So.. hi! The last time we spoke seems to be quite a while ago and surprisingly enough, a few things have changed. Back then I had just come back from spring break (and from writing a blog post in the back of a taxi…) and was getting ready for the final run of project finishing and wrapping up classes before finals week.
Finals week is something that as a non-American student I find pretty interesting. I feel like we’re so used to watching panicky finals week memes leak across the Atlantic and fill out news feeds, that we imagine finals week must be the awful and horrendous result of what would happen if you squeezed all of our month long summer exams into one week. This my friends, is not true! What we don’t think about is the fact the American system is so heavily centred around continuous assessment methods such as weekly homework assignments and midterm exams. In reality, final exams in the US are generally only worth between 30 and 50%- much more manageable! Nevertheless, that doesn’t mean to say that finals week is distinctly ‘pleasant’, so here are a few tips to try to make it more so.
Manage your time throughout the year so that the stress is off during finals.
- Okay, okay, I know. This one is so much easier to say than to do, so I’ll get it out of the way and you can continue on to maybe hearing something you didn’t already know. That said, it is only logical (especially within the US system) that if you put the work in throughout the year for the smaller weekly/monthly things like homeworks and midterms when you HAVE THE TIME TO SPARE, you’ll have much less to worry about when finals roll in. Plan it right and you’ll probably have passed before you even sit down in that exam hall.
Make use of the services available to you on campus.
- Compared to the facilities at home, Unis stateside do a *lot* for you. While living with a dining hall might not be everyone’s cup of tea, during finals week they can be perfect. Make sure you use your dining hall to your full advantage and keep yourself eating well and healthy so that all you have to focus on are your studies. The same can be said about exercise. If exercise is your thing, make sure you’re still finding time for that workout session or spin class. A constant routine can really help you to manage your stress levels during a time like finals.
Try not to stress.
- As much as it pains me to say it, your amazing time on exchange is coming to a close whether you want it to or not. The worst thing you can do now is waste the last few weeks you have with all of your new friends in your amazing country locked in your room freaking out. Try your best to make time for your people and for down time. Use that time as motivation to really study within the time you give yourself and make the most of what time that you have left.
- Another one you’ve definitely heard before… If nothing else, try not to sacrifice your sleep! While it may be tempting to get up late and stay up late (or worse get up early and then stay up late too) you really aren’t helping yourself by depriving yourself of sleep and pulling crazy all nighters. Try try try to get enough sleep and to give your brain time to relax and unwind before another full day of exams and study.
- I imagine by the time finals week rolls around you’ll be pretty familiar with this one, but as an exchange student it can be weird and sometimes pretty isolating being that kid walking around not knowing where any of the buildings are. Just like at Glasgow, final exams can be scheduled pretty much anywhere on campus, so make sure you check exactly where they are and that you know where that building is. There is nothing more unsettling than running into an exam hall with thirty seconds to spare before the exam starts! Another way you can help to reduce your stress levels is making sure that you know exactly how well you have to do in any given exam. As much as you should always want to do your best, many people find it helps them to relax if they realise they only need ten more percent to pass/get a B etc.
On that ‘make time for your friends’ note, I would also strongly suggest trying to make as many American/local friends as you can. Most of the best experiences I’ve had on exchange have been based around my friends taking me back to their hometowns and showing me around. Which is actually how I spent the last weekend pre finals, in Fairfield, CT spending an amazing Easter weekend with my friend Grace and my Australian friend Shelby at Grace’s family’s Easter party.
I repeat: Make. Friends. With. Americans!
Peace out Glasgow!