Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

Independent Student Newspaper Since 1969

The Badger Herald

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Finals stress not totally necessary

Dear Clare,

This is my first semester here at Madison and I'm very scared for finals because I'm taking a lot of different kinds of classes and am overwhelmed and don't know how to study because there's so much information.

Can you help?

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Stupid Scared Student

Dear Stupid,

Let's hope that you won't be tested on grammar in any of your finals because that was a painfully long run-on sentence. Wait, I need to recover for a moment because that was just ridiculous. Deep breath. OK, I'm fine.

If you have done nothing all year, you need to start studying now, as in right this second. Now, of course, you know the normal advice: get sleep, stay organized, blah blah blah. I would like to give you some tips you don't hear often that I have picked up over the years and that may help you in your plight. Here are some guidelines that will help keep you focused:

Have a positive attitude. Stop complaining about all those papers and exams because you have to do them — and so does everyone else. Two years ago, I was a whiny brat like you and complained about the 11-straight hours I spent at the library to an older and wiser friend. He was able to put a new spin on finals for me that has helped me ever since. He let me see how completely ridiculous finals are: when are you ever in your life going to willingly spend 11-straight hours sitting in one little spot completely by yourself? The answer is NEVER because you will have other responsibilities will require your attention during that time. With academics, your sole responsibility is to get your work done. It doesn't even have to be good work; you just have to do it. Just think about when you're done with college and will never have to take an exam again! Oh, shush up, you little grad/med/law school applicants who are thinking, "Whatever, Clare. I'm still going to take exams." — I'm not talking to you.

Study in blocks of time rather than long unproductive hours. Some academic person somewhere did some study concluding that studying in 50-minute blocks was the most productive way to absorb information. These blocks should be preceded by a short 10-minute break after which you start back up again. Study breaks refresh you before you face the next onslaught of information absorption. Study breaks are helpful; study vacations, however, are dangerous because you will lose your focus. Keep the breaks short but frequent.

Don't go to College Library — there are more than 30 different libraries on this campus, yet most of the people you know probably go to College Library. Go to http://library.wisc.edu/libraries and pick a library you've never been to or heard of. Chances are your friends haven't heard of it either, so it would be a great place for you to be ALONE and free from distractions.

Bring snacks. This will make you happier and will eliminate the "I'm hungry" excuse to leave the library. Try to make them somewhat healthy, though; finals week is not an excuse to gain 10 pounds. The elation of being finished with the world of academia during break shouldn't be subdued by the depression brought on from your newly formed love handles.

Buy earplugs. Again, limiting distractions is key. I am a huge earplug fan (wow, that makes me sound so cool). You can purchase them at Walgreens and some even come in funky colors, which is completely unnecessary, seeing as they go in your ears.

Learn something! We often forget that the point of finals is to confirm that you actually learned something over the semester. I know I am an anomaly in this opinion, but I think it's actually enjoyable to go into a building knowing nothing about the Suharto dictatorship in Indonesia and come out an expert! Try to actually enjoy what you are learning and you will understand it better.

Shower and wash your clothes. Though we are all busy, you will feel better about yourself if you are somewhat clean and not a rotting ball of grease. Even if you don't care about your extreme filth, for the sake of us all, please go wash yourself.

Disclaimer: Though Clare, of course, believes in her own advice, she doesn't always seem to follow it. As a result, please don't point out the odd shininess (grease) of her hair or the frequency at which she wears her (unwashed) zebra pants during finals week. She will not find it amusing.

I really wanted to make 10 points for this list, but I think that will do for now. You really need to stop reading and go study because you're screwed … how's that for a call to action?

Good luck, little freshman!

Clare

Dear Clare,

I just moved here this semester from the University of West Florida and am really excited about all the snow. I feel stupid though, because I don't know if I'm too old to go play in it. What is appropriate to do in the snow as a male college junior?

Snowed In

Dear Snowed,

Or maybe I should say, the most mature college boy in the world. Are you really worried about what is "appropriate"? Stop worrying! I have one verb, my friend, which encompasses every activity one can partake in with snow: FROLICKING! For all the nerds reading this, I'm aware that this is actually an intransitive verb so don't send me nasty e-mails about it. Now, Snowed, I'm assuming you are familiar with what it means to "frolic," but just in case you're a bit dim — which, judging from your question, isn't a completely implausible assumption — "frolic" or "frolicking" can be defined as "merrymaking, joking, teasing; romp; a carefree time."

Around campus, you can go skating at the Shell or sledding down one of our many lovely campus hillsides. If you have access to a cafeteria tray (a.k.a., go take a cafeteria tray), you can put your little worried bottom on it and fly down the steep hills of Liz Waters. I don't feel like there are enough snowmen or snow people, to be politically correct, so I would personally like to encourage you to choose this option. Snowball fights are also a great way to relieve some stress, but please don't decide to start attacking some poor passersby.

My preferred way to frolic in the snow actually doesn't include any of the aforementioned activities: I like to get all marshmallowed up (putting on lots of layers and abandoning all fashion sense) and walk out onto frozen Lake Mendota when the night is dark and the light from the stars reflects off the glistening snow. Walk out a little ways and just look at your beautiful surroundings. It's almost a surreal experience because you've probably never really seen our little coast from this other side before. After taking in the view, you can do snow-angels and all that jazz, or make a big message in the snow with your feet. I don't know why the latter is fun, but it is. Going out with your little crush and doing this is even better. Please don't go out by yourself because that would make me sad. CAUTION: The lake right now is not yet frozen! According to my friend Michele, "In order for a large body of water to freeze, the temperature outside has to be below freezing for days on end," which thankfully, it hasn't been yet. Now I don't know why Michele is an ice expert, but she sounds like she knows what she's talking about, so don't go out there yet. Being a Minnesotan or a "Sconnie" helps, so ask one of them for further advice. Perhaps when we return for second semester you can bring the love you met over break onto the then-frozen Lake Mendota for a little frolicking.

Good luck, my friend,

Clare

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