Hmmm…..what to do now…
Final exams are over, and the results are in. Did you ace them? Did you botch them? Or did you just coast through? However you did, I think it is safe to assume that everybody is glad to be finished with that stressful time; days of studying and nights of cramming are over!
Nothing can compare with the elated feeling that arises after you’ve handed in that final booklet. Some students rush to the bar, and others stumble home to bed in a comatose state after pulling all-nighters.
Third-year business student Jordan Stamatinos is one who prefers sleep over drunken foolery. All of your energy has been channeled into studying, or trying to, and exhaustion sets in.
“You just faint,” says Stamatinos. “You go into your coffin for a while, for about three days, to recoup all the blood you’ve lost, and all the sweat you’ve lost, and the tears you’ve lost.”
Alright, exams may not be a physical battlefield, but Stamatinos has a point. There is a serious internal battle that arises during the dreaded weeks of exams. Not only is there greater emphasis on not procrastinating, but there is also a roller coaster of emotions that we all must ride, whether we like it or not.
Almost inevitably, unless you are an ideal student, in which case, congratulations, you may be the only one in this institution, you leave one exam feeling incompetent, certain that you have failed.
But, it is over, and there is never time to dwell, so you move on to the next exam. Miraculously, most of the time our brains retain some information from our classes. We manage to string enough words together to complete exams and sometimes even feel great about them.
When you hand in a surprisingly decent exam, you feel victorious as the stress lifts off your shoulders. However, as confidence grows, it nurtures procrastination.
Inevitably, I find myself cramming the night before an exam. The anxiety has then doubled because, in addition to worrying whether I’ll retain any information of importance, I am chastising myself for procrastinating. Yet, the exam passes and relief replaces stress.
The extreme change in emotion from panicked and nauseous to relieved and starving in the span of only a few hours cannot be conducive to good heart health. In fact, everyone would agree that students’ health deteriorates during exams.
While I have never been able to pull-off an all-nighter, I have friends who do so repeatedly. The things that would help us out the most – eating regularly and sleeping more than a few hours – are the things we cut out of our lives.
“I don’t eat. I don’t sleep. I forego all normal living habits in finals mode. I go semi-insane,” says Stamatinos.
It is a terrifying thought to think of a life lived in ‘finals mode,’ because for many people, it is unsustainable. Exams bring with them an almost apocalyptic atmosphere. The idea that you’ll fail a class seems about as horrendous as losing a job you love, so we do all that we can and sacrifice whatever seems necessary in order to pass. Practicality seemingly flies out the window as classes end and exams begin.
Regardless of the intensity of finals, we all seem to make it out of them alive. When finals are over, it is as though the world is a new place. When you’re walking down the street, you notice your surroundings and see other people around you instead of repeating equations, notes, or quotations in your head as you march, head down, toward your classroom.
As Stamatinos describes it, “I feel like I’ve just been out of this prison, and I’ve seen the sun for the first time in ten years.”
Finals can get you caught up in a world of your own where a couple of weeks seem never-ending.
When the weeks do end, there are a few days of lingering elation as those without demanding jobs revel in free time. The days of sitting at home all day, watching shows and reading books you choose, too, are fantastic.
For the first time in months, there is nothing you should be reading or writing. However, when you realize its Friday and you haven’t left the house since Monday, something is wrong.
After finals, the super-drive mentality of studying immediately shifts into relaxation, and I find the extreme change difficult to navigate. Undoubtedly, the first few days of sleeping, eating, reading, and watching movies are fantastic.
After a while, however, the boredom seems to eat away at your brain. After a few days of glorious laziness, I began to feel depressingly useless. I begin to crave the feeling of purpose that comes from being in school.
There is a feeling of emptiness that comes after the end of a semester. Of course, time is your own, aside from work, but having a whole day to do anything you like is terrifying!
There is a reason we all begin a new project a week or two after finishing finals. Students find jobs, take summer classes, or the lucky ones head off on a trip.
Jordan Stamatinos chose to take classes over the summer when he couldn’t find a job that he wanted. He believes the extra time spent studying over the summer will be preferable to working for minimum wage and will allow him the time to graduate earlier.
I found a job this summer that I am excited about and that pays well, but if I hadn’t, I would have taken summer classes as well. The truth is that we need some sort of structure in our day. Though school is difficult and finals are dreadful, they provide purpose and a feeling of usefulness and development. The stress of finals is awful, sure, but I think the extreme lax state that follows is unbearable.
Dare I admit that school and the exams that come with it are good things? Maybe the structure we complain about is what keeps us productive. Or, perhaps I simply need to become more self-disciplined.
Regardless, though the post-finals couch days are great at first, it is time to get up and return to productivity, be that in the classroom or at a job.