Friday, December 14, 2007

The "Finals" Countdown

One of the nice things about being a graduate student is that you are insulated from just about everything. I don't exactly have to "go to work" or "get up on time", and I don't really have to "talk to people" or "know what's going on in the world" if I don't feel like it. And what's funny is I've been in school for so long that there really aren't any classes left for me to take. Or maybe I should say that the classes just aren't really worth my time anymore (oh academic snobbery, how I love thee).

But as each quarter draws to a close I am reminded that there are actually students at the university that take classes. They come out of the woodwork to take their final exams, and it is in this funny week we call "finals week" that some truly strange behavior can be observed. As you might imagine the students are often times either stressed, or sleep deprived, or anxious, or even sometimes just downright depressed. And when the students travel in packs you'll notice some resemblance to zombies, where they seem unconscious but slowly drawn (as if sleep walking) to coffee carts and lecture halls.

But what truly makes the finals week interesting is that the same pre-finals zombie students that entered the lecture hall exit in a euphoric, energetic mood. Right outside of the classroom they'll be in small herds very loudly cheering or stating things like "Oh, #4 was easy!" or "Man I'm so glad I'm done!". Or you can see them on their bikes swerving dangerously from side to side while talking on their Motorola RAZR saying "Yeah Mom, I think I, like, passed chem this time!". But yesterday I experienced something new. While walking past the chem building I saw and heard a guy leaving his final on his 10-speed bike playing a harmonica. It was an upbeat tune (not too bluesy) which I'm sure meant he was all done, and he was kinda dancing and swaying with the music while playing the harmonica enthusiastically with both hands (none left to steer the bike, i.e. "Look Mom, no hands!"). I got a chuckle out of the scene, and was left with all kinds of questions in my head like: did he specifically pack a harmonica for his last final so he could play his victory march home? Or does he always play while biking? Maybe he awoke from the zombie trance and noticed the harmonica in his pocket and thought, "well that's convenient." Does finals in fact make a person crazy, or do crazy people take finals? Either way, I think that guy will be happy in graduate school.