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Finding the good in finals

Andrew Ziccarelli | Friday, January 15, 2010

Oh, syllabus week. It’s an indisputable fact that syllabus week, the first week of classes, is the best week of each semester. Labs are canceled, no one really learns anything, the idea of homework is laughable and teachers mostly just hand out course packets explaining what you are going to do when you actually, you know, start learning. It’s such a stark contrast from the last memories I have of Notre Dame coming back from break, which were obviously from finals week. Everyone is stressed out, burned out and frustrated during finals week. People worry about their grades, their projects and wonder why they didn’t even attempt to learn during the previous 14 weeks.
I, however, have a different view of finals week. I wouldn’t go so far as to say that I like it, but I certainly don’t loathe finals week as the bane of my existence the way that seemingly everyone else does (I know, I’m weird like that). Personally, I was way more stressed out the last week of class, mostly due to the unending list of projects that were due that week (ask any other junior CE major). However, even if I could coast during the last week of class, there are a number of opportunities that finals week affords that makes it different from all other weeks of the semester.
Finals week is the easiest conversation starter in the world. You can go up to any person, stranger or not and just huff, “Ugh, I hate finals” to which the other person will, no doubt, agree enthusiastically and then proceed to bombard you with their remaining schedule for the rest of the week and a countdown until they are done. Seriously, try it sometime. And, like a lot of other people, I allow myself to eat whatever makes me feel good during finals, which is typically a steady diet of Chipotle, Recker’s pizza and care package chocolate.
When it comes to wardrobe, the entire world of style comes to a screeching halt. Nobody judges what you wear. If it were up to me, I would love to walk around in sweatpants or flannel pants, a t-shirt and moccasins every single day. Normally, though, I make an attempt to look presentable, at the very least, sometimes even classy. But finals week is not one of those times. I walk all over campus looking like I just rolled out of bed and nobody so much as even looks twice and that’s because they don’t look any different. Finals week is the most comfortable week of the year, if nothing else.
More than anything, though, finals week provides me and every single other college student in America the opportunity to find new and creative ways to procrastinate. With the rise of Internet video sharing, it is possible to watch essentially any television show that you want, whenever you want. And when I want to watch TV the most is when I should be studying. The worst part of this year was that I actually ran out of episodes of “How I Met Your Mother” to watch to distract myself from doing actual work. Between fall break and finals week, I somehow managed to watch almost 100 episodes, a fact of which I am not sure whether to be proud or disgusted (maybe a little of both).
And while TV is great, the best way to procrastinate is to Sporcle. Constantly. What’s Sporcle? Simply put, it is the best Website on the internet and certainly the most addicting. Sporcle is simply a collection of quizzes, set to a timer. Each quiz is a list of blanks and a clue is given to the player to fill in each item on the list, which all follow a common theme, before time runs out. It is an incredibly simple idea that has unlimited potential for creativity and entertainment. Some of them have to do with television shows, some have to do with movies, some have to do with sports and some can’t be classified into any one particular category (like words that begin and end with the letter T). There is something for, literally, everyone to do.
The reason I like Sporcle so much is that I actually feel like I am doing something productive with my brain while I am procrastinating, rather than letting it rot by watching YouTube videos. If you like reminiscing about old movies, songs or TV shows, Sporcle is full of quizzes that will test your memory and will keep you hooked for hours at a time. And, most importantly, playing involves typing on your computer, so it looks like you are typing a paper to anyone who cares to look or judge you. So when you go back and brag about how you spent eight straight hours at the library, you have on your conscience that you were doing work the whole time. Kind of.

Andy Ziccarelli is a junior majoring in Civil Engineering. He can be reached at aziccare@nd.edu
The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not
necessarily those of The Observer.