Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Sometimes The Light At The End Of The Tunnel Is A 1,500 Word Paper Strapped To A Flashlight

With the first semester drawing ever nearer to Finals (a.k.a. Hell Week), I've had time to reflect upon my first four months of Covenant life. ...not very much time, I'm afraid, but enough to analyze my observations and put them into my dear little blog.

The daily routine up at Covenant is more along the lines of a weekly routine; ask any student what their near-future plans are like, and they'll probably say something like: "Mondays, Wednesdays, and Fridays I do this, Tuesdays and Thursdays I do this, and weekends I do a whole lot of this!" The days go by like the twenty-four hours they are, but the accepted unit of time up here seems to be "weeks", seeing as how anyone will voluntarily unload their week's schedule to you if they are stressed enough. However, this is only true when we are not eagerly awaiting -or doggedly struggling towards- an upcoming break. Then we bring back "days" so we can count down how long we have until we can sleep the sweet, sweet slumber of the academically dead; the kind of sleep that comes to those who are not worrying about tests, papers, grades, or even getting up in time for morning classes.

(If that rant didn't make any sense, just blame it on my 3,785 minutes of accumulated sleep deprivation.)

Everyone is crazy during the week. Classes keep the students running around from one building to the next, and some are calmer than the others -- I can be stressing and wailing about a next-day test for which I've already studied my brains out, but some of the more seasoned individuals study in silence with iron expressions only worn by those in utmost concentration. I don't know how they do it, but somehow the distractions of the hall don't seem to faze them.

With all the studying that goes on, much to my surprise there are still more daily antics than we know what to do with. I would have thought that college life would drain any regular human being of his very life force and leave him a dry, withered heap in mid-crawl to his Xbox. But college kids... we're an interesting bunch of individuals. Where others would buckle under the stress and suffer nervous breakdowns, college kids thrive by feeding off of the stress like it's a bag of chocolate-covered coffee beans. It does... things... to our brains... Some of the stronger make it to Finals before some of the stress leaks out; others are not so fortunate. They succumb to the infectious symptoms of insanity and start to let it out by performing random antics in public, and always where you least expect it: for instance, a guy in my Psych class came in one day wearing a superhero cape in mid-September. Other people spontaneously act out in the middle of the Great Hall (I swear, it's only a matter of time until someone re-enacts La Vie Boheme in there!). Just a month ago, a friend of mine wheeled a suitcase into the Great Hall, pulled it over to a table, and unzipped it so his hallmate could climb out and go swipe his card at the register. Yes, Covenant students are nothing if not creative.

If the days and weeks go by like this, I can only imagine what years of exposure could do to the upperclassman brain. But I guess I shouldn't assume that everyone reacts to stress in the same way as the suitcase guy... actually, lately I have begun to notice certain adaptive traits in the upperclassmen that we "poor wee freshies" have yet to develop. When someone screams in the Great Hall, only the Freshmen look to see what's going on. When a hall hangs a banner from the chapel roof, only the Freshmen seem impressed. When it's Veal Fritter Day in the Great Hall, only Freshmen have included the meaty monstrosity as a part of their balanced meal. If someone is wandering around the administrative part of Carter with a hopelessly lost look in his eyes, or someone is complaining about the "bathroom problem" and she lives in Mac... well, you get the idea.

(Wow. I just noticed how long a list of "You Know They're a Covenant Freshman When..." I could write. Shiny!)

My point is, it seems that the semesterly (is that a word?) stressors are likely to bring out peoples' "true" natures; but whether that nature includes dancing on tables, becoming a hoveling mass of tears, or adapting for survival and moving on is different for each student.

Hey, I think I just found a topic I can use for my SIP in three-and-a-half years...

11 comments:

Caroline said...

You know this idea could lead to all sorts of faulty logic? Exempli gratia: since
a) college affects brain chemistry, and
b) I am not in college,
we would assume that
c) I am, therefore, wholly sane.

In the words of Dr. Gregory House, "When you ASSume..."

Elizabeth said...

I embrace my logic (or lack thereof)! *runs off cackling madly*

Of course, you realize that my theory also makes most if not all of Covenant certifiably insane. My Psych professor keeps saying that, if he hired someone from a mental institution to follow any given student for a week, anyone on campus could be diagnosed with some sort of "mental illness".

Maybe I should've said "It does things to our minds", since (as far as I've discovered) college has nothing to do with brain chemistry.

Crazy? I was crazy once... they made me wear a white jacket and they locked me in a room with a bunch of rats... I hate rats... rats make me crazy... Crazy? I was crazy once...

Jobber said...

Pardon me for disbelieving, but my internal calculator just ate your 3785 minutes and spat out the daunting figure "65 1/12 hours." When you say accumulated, you mean not all in a row, I hope? Because, well, that would be an awfully long time to stay up. Almost enough to make you legally insane, I think.
And if you have any qualms about my internal calculator, just mention the word "kilogram" to Caroline and see what happens.
Another thing about Freshmen, they always talk about themselves. Give them an intruiging article on college life or something, and they'll somehow bring the topic around to their own ideas and skills. It's disgusting! I do it all the time.

Caroline said...

Funny that you would mention that 3785 minutes is 65.5 hours. For one thing, Joben's internal calculator is broken. Really, though, the human body has a maximum sleep deficit of about a day, and even if you were to take an entire weekend to catch up on your sleep, you'd never be able to sleep more than about sixteen hours.

Jobber said...

The first '5' was a typo. I meant 63 and 1/12.
Ben Slade did a 62 hour sleep deprivation study a few weeks ago. Fun times.

Elizabeth said...

Yup. 63 hours. I told you college students were certifiable!

...okay, no, it's not from all at once -- that's just how much sleep I've lost over the span of this semester (nine hours being an "optimal" night). What's really amusing is that there are people who are in the 5000-minute range, and it's not even Finals yet!

Jobber said...

You know they're a Covenant freshman when their idea of fun on weekends is moving a grandfather clock across campus and up elevators, telling people that "it's time."

Caroline said...

Ben Slade--Annie's boyfriend, right?

Jobber said...

Indeed.

Caroline said...

Well then. Glad I'm not a Covenant student.

Elizabeth said...

Update: my sleep deprivation, at last count, was 4,085 minutes ^^a Last updated sometime in November...ish...