Welcome to Liz’s Lemonade Stand, where the lemons of life are twisted into the sweetest lemonade.
Dead week. Finals week. Two weeks made out to be a hellish foray over the perfect study spot in the library. I wasn’t sure what to expect going into this fourteen-day campus-wide freak out other than seeing a significant increase in my regular coffee consumption. Now, the stress of finals week melting away like marshmallows in hot chocolate, I can say that the horror stories you hear about finals aren’t quite as awful as they sound, though that depends, of course, on how much work you put in throughout the semester. That said, I didn’t come out of exams completely unscathed.
The Lemon: My biology exam was scheduled for 7:30 A.M. to 9:20 A.M. on a Wednesday morning. In order to arrive to the lecture hall it was being administered in on time, I needed to catch a shuttle as soon as they started running, 7:00 A.M. Tuesday night, I fatefully decided to stay up late, reviewing my notes yet again and slaving through old math finals as practice for the trig exam I had on Thursday. Around 12:30 A.M., I decided to call it a night since I needed to get up relatively early for biology. In the back of my mind as I got ready for bed, I fretted over the possibility of oversleeping, as I do have an unfortunate history of doing exactly that (I once missed taking the SAT because I overslept; ‘twas a rough way to start a Saturday). Determined not to repeat the same mistake, I set not one, not two, but three alarms: one on my iHome and two on my cell phone. Confident and comforted by the thought of being awoken in less than six hours by the sound of electronic beeping (really, the only time this is a comforting thought is during finals week), I faded into a deep slumber.
Too deep of a slumber, as it turns out.
I awoke the next morning and groggily pulled my phone out from under my pillow.
I stared at the glowing numbers in confusion; how did my phone break? It was working just fine the night before. Then, the awful realization dawned on me and panic flooded every cell of my body. Electrocuted, I jolted out of bed. “Ohmygod ohmygod ohmygod,” I hissed. “Not again!”
My poor roommate groggily sat up. “Are you okay? What’s going on?”
“My biology final! It started at 7:30! I’m so late! What if they don’t let me take it? Oh my god, I-” My voice quavered, mind racing around pointlessly like a dog chasing its own tail. I paced back and forth, trying to figure out what I was supposed to do at this point, trying to figure out how I had managed to turn off three alarms with no recollection at all of doing so.
My roommate came to my aid. “Just put some sweats on and go! I’m sure you’ll be fine!”
I nodded, barely comprehending her. Luckily, due to finals, none of my laundry had made it back into my closet, so I grabbed a pair of sweats off my bed and put my glasses on- there was no time for messing around with contacts. I grabbed a granola bar and filled my water bottle and was out to the shuttle stop in under five minutes.
The shuttles also seemed to be running in my favor, but it still took an agonizing twelve minutes to arrive to the lecture hall. I tried to enter discreetly, taking a side door. Still panicked, I slunk down the stairs as stealthily as one can whilst wearing a winter coat. My cheeks burned; the walk of shame to the bottom of the hall to pick up a test made me want to melt. I can only imagine what the other test-takers were thinking. What kind of person has the nerve to show up 20 minutes late to a final exam? Look at her, in her puffy winter coat, disheveled hair in a sloppy bun, glasses askew; who does she think she is?
Actually, this was what ran through my head as I had to work my way through a row of people to the nearest empty seat. I took a deep breath and forced myself to remain calm and just settle down into the exam. The first question blurred in my mind, but I refocused and tried again; something about cell signaling. Once in testing mode, the question flowed easily and I finished with twenty-five minutes to spare.
However, I could not relax for the rest of the morning and it took the greater part of the afternoon to unwind. Anxious, I floated about in shock, only half understanding the math review I attended. My anxiety eased somewhat once I got the email containing my results (with Scantrons, it took only three hours to get scores back); despite starting off on the worst foot possible, I’d managed to walk away with an 88% on a test where the average was 61%.
The next morning, I woke up in a haze of paranoia at 5:45 A.M. and immediately got out of bed. I didn’t need to take any chances with being late for my math final.
The Lemonade: I struggled to find a spot to highlight a “lemonade moment” in this nightmarish tale, so here at the very end seems like the best spot. My rookie blunder aside, finals week doesn’t have to be immensely stressful as long as you put the work in beforehand. My advice? Make sure you get enough sleep and have a backup plan for when alarm clocks just don’t do the trick.
Good luck to those of you with finals this week, and enjoy your break for those of you already out of the woods!