It’s that time of the semester again. It’s exam season.
University students are buckling down and pushing themselves to the finish line of this absurd semester. The anticipation of the winter break feels different this year. We entered into this semester coming from four full months of absolute nothingness. Maybe we had a part-time job this past summer or maybe we saw friends once in a while, but overall, our 2020 spring and summer was full of time. Time spent waiting for some other horrible thing to happen. Time spent worrying about those closest to us. Time spent distracting ourselves with any type of thing that brought us some sense of ease.
Then the semester hit. We rolled up our sleeves, kissed our wonderful coping mechanisms goodbye, and attempted to centre our minds in this strange half vacation, half school purgatory. At the same time we juggled mass amounts of weekly work– readings, quizzes, activities, reflections, assignments, extracurriculars– which seemed to be an overcompensation for our lack of in-person connection.
Now, the semester unlike any other it is about to be over. This is an accomplishment.
BUT… It’s not over yet. We must first go through the grueling process of final exams. The light that is winter break is just becoming visible. However, that light can only be reached by temporarily turning away from it and remaining sheltered in our academic caves where time seems to be a rapidly declining resource.
But we aren’t alone in there. There’s another resource, a companion, that sticks by our side and is witness to every desperate moment as the semester comes to a close. It endures our stressful grip. It motivates and inspires thoughtful note-taking. It waits patiently while we extend our study breaks from five minutes to 10 minutes to 15 minutes and so on.
I am talking about the perfect exam pen.
The beauty of the perfect exam pen is that it isn’t limited to just one kind. Maybe it is a family of pens you got during that shopping spree at Muji. Maybe this pen is the one you stole from that hotel that time you went to Niagara Falls for the weekend. Maybe this pen was a gift, presented in a professional case with your initials engraved in the side. Maybe it’s just a Dollar Store pen. It doesn’t matter what kind of pen it is. The relationship between the student and the perfect exam pen is exclusive and sacred.
Flashforward. It’s the day that you must study. Final assignments are slowing down and you finally have the space to concentrate on that exam that’s been sitting at the back of your mind. But… oh no! You take one look at your class notes on your computer with your empty notebook beside it and a familiar dreadful sensation creeps up to tap you on the shoulder.
“You don’t want to study.” It says.
But you have to. Your forehead hits your palms and you take a final moment of procrastination, willing yourself forward. You look up and there it is resting peacefully on your desk. You take your perfect exam pen and a rush of sheer determination flows through your hand, up your arm and into your brain. You start writing. The pen does its job as usual. It writes across the paper so smoothly it feels like butter. The smudgeless letters look like they could have been created by a professional calligrapher. Your brain is in full intellectual spasm but the pen reminds you that you are not alone. That you will get through it. That you are fortunate and privileged to be getting a higher education. That your peers are also insulated and isolated in their studying fortresses. You realize that studying isn’t that bad and-
Oh! It’s been 45 minutes.
Well… cheers to you, perfect exam pen. I’ll see you in another 45.