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Sunday, August 1, 2021

The UCD Files: The Culmination

marxheadshot_opThis is it folks, the two things you’ve been dreading all quarter. First of all, finals week is upon us, but worst of all, the UCD Files is ending. It should be a finale for the books, more so like the “Parks and Recreation” finale than the “How I Met Your Mother” finale. We’ve been through a lot in these 10 weeks together, and it’s time to bring things to a close.

Consider the ending of the UCD files as a metaphor for your finals. As an ode to myself, the final(s) column represents all of the previous columns like finals represent all of the weeks of the quarter. It is a time to wrap up everything you have learned and everything you have experienced. It’s your time to go back and read all of the things you didn’t read to prepare yourself for the grand final(e).

In truth, finals week is the perfect combination of all of the topics of my previous columns. It is a week where your only focus is to finish your exams and get to spring break. There are no lectures to attend, turning your 15 (plus or minus a lot) hour class schedule into just four (plus or minus a lot) tests.

You now have all the free time in the world to do what you please. The professors, the parents, the Number 5 studiers would all say you should use your free time completely for preparing for exams. Instead, I think you should use it to discover new restaurants, new Netflix journeys and maybe even to learn the piano.

Feel free to disagree with me, but I actually find the structure of finals week to be a very nice change from the typical week. I always enjoy being able to wake up with nowhere to be and no reason to go to the lecture halls. The day is to be fully devoted to studying for the finals ahead. Whether you go to the library, the Coffee House or stay home, you can do so when you want without a strict deadline.

Spending all day studying instead of going to class has a positive effect on the study breaks as well. Taking breaks to cook an extravagant dinner or watch an episode of a show is much more justifiable when you have actually spent all day studying. It’s easy to come home from a couple hours of class during the weeks of the quarter and put off studying for a while. This often leads to regret, but something about the format of finals weeks makes these breaks perfectly fine.

As I mentioned in the first article, I have watched the TV show “Lost.” What I didn’t mention is when I watched it. It was sophomore year, Winter Quarter finals week, about two years ago. My roommate and I had decided to start the show about a week before, but didn’t get fully into it until finals. The bad: “Lost” is a show that ends on a ridiculous cliffhanger in every episode, and then Netflix queues up your next one before you can tell it to stop. The good: having a common denominator for a break with a roommate or friend can really help during finals. You can actually turn off the TV and set a specific time (hopefully not 30 minutes from then) to watch another.

Since you are watching the show together, you have a common reward to strive for. You know when you’ll be watching, so you know that you have to make the most out of the time in between. It’s something to look forward to but also something to motivate you because you won’t feel good about watching if you didn’t do anything in between. I said I didn’t recommend “Lost,” but as I reminisce on that finals week, it was a great show to have. It was the perfect reward for a good session of studying because of the cliffhangers. It was a show we could and basically had to talk about.

Mainly though, the fundamental problem of most study breaks is that you’re still thinking about studying while you’re eating or exercising or capture-the-flagging. This can really lower the stress-relieving qualities of the activity and not do the job a break should. “Lost” was perfect because it was imperative to pay attention to the whole episode to find out any hints at all about smoke monsters and The Others. It was a full off-switch from studying and it truly did a good job of relieving the stress.

So for this week only, I actually would recommend “Lost,” and recommend that you have some self-control. If this isn’t your thing, pick a show to watch NOT alone. Do it with someone else to create a system of checks and balances of actually setting times for both studying and watching, and sticking to it.

Aside from that, go to Trader Joe’s and cook a crazy dinner. It won’t take longer than an episode, and it will definitely help to distract you. Go to the gym more than you normally do, especially if you normally go zero times. Try to space out all of your classes instead of just studying for whichever one is coming up soonest. Getting stressed by one class and switching to study for a different one is the most productive study break in the world.

The most important tip I have during finals week is to look outside of the window. Spring is here already, whether Punxatauney Phil likes it or not. All that’s standing between you and the best quarter of the year is this week to come. Spring is an unreal time, especially at Davis, and that should be motivation enough to get through this week for Picnic Day to come.

The UCD Files is your weekly in depth look at our campus and the lifestyle that comes with it, featuring an occasional dropping of knowledge from a senior who has experienced it all.

Feel free to send questions, comments, hate mail, or anything you would like to see in future articles to Adam Marx at almarx@ucdavis.edu.

Graphic by CA Aggie Graphic Design Team.

Photo by CA Aggie Photo Team.

 

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