Post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications
While it may sound surprising, I don’t always know what to write about in my weekly blogs—with so many events around campus, it’s often difficult to come up with one concrete idea. But I think it’s safe to say that this week, I should write about finals. I’ve seen all of your faces. And the panic is palpable. On Monday, I walked through the Jackson Library and could barely move. It felt like grand central station around the printing stations, and it took me five—no, not five, ten, no, not ten, fifteen—minutes to find a computer in the super lab. We’re all figuring out how to survive this week, and that’s why I’m writing this blog. So all of these thoughts are for you.
If you try to access my blogs from http://www.uncg.edu/ you have to click on the Current Students link, followed by The Graduate School and then look near the bottom of the page. But this blog isn’t just for grad students. If you’re an undergraduate—which may be zero of you, or one—I know what you’re going through, from personal experience. Finals week has always been the most stressful time of year. I like to think of it as an underwater breath-holding competition: just as your mind starts playing tricks on you and you think you’ll die if you hold out any longer, you suddenly get to emerge and take a big breath of fresh air. Maybe that’s not the best analogy, but it seemed appropriate in my head. At the end of our finals, there’s a long winter break awaiting us. Essentially, that’s what’s getting me through this week: the fact that graduate school makes me feel (in certain ways) like an undergrad again.
After graduating from Gettysburg College, I worked two jobs that gave me one week off per year. In my interviews for both jobs, I asked how much vacation time I would receive—and while I didn’t get the answer I wanted, I had to take the jobs anyway. I sacrificed my vacation time for the possibility of getting a bi-monthly paycheck; and while my bank account was happy, the amount of time I got to spend with my family became limited. It’s for this reason that I don’t mind final weeks: at the end of it, we all get to go home.
But this doesn’t mean I’m ready to leave UNCG. Even as I write this, it’s strange to think I’ll be so far from campus, especially for an entire month. For me, home is just outside of Philadelphia, which means I’ll be approximately 475 miles from the Moore Humanities and Research Administration building (according to Google maps, if you take I-495 around DC). The MHRA is where all of my classes are held and has become my graduate school home throughout the semester. While I’m excited that finals will soon be over, I understand that I’m now a quarter of my way through graduate school. If time continues to go by this quickly, I might be graduating next week.
As I approach my finals, I truly appreciate the moments that await us. Since we’re recently off of Thanksgiving break, the idea of being home is fresh in my mind. For instance, the day after Thanksgiving, my sister had me set up the VHS player in order to watch Home Alone 2. The top of the VHS was caked in dust, and I’m fairly certain it was made in the eighteenth century. While it took me over an hour to figure out how a VHS player can be utilized in 2013, I eventually got it work, and Macaulay Culkin immediately reminded my sister and me of our childhood. As I approach this finals week, I think of moments like these, when I’m able to sit by the fire with my family and watch corny movies.
While UNCG may not advertise our vacation time on its website, it’s nice to think of the upcoming breaks as something we’re working toward. I know that once finals are over, I will start planning out next semester. Perhaps that’s what this crazy week really offers: an appreciation of what comes next. Although I still have a few more nights of hard work ahead of me, I keep reminding myself of why I’m here and of the rewards that soon await me. I feel like I’ve written all of my blogs as if I’m trying to become a motivational speaker, so I guess I won’t stop now. If you think like me and imagine finals week as one long underwater breath-holding competition, just keep pushing yourself a little bit more. Pretty soon we’ll all be able to take that one big sigh of relief.
Post by Matt Barrett
Graduate Assistant for Communications
Photography courtesy of the UNCG Image Collection
So midterms are upon us. How do I know? Yesterday I walked into one of my classes and a professor said, “Have you gotten your anti-depressants yet?” I took a glance at my syllabus and saw that my first paper is due in a couple weeks. But rather than succumbing to stress, I have a few suggestions for you (and myself) which might help us cope with the seemingly endless papers and tests. Not all of these suggestions will apply to everyone, but I’ve compiled a list, which could be beneficial for those of us who suddenly have mountains of work.
1. Take some time to exercise. The campus fitness center is a great way to take your mind off classes and substitute stress with endorphins. And if you need some motivation, try one of the group exercise classes for free. You read it right: free. The fitness center holds several classes in the Indoor Cycling room, the Rosenthal Pool, and the Fitness Studio. All classes are open to UNCG students, and sign-up is typically first come, first serve. If you’re looking to relax your mind, consider the yoga classes. If your goal is to blow off steam, try the cycling or aqua sessions. For a complete list of group exercise classes, take a look at the website, and grab a clean pair of athletic shorts: http://campusrec.uncg.edu/fitness/group-exercise/.
2. Go for a hike. Do you know that Greensboro has over forty-two miles of hiking trails? Now you do. It’s always good to get some fresh air, especially when your books are dusty and your desk is cluttered. I’d suggest trying Nat Greene, “one of the oldest and most popular of the City’s watershed trails” which has access to the marina. Bicycling is not allowed, so if you’re looking for a peaceful, undisturbed stroll, you might even go the whole 3.6 miles. If you want more information on hiking, or a full list of Greensboro’s trails, you can find it here: http://www.greensboro-nc.gov/index.aspx?page=1372.
3. Grab a bite in town. Or drink a beer, but I’m not sure if I can say that up front. Speaking of the Nat Greene hiking trail, my favorite Greensboro restaurant is Natty Greene’s, a local brewery. If you’re looking for a delicious meal and a good drink, then check them out. Their Thursday beer special is two dollars for any pint, any time of day. So if you’re feeling stressed, why not head there? But if you don’t feel like walking that far, you can practically crawl to Old Town Draught House, a little bar about fifty feet from the Humanities building. Both places offer cheap meals, so if your wallet’s feeling a little empty; I just planned your next night out.
4. Find a good seat on campus. Sometimes I forget how beautiful our school is, and I bet you do too, during the more stressful times of year. Beside the Elliot Center, there’s a fountain with about a dozen tables around it. I passed by it the other night and listened to the sound of flowing water. I wanted to take a seat, but my class was in a few minutes—and I knew if I sat down, I’d fall asleep. It’s a truly relaxing place to study or take a snooze, whichever you prefer. And for those who haven’t lost their inner child, try the nearby swing set. I pass it each time I leave the Elliot Center, and I’m tempted every day to go for a swing. So if you’re feeling stressed and not too bashful, make sure you spend an afternoon there.
5. Get a massage. Even as I write the word “massage,” I want a massage. So if you have a couple bucks to spend, check out the Student Health Center, where massages are only $30 for half an hour, and $45 for an hour. Or if you’re feeling particularly daring, head to the health center on September 30th or October 7th, between 9:00am and noon, for an acupuncture clinic. According to the UNCG website, “Acupuncture has been proven to be a very effective treatment for anxiety and feelings of stress, no matter what the cause.” And what better time for anxiety treatment than midterm season? For more information and how to schedule an appointment, take a look at the website: http://shs.uncg.edu/wellness/massage.
Essentially, what I’m recommending is that you take some time for yourself, even when the work seems endless. Your midterms will end—they always do—and then you’ll move onto the next task. So it’s important to enjoy this time as much as any other. I wish you the best of luck, and relax!