough underwear for the next month that you will spend at home. (Okay, maybe not that one. You know your parents are so happy to see you that they’ll do your laundry for at least a few weeks before they realize that they should probably be asking for your help on the average 800 dishes that you use in a day reheating the ever-coveted home cooked meal.) A rock bigger than Dan’s is weighing down on you with all you need to do in the next seven days before you reach freedom, family, and binge eating food that was crafted in family sized portions in traditional kitchen appliances. (You will glare at your microwave. It is the enemy)
So what do we do to conquer this oncoming storm? We reward ourselves for the four sentences we added to our final comp papers with Netflix. How much Netflix? The going rate for a sentence now-a-days is AT LEAST one episode of “Bob’s Burgers,” so you’ve got 88 sweet minutes of freedom before you have to write at least two more sentences. Oh no! Netflix auto-played the fifth episode before you can stop it and before you know it it’s three a.m. and you’ve thoroughly analyzed Tina Belcher’s character development throughout the last three seasons. You’ve watched her crucial scenes at least three times (you know, for science and research reasons) even though you watched through the same episodes last week when you were avoiding that Chemistry test you had to study for.
Finals are rough, and they leave you in a very fragile state. But here’s some advice: back away from the t.v remote. You don’t need to re-watch your tried and true comfort shows so many times that they become tired and insignificant. Why, you ask? You know, you should be studying for finals. Hold on. I’m not nagging you. You didn’t let me answer. You don’t need to sit through the same show 8 times whilst avoiding your responsibilities because there are SO MANY OPTIONS!!! Don’t get me wrong, studying is important, and very necessary if you hope to maintain your desired G.P.A, but over-studying without breaks actually depletes your retention of material. If you study too long or too much material (especially when you haven’t gotten enough sleep) you are only increasing your stress, not your cramming abilities. Remember that while all-nighters can be outrageously productive, do not force it. If you’re on a roll, stay up later, but if you find yourself stuck, sleep will help you infinitely more than staring at an empty word document. On the topic of all-nighters, DO NOT GO OVERBOARD. We are all still in our formative years here, as much as we want to claim otherwise, and we need our sleep. Maybe spend one night getting as much work done as possible, but you need to let your body and mind rest. Breaks are good. Breaks are your friends (just make sure you don’t get too sucked in to whatever you decide to do to reboot your brain).
Here are 20 things you can do during a study break!:
1. Make some healthy, well-balanced brain food.
2. Make some unhealthy (healthy for your well-being!) chocolate dessert.
3. Call your mom. She wants to hear from you, and it will make you feel a lot better. You know you miss her.
4. Have a 4 song dance party. Dig up some of your best old pop music. Boogie all of your worries away, then get back to work.
5. Do a few basic yoga poses. Focus on breathing and stretching.
6. Tidy up your work space. Clear desk equals clear thoughts.
7. Doodle. Sketch. Paint.
8. Paint your toenails a crazy color (and fellas, you too; it’s winter. No one will see your toes).
9. Learn how to create ONE origami creation. Put it away in your brain bank and whip out your new skill at holiday parties.
10. Write a letter – to your friend you haven’t talked to in a while, to that cute boy in your Calc 2 class who you haven’t had the nerve to talk to all semester, to your mom, to your dog. You don’t need to send it, but write to clear your creative head space.
11. Look through old pictures and make fun of the terrible haircut your brother got sophomore year of high school.
12. Watch a TED talk on a topic you find interesting.
13. Make paper snowflakes to add festivity to your room!
14. Watch videos of small baby animals doing adorable things. Literally every animal is cute when it’s a baby. Extra cuteness points if it is wearing any sort of clothing. Super bonus points if the clothing is a festive hat.
15. Do your laundry. This creates the need for multiple breaks so you can transfer, fold, and put away your clothes. DON’T use this if you’re not planning on staying up very late. Dryers can sense fear and they feed on it. It will take at least an hour longer to complete your laundry than expected.
16. Take a shower. This one is especially good when you’re feeling stuck or flustered. Just make sure you remember those brilliant shower thoughts you have for your paper when you get back to writing!
17. Create a list of everything you need to do for the rest of the semester. I don’t know about you, but I love checking things off, so put even trivial things on your list. (ex. Wake up, eat enough, limit yourself to three mental breakdowns a day)
18. Breathe in. Breathe out. SMILE. Smiling will put you in a better mood.
19. Daydream about having free time again and make a list of all the things you want to do when you’re home for break.
20. Watch ONE episode of a half hour TV show. Make sure the show you choose isn’t one with an intense plot that you will feel inclined to keep watching and ignore all the school work you have. Sitcoms or animated television programs are generally your best bet. If you need something new, try one of these:
• “How I Met Your Mother” is now all on Netflix! If you haven’t seen it yet it is a great sitcom to unwind with and there are a lot of emotions to go with it. Enough comedy to make you laugh, but enough plot to keep you motivated to study more so that you can watch another episode! If Ted’s kids can sit through 9 seasons of backstory until their dad tells them how he really met their mother, you can sit through this last week of classes.
• “Scrubs” is a comedy centered around a med student named John Dorian (played by Zach Braff) and his life around the hospital. I have a personal soft-spot for this show and could most likely reenact all 8 seasons in a one woman show if given the proper supplies. But I won’t, because, you know, finals…
• “Archer” is a cartoon geared towards adults about a not-so-state-of-the-art spy team. It’s funny and raunchy and will definitely clear your mind for a bit of a break. If Archer can still participate whole-heartedly in secret missions while wildly intoxicated… wait. Don’t follow Archer’s example. NO DRUNK EXAMS.
• Another animated show, “Futurama,” is a great show to get your head in a different space and give your think tank a break. It’s clever, but you don’t have to work too hard for it. If Fry’s dog can wait patiently his entire life for his owner to return from the future, you can wait the 9 days until the end of the semester. *cries in corner*
• “Parks and Recreation” is another quirky show with outrageously relatable characters. You root for the success of all of their endeavors just like Leslie Knope is rooting for you to get through finals!
Good luck on your finals, everyone! Copious amounts of stress won’t help you study, so remember to let yourself relax periodically!