{ Reflections upon the lovelier times during midterms week }

The week before fall break is commonly known as midterms week, where professors grill your brain and take a bite out of it to determine if you've soaked up sufficient seasoning to deserve a "Satisfactory Progress" on your midterm report. While midterm exams are indeed the centerpiece of the week, the name "midterms week" is a bit misleading: yes, we take exams, but they consist of about 3% of the entire week. (I calculated it: 5 hours of exam time ÷ (24 hours/day times 7 days/week) ≈ 0.03.) For me, it's a week of unnecessary sweating, discovering new greasy foods, and inventing new ways to distract myself from studying. Most of it goes by like an out-of-body experience: the entity known as Sophia completes her tasks as needed, but I do not remember willing the entity known as Sophia to do so. The most memorable parts of the week are actually the study breaks.

This semester, I actually had my exams several weeks before midterms week because my professors thought they were doing us a favor. "I believe that giving an exam the week before fall recess is cruel!" my quantum mechanics professor, the notorious but lovable Dan Styer, said two weeks ago. He promptly administered a three-hour take-home exam that I did not finish. I ate half a pound of cheese after taking it.

My exams were over, but my week was still as dense as a poundcake: I still had problem sets due, data to take, and papers to write. Since I was done with exams by midterms week, my gut instinct was to turn my brain off and play online Dominion. I was mostly successful in ignoring this instinct, but in my more vulnerable moments, I found myself abandoning the books for some meaningful frivolity. I ate chunks of brie with my chum Chloe. My cohort Harmony and I took a 15-minute break from studying to give each other epic back massages. I drank gallons of peppermint tea between lines of Java code. I went to the A Capella Study Break under the library ramp, where all the a capella groups perform the Wednesday of midterms week.

The best study break was when Jenny, my buddy and co-head cook in Pyle, my fellow cooks, and I made burritos from scratch for co-op dinner on Wednesday. We made fresh salsa with tomatoes and jalapenos; fresh tortillas; well-seasoned beans. We'd planned the meal a week in advance to ensure we had all the necessary ingredients, so watching bleary-eyed co-opers shovel in the food we'd made was especially rewarding. I also ate a lot of cheese at that meal.

It's fall break now, which means that I'm home; I try not to change out of my pajamas all day; my mother tucks me into bed before I promptly pass out at 10 p.m., and stress eating has been replaced by relaxation eating. Four more days before I return to that spicy tofu dish, Oberlin College...

*Okay, I did sleep. I spent about 25% of my midterms week sleeping.

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{ Responses To This Entry }

In my defense, the exam was handed out on the Wednesday two weeks before "midterms week" and due on the Wednesday one week before midterms week.

Posted by: Dan Styer on October 28, 2010 10:46 AM

Sophia you have a blog here now! I enjoy your writing so much.

And I love that your professor was the first one to post a comment, in defense.

Posted by: Jiayu Lin on November 6, 2010 9:11 PM

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