My Top Four Finals Week Breakdowns

Finals can be really stressful, especially after having gone to a high school that valued “learning by doing” rather than sitting down and taking an exam. When I came to UC Davis, I essentially had to learn how to study for a written exam. As my first finals week rolled around, I began to understand why my high school did not necessarily endorse a week of written exams ─ the stress was piling onto me and I was struggling to keep up with my self-prescribed study plan.

My stress manifested (and still manifests) in some strange outbursts, which I later realized were due to the pressure I was putting on myself to know every single thing in every single class for fear that it would appear on an exam. I thought that sharing these odd outbursts could provide a weird kind of support as everyone goes into finals study mode.

1. Crying in Rite Aid

This was during my first finals week at UC Davis. It was fall quarter, and a sad freshman Madison was sitting in the laundry room, perusing a study guide when a realization hit her: she still hadn’t bought toothpaste, and she was fresh out. For some reason, toothpaste was an essential good, a need, at 11:30 PM the night before an exam. Upon entering the Rite Aid, crisp $5 bill in hand, I realized that the cheapest toothpaste on the shelf cost $7. I may have sat down on the floor. I may have cried. Let’s move on.

2. Sweatshirt

Once I got home from Rite Aid (yes, this is the same night) it was time for me to switch my clothes from the washer to the dryer. That was fine, until I noticed a dark, evil patch on my new gray sweatshirt that my brother had given me for my birthday. When I left for Davis, I took one item of clothing from each of my family members ─ I thought my little brother’s hoodie would suit my college life well. However, he was upset that I took his hoodie, and instead bought me an exact replica so we were matching. I was so excited. However, earlier that day when I was studying I forgot that I had left a pen in the front hoodie pocket which subsequently leaked black ink all over the front of the hoodie. I decided to sit in the sink in the laundry room (another somewhat public place) and attempted to hand wash the ink stain from this sweatshirt with blisteringly cold water. Needless to say, it did not work out.

3. Tupperware

I currently live in a house with four other college womxn, all of whom use the house’s extensive tupperware collection. The tupperware cabinet is notorious for its tendency to explode on whoever opens it. No matter how the last person stacks and sorts the plastic containers, they always stay true to their brand by tumbling down onto faces and into the sink. This happened to me one too many times during fall quarter of my sophomore year, and I decided to empty the entire cabinet and attempt to match each container with its lid. I found that, lo and behold, there were quite a few containers that we did not use or had never seen before. These subjects had to be eliminated.

I began a “giveaway bag” filled with crusty, misshapen, plastic atrocities that had dwelled in the cabinets for years before my housemates and I moved in. When I attempted to discard the tiny tupperwares, the ones meant to fit what, three grapes, one of my housemates decided to pipe up and defend the miniscule monstrosities. “They’re good for sauces!” she exclaimed. I wouldn’t hear it, since not once had I seen them in the drying rack or sink, meaning that NO ONE had used them. The aforementioned “giveaway bag” then started to fill with other nonessential items we had stored away, such as pots and pans that were duplicates or odd shapes and sizes. I may have gone through every cabinet and drawer, but by the end of the hour our kitchen had way more storage space, and by the next day Goodwill had some new merchandise.

4. Swiffering the Ceiling

OK, so at this point you may have noticed a cleaning theme. Yes, tidying my surroundings gives me a sense of order, and cleaning the external helps me calm the internal. I share a bathroom with two other girls and in the winter when it's cold out, we tend to keep our bathroom window closed. However, when we take hot showers (especially when all three of us shower consecutively) the steam can gather and soak our walls, leading to a minor mold problem. My housemates and I put off dealing with the mold for a while, but this past week when my ECN 100A midterm rolled around I decided to take a leap of faith and Swiffer the ceiling. My fervent motions and my stress combined to an hour-long effort that led to most of the mold disappearing. This also led to some pretty significant tricep pain (maybe it was a workout in disguise).

My point in telling all of this mayhem is the following: no matter how stress manifests, let it happen. Sometimes I just needed to feel those feelings by means of intense organization or mold removal. Finals are tough, but they are temporary (and I still don’t quite believe that one written test demonstrates one’s knowledge on an entire subject). Take a deep breath, and tidy away!