Remember that sunshiny August day when you stepped out of your car onto campus? As a new student, you would have been a little excited and a whole lot nervous about the beginning of your new life. As a returning student, you were ready for the new semester, the reuniting with old friends and the prospect of new adventures.
How young and free we felt then!
Okay, I am dramatizing it a little bit, but seriously after three years, midterms still bring about the same drudgery semester after semester.
It’s the same thing every semester. We start off the semester excited: the smell of new notebooks, the different challenges each class will bring, the people in the class. It’s all a new adventure, and we look forward to the obstacles.
Now, seven weeks into the semester, we are in the thick of these obstacles. And some of them are beginning to feel like we are being crushed by them instead. And the signs are beginning to show.
Some of the major signs of a student bogged down in midterms are as follows:
First, a complete lack of social life. Even the most outgoing people are going to be found huddled in a desk at the library or buried under books in their dorm rooms at this time.
Second, zombie-like emotions. Sleep deprivation does take its toll, and even though we like to believe we’ll live forever, the bottom line is we become completely oblivious and inadequate after pulling an all-nighter.
Third, the common phrase becomes “pray for me!” I mean, it is Franciscan, we are Catholics and our friends spend so much time in the Chapel. Of course we’re going to ask for their prayers. But this time of year, it’s more of a desperate thing. Not just a happy, care-free “pray for me,” but more like a, “no seriously, I need your prayers.”
Fourth, we forget how to smile. Stress becomes our normal facial expression. For me personally, I feel like I’ve lived through an entire lifetime in one week of midterms. It becomes harder and harder to force that smile on your face when you are feeling the weight of so much on your shoulders.
Fifth, our diet becomes anything caffeinated and straight sugar. The nutrition value doesn’t matter. If it’s going to keep us awake, it will be consumed.
While I’m able to laugh about this too, as many do, it’s important also to remember several things to help us combat this midterm muck and continue living out our college experience, mostly so we don’t walk away from Franciscan only remembering how hard and stressful it was.
First, sleep! Sleep is the most important thing, and we somehow forget how to do it, or maybe we’re too wired, during midterms. The greatest piece of advice I was given my freshman year was that sleep was more important than my test. This also comes with self-control and prudence. Study earlier so I can go to bed earlier. (Wow! How come no one has thought of that one before?!) Sleep also helps the subconscious to process the material you have studied.
Second, reward yourself. Give yourself a break once in a while. Go for a walk, breathe in some fresh air. Study with friends and take a break to get food together.
Which leads to third: food. Remember to eat! It’s so important to energize yourselves. Studies have shown that food like bananas or eggs actually increase brain power. And this way too you don’t come crashing off a sugar high and end up sick. Or just end up sick in general because you weren’t eating correctly.
Fourthly, take some time to pray. Go sit in the Port for 20 minutes or in your dorm chapel. Let the Lord flood your heart. Don’t think, just be. Just sit and give your mind a rest from all the thinking it’s been doing. I guarantee your mood will change. You will be happier, more peaceful and more apt to smile! Ta-da!
Lastly, it’s important to remember that your time at Franciscan is so unique, each memory has a special place and this is one of those memories. Not every all-nighter can be avoided; some will be miserable, but others will be fun. And those happy days are coming again; with fall break approaching, they will be here before you know it.