Undoubtedly, this semester has been the most challenging of my undergraduate career and has been the most taxing on my own physical and emotional health.
It is tough being a college student, but regardless of what is going on in school, life continues, and thus, so do problems. However, with a good support system and great mentors, and of course balance, it always works out!
Finals week is a source of constant stress for all college students. I find that as I progress in my studies, mine become more focused and concise, which works for me.
As a history major, my finals consist of final papers that have no right or wrong answer, but rather ask me to condense everything from the semester into a viable argument that I have deduced from my own learning. Hence, my grade is dependent on how I use the sources I was given to present a reasonable argument in--usually--a 5-7 page paper. Some might find this to be the worst task in the world; I would much rather write a paper than take an exam in two hours.
However, there are still those cram sessions for exams. This semester I had one in-class exam before finals week, actually, and so I felt the burden of having pre-finals anxiety as I sat in the library for 8 hours straight. But everyone goes through it, and most people get through it.
What I have found works for me is constant re-writing. Throughout the semester I take notes in my notebooks; as finals draw near, I start retyping those notes in the form of a study guide, and once that is all done, I print it and just read and re-read it. Absorption, of sorts, is key for me, but find whatever works for you and stick to it!
And, aside from my final papers and exam, I also had to do two presentations! As an honors history student, my pre-major paper class required us to present our prospectus--or rather, the proposal for the papers we would write during our senior years--to our class. Our professors wanted us to have experience presenting in a formal environment, so it was actually a lot of fun.
And, as my research with the Immigration History Research Center drew to a close, we also presented to a group of family, friends and colleagues the research we had each carried out. It was great to hear the work of other students working with the IHRC on different media projects, and it was especially exciting for me to present with the students I have been working with for this semester. Strangers in the beginning, these individuals taught me so much about their own cultures and backgrounds and even strengthened my own desire to learn more about the global world we live in. I will truly miss them next semester.
But both of these presentations were, while nerve-wracking, great opportunities that allowed me to exhibit the work I've spent so much time on and receive feedback from colleagues as to different approaches I can take with my research.
But like I said, this semester has been quite trying. My (over) involvement in research, internships, and outreach activities limited my time to do anything, really. This semester forced me to really prioritize my life and decide what was important in my undergraduate career, which ended up eliminating a lot of social activities I used to partake in.
Also, the lack of sleep and constant stress led to the development of my worst enemy--a twitch in my left eye that lasted for about two months. It got so bad to the point that my fellow Ambs (CLA Student Ambassadors) worried about my sleep and constantly advised me to rest. I'm telling you, without these people in my life, I do not know what I would do.
So, although there is always stress, and there is always going to be more work to accomplish, have a support system that will force you to realize that if you aren't well, or if your eye is twitching, that is priority. A great lesson I learned: learn to say "no," and sometimes, you just need to put yourself first! :)