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Studying Abroad During Finals Week

As my sophomore year comes to a close, I think I’d be used to the chaos that is finals season. College students know that once the months of December or April hits, teachers load on hours upon hours of group projects, papers, and presentations for the dreaded finals week. This can be a lot for students, especially those who commute, those heavily involved in extracurriculars, and those who work.

I find it especially difficult for students who study abroad who typically spend their weekends in other countries. This applies to me. I’m lucky enough to have spent this semester at Suffolk’s Madrid campus, and fortunate enough to have planned a majority of my trips in April and early May. The past weekend I was in London. I’m currently on a plane to Dublin. Next weekend I’m heading to Barcelona, and in 2 weeks I’ll spend the first two days of May in Porto, Portugal.
You’re probably thinking to yourself “that doesn’t sound so bad!” However, it’s finals season. And that means it’s time to panic.

This semester I have a 10 page Macroeconomics paper and 10 minute accompanying presentation due Tuesday. I have a 5 page English paper due the 26th, and a 12 page Spanish paper due the 27th. And those are just my big assignments. On a regular schedule, I have readings due every English class, a chapter of Statistics homework every class with a quiz every Wednesday, and a small Spanish paper due every week. Finals week begins April 30th and lasts until the May 8th, and I lucked out with only 3 actual final exams, each on it’s own day.

Add all that into the fact that Thursday night through Sunday afternoon is unavailable to study because you’re spending your last weekends in Europe traveling, and you begin to understand just how chaotic studying abroad can be. The nice thing is is that I’m used to this sort of chaos. It’s honestly when I function best because I have no time to sit around and procrastinate; if I’m not doing schoolwork at every possible moment during the day, I’m falling behind.

Compared to my past semesters, it is pretty balanced in terms of workloads increasing as we enter the final stretch of the semester. Fall 2017 was probably my heaviest workload, including a paper and presentation for my Mad Men class and a 12 page Spanish film paper. I finished out that semester with two actual finals exams, but in all honesty it was still a very hectic and stressful time.

In most cases, the amount of work some professors put on us is unfair. For example, my Spanish class doesn’t have a final exam this semester, only a 12 page paper with a 10 minute accompanying presentation on the last day of classes. I believe this is a fair amount of work. My English and Economics class are also putting in the work with papers, presentations and a final exam, due on the same date. I find myself dedicating more time to other classes because one is tougher, causing me to fall behind on others.

Professors! Hear us out: If you’re going to give a final exam and a paper, don’t have the paper be more than 5, and have a simple presentation if need be. I want to give equal time to all my classes so I can succeed.

That being said, here are some tips I find helpful to power through the absolutely obnoxious amount of work heaped upon me during Finals Szn.

Make an Obnoxious Amount of Lists and Calendars

  • Nothing gets my blood going more than crossing something off a list or calendar. I’m a very visual person, so seeing the fact that I’ve completed something and shortened my list of responsibilities is always a prize worth receiving.

Finish the Small Stuff First

  • Even though it may seem counterproductive, finishing small homework assignments keeps your motivation up, since you feel more accomplished knowing you’re being productive in some sense.

TAKE A BREAK

  • The best way to rejuvenate yourself is to step away from what you’re doing and just relax. Journal, read, cook, watch an episode of your go-to Netflix show, just step away. It can get pretty overwhelming sometimes, so you need to know when to clear your head.

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