Your guide to surviving finals
Classes have ended and W.I.L.D. is past. That can only mean one thing: finals week has arrived. Most of us manage to spend the entire semester in a blissful state of denial about these days arriving, but it’s now time to confront the endless hours of study, made worse by caffeine-induced panic attacks. But never fear: Scene staff members are here to share our best tips to surviving finals in a state of (relative) relaxation. –Scene Staff
Snack: I like to sneak food into Olin Library so that I don’t have to resort to the same foods from Whispers that I constantly eat. I generally tuck Nature Valley Dark Chocolate Granola Thins into my backpack because they’re healthy(ish) and provide energy but are still yummy. And then, of course, it’s all about coffee. The more, the better. I’d take an IV of coffee if that were a thing.
Off-campus spot: I like to go to the Starbucks in the Central West End. It has a really nice, relaxing vibe. There’s also the perfect amount of background noise so that I’m not disturbed but I don’t get as depressed as I would in the B-stacks. People watching outside the windows also provide a nice momentary procrastination method.
Procrastination method: Though my mother probably isn’t happy about this, it’s all about online shopping. If you walk by me in the library over the next week, it’s equally likely that I’ll be reviewing my Developmental Psychology notes as it is that I’ll be shopping for shorts from Anthropologie. Even if don’t buy, it still cheers me up. Retail therapy is very real, my friends.
Snack: When it comes to snacking while studying, I definitely need something with a combination of salty and sweet, as well as carbohydrates for quick energy and protein to keep me from endless munching. My go-to is usually some type of trail mix with nuts, dried fruit and, if I’m feeling like I need an extra treat, some dark chocolate. I also tend to snack on Luna or Cliff Bars. Interestingly enough, if you want the best of both worlds, you might opt for a trail mix Cliff Bar: it’s the newest flavor, and they have them at Paws & Go.
Off-campus spot: Although it is a well-known off-campus hangout and a place to see and by seen by other college students and professors alike, Kayak’s Coffee Shop is still my favorite study spot. The combination of the laid-back, local coffee shop atmosphere, the delicious and house-made breakfast and lunch items and the cozy wooden decor provides the perfect setting to study for a test or work on a homework assignment. If you go, you have to try the Sicilian omelet sandwich because it’s simply melt-in-your-mouth good.
Procrastination method: As a naturally anxious person, I truly despise procrastinating, but when it comes to a large project or paper that I am dreading or for which I simply do not have the mental energy to begin, I usually engage in “constructive procrastination.” It may seem like an oxymoron at first, but what I do is work on all other homework assignments, even those that are due much later than the aforementioned paper or project. This way, I feel productive and can check things off my agenda, but I am really delaying what is most pressing.
Snack: If you’re looking for something guilt-free and completely delicious to munch on while you cram for what feels like every final ever, get yourself some carrots and hummus. They provide a satisfying crunch and a sweet and salty flavor, and they’re nutritious to boot! The protein in the hummus will fill you up and provide a much-needed brain boost, and carrots are vegetables, so that’s gotta be healthy. Right?
Off-Campus Study Spot: A pleasant 15-minute jaunt down Forsyth Boulevard, Colleen’s Cookies provides a calm, well-soundtracked place to study when you need to get away from the stress and tears of Olin. More importantly, it serves fresh-baked cookies and other goodies that taste like sweet, delicious heaven. They also sell genuinely excellent artisan coffee—the best comparison I can make is good wine in coffee form. The baristas are delightfully friendly, and even though it might be a little pricier than Whispers Cafe, they’ll often give you a 10-percent discount if you mention that you’re a Wash. U. student.
Procrastination Method: With move-out day approaching almost as fast as finals, it’s time to start boxing up everything you want to keep and tossing everything you don’t. Cleaning is meditative, feels productive and is something you’ll have to do anyway—may as well get it done now rather than later. Bonus: you can watch Netflix while you clean. Two birds with one stone!
Snack: A day without a York Peppermint Patty is not a day worth living. For rejoicing after completing a long assignment or relaxing during that essential study break, the dark chocolate mint candy never fails to impress. Buying the 175-count box at the beginning of the semester seems to have paid off as I can snack on a refreshing Peppermint Patty at a moment’s notice.
Off-campus study spot: Forest Park is the go-to spot for studying outside the Wash. U. bubble. Sit down on a majestic grass field as you picnic with your buds and start studying alongside nature. Though the weather may be unpredictable, the beauty of studying outside on a gorgeous day should never be overlooked. One more tip: don’t forget sunscreen!
Procrastination method: If you’re not going to do work, you might as well be productive in another way. So when it’s time to procrastinate for a little bit, put on a pair of comfy sneakers and take some walking laps. Just stepping outside the depressing library will provide a spark to the day, and walking around campus will also burn a couple calories following the intermittent study snacks. Plus, it provides a rationalization for gossiping while you walk with friends, finally calling your family or listening to the new Jack White single. If you want to put off studying, just go for a nice walk.
Snack: For a sweet treat to brighten a gloomy, study-filled day in Olin, I always request one of Whispers’ chocolate-filled croissants. Halfway through this semester, I learned that their melty-chocolatey goodness is greatly augmented by a quick 30-second turnaround in the microwave—the result is mesmerizing. These doughy concoctions might be the opposite of healthy, and the carbs won’t do you any favors in terms of staying awake during long nighttime hours. However, if you’re headed home to your dorm after hour 12 or so of studying, feel free to reward yourself with this heavenly dessert.
Off-campus spot: If you’re looking to spice up your studying with a little something extra, hop on the MetroLink with some of your textbooks and find a place to study at the Galleria. The mall provides a relaxing atmosphere and has many places one can set up camp, such as Starbucks, the food court or a bench on any of the mall’s three levels. Plus, it’s the prime place for a study break: after finishing one of your final papers, or even just the first paragraph, reward yourself with a quick trip to one of your favorite stores. By using your reading week time in this way, you can get your schoolwork done while finding the finishing touches for your summer wardrobe.
Procrastination method: When studying gets you down, there’s nothing that can give you a total mood overhaul like a 35-minute jaunt on one of the ellipticals, treadmills or bikes in the South 40 Fitness Center or Athletic Complex. Exercise has been shown to boost brain power, memory retention and general positivity, so it’s the perfect activity to reduce stress during reading week. And it’s never too late to start. Just take it from me—after working out approximately once every two months during high school, I discovered the joys of a good workout early into my first semester of college and was amazed at how my grades and study skills flourished. You don’t need to commit a huge block of time, either. Even 20 minutes or so can make a huge difference.