The Undergrad Guide: December Days

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It’s December 1st. Imagine: the fireplace is glowing, the Christmas tree is being picked and holly is strung by the chimney with care. But it’s not— there’s no fireplace, the only thing being picked is which class to stress over first, and the only thing being cared about is tomorrow’s exam and the 20 page paper due the next day. December is supposed to mark the beginning of the Christmas season; however, first you must focus on the dreaded exam season. Whether it is your first time experiencing the hustle and bustle of this month or your last time conquering this season, December exams are a fear that many bear.

What appears to be most difficult is the departure from the November blues: the feeling that one difficult month is done, only to welcome one more. December exams are difficult, daunting, and unwelcomed. The cold weather sets in, the snow begins to fall, and this month you pray your GPA doesn’t as well. So, don’t forget to take time for yourself, seek help as you need it, and remember you’re never alone. Exams are consuming and entering that room of hundreds of students with a plastic bag of pencils is sickening, but within three hours, you realize you can do it. Before you know it, it will be over. With that being said, here are 15 pieces of advice to remember that will help get you through the period before the final.

1. At times when it feels like nothing is going right and failure is imposing… you’re going to make it out alive.
2. Eat that ice cream and those cookies at 2 AM during that all-nighter. You deserve the treat.
3. Probably don’t drink that coffee at 2 AM.
4. FUEL YOUR BODY. Properly! Get yourself a set of 3 healthy snacks that you can turn to that are easily compactible (library snacks are crucial).
5. A Starbucks Christmas cup makes every day a little better. Sometimes, it’s the little things.
6. Don’t forget to give yourself a break— this time is vital for sanity. A 5-minute break every hour can keep those unwanted tears from falling.
7. Figure out your study spot! Whether it’s the library, at home, or in a café, try something new!
8. Figure out your best study style. Test different ways to see which is most effective for you. Everyone is different, so what may work for a friend may not work for you! Some options may be cue cards, mind maps, one page summaries, or even just reading!
9. Tea has caffeine too, and other benefits which will help your exhausted body through this time.
10. Healthy snacks are effective— sweet treats are essential. Life is about balance.
11. Sometimes, crying is inevitable. That hopeless feeling may set in and something will set off those wet salty drops streaming down your face. Call your mom, take a shower, and step away. Restart in an hour with a clear mind.
12. Get yourself a groutfit. You will sleep, eat, breathe, and study in this. Whether it’s the classic grey-on-grey all Roots tracksuit or your favourite lulus and a turtleneck, comfort is your best friend during this time.
13. There’s nothing more hopeful than the sound of Michael Bublé’s Christmas album. Start every day with his glorious voice.
14. Friends are family. During this time, the distance away from home feels greater than ever. Turn to your neighbour, your classmate, or even your prof. A strong support system helps every day a little more.

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Finally, remember that the outcome is unknown. But when you put in the study time and stay awake late until your eyes burn and your brain is mush… you’ve tried. At the end of the day, if you have put forth your best efforts, the rest is up to the professors. Sometimes, you need to relax and realize that, yes, university is difficult, but this exam does not define you. Failure or success, welcome the outcome with gratitude and take it all as a learning experience. Before you know it, your last December will be approaching and your last exam of 2016 will be over. Just like that, in the blink of an eye, half of this year will be done and you will look around to find that campus no longer seems scary— and, all of a sudden, you are falling in love with this journey.

Emily Battler
Online Contributor