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Survivor: Dead Week edition

Samantha Rudelich

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Grab your coffee and comfiest clothes because the worst week of the semester is upon us. Dead Week, sandwiched between Thanksgiving break, which only facilitates laziness and over-indulgent eating, and Finals week, which requires steady concentration and determination, this week typifies a perfect storm of disaster. Campus sinks into a turkey-induced depression during Dead Week that even a win over Auburn struggles to pull us away from. Panicked and stressed students can be found everywhere you turn, clutching their textbooks and mumbling about how they just want to be free. This is the week when everyone seems to be one final paper away from pulling a ’03 Britney and literally pulling their own hair out.

As your journey through higher education advances, Dead Week increasingly embodies the term “dead.” The death of your GPA, career and spirit. You spend hours questioning why anyone would subject themselves to this torture. Your study breaks consist of you calling your parents to, once again, convince them that leaving school to pursue your dream of becoming a child star is a much more viable option. Yet, somehow each semester I always forget how sincerely awful this week. My brain must be protecting myself from the emotional toll Dead Week takes on my psyche. However, throughout the years, there are a couple of strategies I utilize in order to die just a little bit less. They might not all work for everyone, but if anything I contribute helps minimize the Dead Week casualties, I feel as though my job is done.

First, try to leave past mistakes in the past. Dwelling on classes you missed because sleep sounded so much better or tests that you could have done better on won’t help your grade now. Forget about all the time you wasted not studying but actually enjoying yourself during break, and try to focus on the specific tasks at hand. Sure, reflecting on methods to make this week slightly less depressing will enable you to survive future Dead Weeks, but wait until after finals to strategically plan for next semester. Right now, berating yourself for past decisions will only discourage you from moving on and focusing on completing the semester.

Second, use every single resource available. The time for being too embarrassed to email your professor or ask your TA for further explanation has passed. Find the annoying person in class that complains about getting a 90 on a test and beg them to tell you everything they learned. Google videos of other people explaining concepts you struggle with. Anything that can be done to enrich your understanding of the material should be used.

Third, take a break. When you feel physically and emotionally abused from staring at your computer for 12 hours straight, just walk away. Go outside, take a breath and stretch a little bit. Read a chapter of the new book that came out that you have been dying to get your hands on. Watch an episode of a show that never fails to make you smile. Do whatever enables you to relax and decompress for a little bit so that you can come back and look at your work with fresh eyes. I would suggest setting a timer to limit the break, just in case your “quick break” turns into finishing the entire West Wing series. A short break prevents a stress breakdown later and enables you to study longer and more efficiently.

Finally, remember that this week will end. Soon you will be back home, hibernating from the world and recovering from finals. The only thing in your path are these last tests, projects and papers. These assignments seem impossible, but the best place to start would be to actually start. Once you write your ideas down, coming back and fixing it becomes easier. A professor of mine always says that “perfection is the enemy of done.” I completely subscribe to notion that finishing something perfectly on the first try tends to be impossible. But to get to a shiny, presentable product takes diving in and fixing later. The fact is that the sooner the work is done, the sooner you can finally relax. Even though Dead Week and finals cause great pain, the refreshing breath of relief taken once it all ends compares to no other feeling. So fear not, in less than two weeks, the suffering endured during Dead Week will be a distant memory, not to be relived until next semester. 

Samantha Rudelich is a junior majoring in management. Her column runs biweekly.

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Survivor: Dead Week edition