I wish March would mean rejuvenation, that used to be in high school, but March, in college, is the pinnacle of workload. Levels of stress increase along with the temperature. Not only are classes and other commitments stressing you out, but also the thoughts of finishing a year and commencing another. I think about financial aid, housing for next year, choosing classes, what to do with your stuff when the semester ends, internships for the summer, etc. it goes on and on and it never ends.
On the other hand, I feel that the education I am receiving is so valuable that I have confirmed my love for education. Before telling you about the second round of midterms, I want to tell you about a wonderful experience that I had a few days ago.
So Brandeis University has two Posse chapters, one from Atlanta and the other one from New York and every year they host a PossePlus Retreat. My roommate happens to be a Posse scholar and invited me, which made me feel quite honored.
The PossePlus Retreat was held over an entire weekend; about 200 students and faculty from Brandeis joined. In this space, we talked about words and their power. The theme of this year was titled “Sticks and Stones,” which, as you may know, is taken from the famous phrase “Sticks and stones may break my bones. But words will never hurt me.” The retreat challenged this old saying, claiming that words, in fact, do hurt, have a meaning, and a sort of impact on people, either good or bad. We talked about microaggression, trigger warnings, and the recent events that have been going around campus. It was interesting to talk about the recent #FordHall2015, this is when black students took the university’s president’s office and demanded the increase of minority representation in the institution (faculty, student body, courses’ material, etc.).
In hindsight, the retreat was utterly insightful. The professors, students, and faculty that were present brought nuanced and sharp perspectives that made me think differently and made me feel so fortunate to attend an institution like Brandeis. An institution where students are knowledgeable, critical thinkers, outspoken and wise. Everyone had their space to share their emotions and be confident about who they are as a person. There was one activity in particular, where we all walked around a circle and stand in a certain identity category. The categories varied accordingly to sexual orientation, social economical background, gender, ethnic group/culture, age, etc. Depending on the question, I would then stand on the identity that I thought it best fitted with the answer to the question. I thought of how good it felt to stand next to other people who feel and identify as I do.
It was a great, sort of break from school. There are times that school just gets too hectic, especially when I am taking five classes, doing clubs, working, and applying for internships. Nevertheless, I think of everything that I have gleaned from the subjects I have taken this first year and I feel as if I carry secret information that no other person does. That is college: sheer enlightenment.
Sure, midterms are stressful, however, the best tip I could bring to the table is to plan everything carefully. Manage your time wisely and try to get the best rest ever. For me resting 7 hours is a miracle, but I have other friends who do it, so it is possible, it is not a myth. It just happens to be that I feel more productive at night than during the day, but study habits varies from one person to the other. Try to take good notes during lectures, go to office hours because there are times professors will give you a copy of the previous exam that was administrated a year ago. The school also offers tutoring for virtually every subject and if it is not an exam but papers, I would recommend going to the writing center—they are a valuable resource.
The great thing about college, as I have said it before, is that there are a lot of resources for you to go to. You are paying for all of it, so you might as well use it. Do not come up with excuses, just use them, they will make your life easier, trust me.