988 words. Originally published December 15, 2011, in The Daily Princetonian.
The puns are endless: 1 percent of the school year contains 99 percent of the stress. #OccupyFristPiano: 1 percent of the students makes 99 percent of the noise. F.I.N.A.L.S.: Fuck, I Never Actually Learned this Shit.
Finals are a stressful time for students everywhere, but we here at Princeton have the dubious honor of what is, in effect, a month-and-a-half-long finals period, from the end of classes in mid-December through winter break, reading period and the flaming doomsday hellfire that is Dean’s Date all the way to the end of finals and the start of Intersession at the beginning of February.
In many ways, it’s a unifying experience: Whether a freshman or senior, A.B. or B.S.E., ORFE or English, we all must quickly learn how to put our noses to the grindstone and attempt to escape with our grade point averages and dignity intact.
It’s a dark path we’re about to embark upon: Surprise problem sets lurk at every turn, Dean’s Date (and associated extracurricular events) sap at your energy, Red Bull erodes your teeth and fingernails, friendships are ruined, blood is shed.
To that end, here’s a set of tips and tricks I picked up last year on how to survive the journey we’re all about to take. Rest well while you can, little ones — eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we will be in the library.
Your winter break can go one of two ways: Either you can show up to that New Year’s Eve ragefest in the attic of your high school boyfriend’s garage at which you look skinnier than all your old frenemies (thanks, Butler/Wilson salad bar), remind yourself what good drinks taste like and make out with your BFF in front of all your old hookups when the clock strikes midnight — or you can get your reading done. It’s either/or. Don’t even fool yourself into thinking you and your high school crew can sit in the Starbucks where you had your first sip of coffee and actually accomplish something. You’ll spend half your time with your friends pondering out loud how things have changed and the other half with your family gnashing your teeth when your father mentions curfews. So take your orgo book out of your suitcase, and pack those boots that make your ass look great. God gave us reading period so you could spend all of break baking things with your mother and moaning about how being home is putting you off of your gym routine — it would just be silly to do your work or, y’know, actually develop a gym routine.
Do not — I repeat, do NOT — sleep in a library. I don’t care if it’s snowing outside and you don’t have boots, or if you got a Golden Snitch Snuggie for Christmas and just want to show it off (jealous). I don’t care if you’ve found the perfect carrel and are planning to move in, paint the walls your favorite shade of eggshell and grow old together. I don’t even care if you’ve built a nest for yourself on the blue couches in J Street. Those couches look like the insides of a Smurf. You’re about to nap on Smurf intestines.
Sleeping in a library is dangerous for several reasons: First and foremost, a library is not a safe place. I don’t just mean physically, although it’s definitely true that people will steal your things (to the bitch who stole my red hat from Wu library last year two nights before Dean’s Date: I’m coming for you). You and your dignity are not safe in a library. If you’re Asian, you will end up on AsiansSleepingInTheLibrary. Your shirt will ride up above your boobs (I can’t be the only person this happens to). Your semester-long crush will walk in just as you roll over into a puddle of your own drool. The only people who look good when they’re sleeping are vampires, because they’re just fooling us, and Sleeping Beauties, because they’re fictional.
Second, libraries are — in theory — silent, which means all the people pulling real all-nighters will hear every sound you make through the thrum of caffeine in their veins. I don’t just mean snoring, which, though annoying, is socially acceptable. It’s a scientific fact that you fart more in your sleep (I mean, just boys though, because girls obviously never fart). It’s also a universally accepted truth that the things you hear your roommate say in his or her sleep are secrets to be taken to the grave (or, alternatively, to PrincetonFML). And, horror upon horrors, what happens if you have a wet dream in the middle of Wu library?
Biggest #firstworldproblem of all time: having to schedule your studying around all the free food events that happen the night of Dean’s Date. Last year, there was Chick-fil-A at midnight in Campus Club, pizza, chips and dip in Frist Campus Center, a study break thrown by my residential college adviser and coffee literally everywhere. Watch out for massive, conveniently timed sales on Red Bull, Monster and 5-Hour Energy at the U-store, the C-store and Studio 34.
The scariest moment of my Princeton career so far might’ve been when I woke up alone in the basement of East Pyne on the couches at the end of the hall leading to Chancellor Green. The lights were all off, it was so silent that I wasn’t even sure if I was breathing and I was about 87 percent sure I was going to get murdered. The lights in that hallway are motion-activated — too bad I was literally too scared to move. Friends don’t let friends write papers in East Pyne alone.