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Finals week as described by dead dudes who definitely had more important things to worry about than grades

| Monday, December 4, 2017

Reading Day, the beginning of the end:

“Through me the way into the suffering city …

Abandon all hope, who enter here.”

– Dante, “Inferno

Yeah, you see the giant sign warning you not to enter, but you descend into Hell anyway. How could you not? You’ve already made it so far this semester. And besides, you don’t yet know the depths of the despair you will encounter.

Saturday and Sunday:

“In short, our gentleman became so caught up in reading that he spent his nights reading from dusk til dawn and his days reading from sunrise to sunset, and so with little sleep and too much reading his brains dried up, causing him to lose his mind.”

– Cervantes, “Don Quixote

You’ve just spent 48 hours straight in Club Hes and you’ve forgotten what the sun looks like. You truly have entered the depths of Hell. You know this because it is 98 degrees in the library. Students surround you, all with their heads bent downward reading books or furiously scribbling on a page. Eyes are glazed over from computer monitors. You’re crammed into a cubicle on the 12th floor. A cubicle? You thought it would never come to this. Late Sunday night you stumble out of the inferno and fall into bed in your dorm room.

Monday morning:

“Much of human knowledge is lacking to everyone, and to many it is entirely lacking.”

– Petrarch, “On His Own Ignorance and that of Many Others

All that work you thought you accomplished in the past weekend? Not enough. There is still so much to learn, but time is running out. You do the only thing you can: develop a new mindset. I won’t know everything, but at least I know something?


“One sorrow comes today, another shall come tomorrow.”

– Aeschylus, “The Libation Bearers

You have one comfort this finals week, and that is knowing it will end, whether or not you survive it. Each day will come to a close, and every exam will conclude, no matter how much of it you’ve actually completed. At this point, you are just counting down the hours to Friday.

Friday, 3:45 p.m.:

“He tore the golden brooches from her robe, lifted them up as high as he could reach, and drove them with all his strength into his eyes, shrieking, “No more, no more shall my eyes see the horrors of my life—what I have done, what I have suffered.”

– Sophocles, “Oedipus the King

No, you’re not stabbing your eyes out. But you are likely chucking out your notebooks and closing the millions of tabs on Chrome that you left open. You’re laughing with your friends over the question you absolutely made up or essay conclusion you extended until it reached the page requirement. Fantasies of ice skating trips and family card games fill your mind on the bus to the airport. Christmas music blares through your headphones. You smile.

Finals week? Ehhh, it wasn’t too bad.

The views expressed in this column are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Observer.

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