Spring Already!

The decorations for our room's door all winter - the only snow that we saw this year.

I do believe that spring has officially come to Erskine.  Many of us, myself included, have been disappointed that we did not have a “real” winter this year, in that it never really got cold for any considerable amount of time, and, more importantly, it never snowed!  Every winter since my freshman year we have had snow, and each year it was considerable enough to cancel classes for at least a day.  We got close a couple of times this year, but we were always disappointed by just another cold, rainy day through which we trudged to class as usual.  The only snow that we have seen is the paper snowflakes that my roommate and I made to decorate our door for Christmas. . . which turned into general winter decorations, taken down only yesterday.

However, yesterday students seemed anything but disappointed with the warm weather.  There were many students outside, enjoying the warm, sunny day of 78 degrees.  Jackets seemed suddenly abandoned for shorts, sandals, and t-shirts, and windows were thrown open around the dorm to enjoy the breeze and console those inside with a taste of the gorgeous day outside.  Today is warm and rainy, a proper spring day, and as I walked around to classes this morning I noticed blooming flowers starting to open up, the grass turning a healthy green again, and how warm the breeze was.  I think students, despite their inherent stress, especially over the impending midterms, seem to be generally more positive, because who can stay in a bad mood with such nice weather outside?

The Beginning of the End

Tomorrow I move back into Erskine for my last semester of undergraduate college, and I’m surprised to say that it really doesn’t feel any different.  I’m not sure what I expected – perhaps some great anticipation or a growing sense of the nearing end – but it really just feels like another semester.  So, after a semi-productive break (because it wouldn’t be a vacation if you did everything that you were supposed to), it’s time to pack up and organize a little before everything gets too busy.  So, there is the usual, inevitable checklist:

Get the weekly schedule together.  I actually make a document on my computer for this, which might seem a bit unnecessary, but is unbelievably helpful.  I start with my classes then add everything that I know is permanent on my schedule, such as my SI class, weekly meetings, and rehearsals.  The main point of this is to know where I am going, when I am going, which days are going to be busier, etc. and to start planning accordingly.

Do a little long-term planning.  This mostly involves looking through syllabi and schedules, and writing all the important dates in the calendar.  I think that this is one of the most useful things that I do, along with the weekly schedule, because it allows me to take a broad look over the semester, and know what is coming.  For example, if you have two tests, one paper, and a concert on the same day – that’s something that is good to know ahead of time!

Clean the dorm room.  Ah, yes, the dreaded desk overhaul.  Although I consider myself to be more neat than messy, even the most organized student gets those pesky little piles of accumulation and cast-off drawers that seem to pop up during the semester.  It is nice to clear your mind and your living space a little before the piles creep in again.

Stock the shelves and refrigerator.  Of course!  How else can a college student make it through a semester of late-night studying, waking up too late for breakfast, or needing a little something more than the dining hall?  Food is an essential.

Try to get ahead while you can.  I always try to take advantage of the relatively free schedule that I have at the beginning of the semester to get a little ahead on my schoolwork.  This comes in handy within just a few weeks, as time starts to get scarcer and work more heavy.

Enjoy the free time!  Ah, the beginning of the semester is a rare time, when you can read a little for fun, hang out with friends, or maybe even – dare I say it? – take a nap.  Because for at least the first few days, you actually remember the meaning of the phrase, “free time.”

Hope all that is not too boring, but that’s what is going on right now.  There is something nice about the beginning of a semester – that chance to start almost everything over again.  Although this may be my last beginning at Erskine, I’m excited to start towards the end, and to enjoy my final semester as much as I have enjoyed the previous ones. 

Keeping Perspective

“Perspective is a lovely hand to hold.”  I have a good friend who quotes these Reliant K lyrics frequently, and the phrase comes to mind when I think of many of the events of the past week.

The end of the school year gets a little crazier every year, because everything seems to pile up as time runs out to squeeze it all in – from concerts to exams, end of the year banquets, electing organization officers for the next year, packing to move out, and trying to fit in some time to spend with friends before leaving for the summer.  With everything going on, of course it is easy to get frustrated, overwhelmed, or just burned out, so keeping a positive perspective is absolutely necessary to finish the year in one piece.  Luckily, every year I am pleasantly reminded of how much prayer helps me keep myself sane, and everything always finishes out well.

Another thing that can be difficult to deal with at the end of the year is all the changes.  Transitioning to a new year of school means that all the seniors you have grown to be friends with will move on to new things and that a different class of freshmen will come in the fall.  There are sometimes changes in professors, you will have to adjust to a new schedule, perhaps a new roommate, probably a new room, and most likely more responsibilities when the fall comes.  And, of course, there are those who are just looking forward to summer and a break from schoolwork. . . which describes most college students.

The end of the year really hit me in the past week, realizing so many of my friends will not be moving back in the fall, that my class will be the oldest students on campus, in charge of so many organizations and events, and that it will be our last year at Erskine.  Senior year – this is exciting and intimidating at the same time.  However, I am trying to remember that even though I will miss my graduating friends, and next year will be different, I do still have an entire last year to enjoy Erskine, and I’m sure that it will be as full and wonderful as my first three have been.

My end of the year perspective: being thankful for what will come as much as what has been.