The campus during the day is quieter than usual. The library is full, but the Usdan Center is calm. Maybe it’s the brisk wind that’s dropped temperatures down again this week, but Foss Hill is not attracting the same number of students seeking sun and good company. It’s Finals Week at Wesleyan. Time to finish up those papers and study for those exams.
I remember well the pressures and pleasures of staying up all night writing, or looking for that one book or article that you imagine will clinch the argument you are trying to make. I remember friends heading into their science labs hoping to gather the data points necessary to complete experiments, and others who were consulting various oracles to take their best guess as to what Prof. X might ask on the notoriously difficult exam. If I close my eyes, I can still feel the thrill of turning to the last page of a paper I wrote to see the comments and the grade. I remember my excitement at learning that Prof. Abelove thought I might have something interesting to say about Freud. And I also remember a comment from a visiting philosopher – Michael Davis — suggesting that, if I were going to make the claim that Nietzsche was among the most important philosophers ever (a claim I was in no position to make after one philosophy course!), I ought to at least spell his name right. Ouch!
But mostly I remember the camaraderie of this time of year, when friends stood by you as you stressed out, or celebrated with you when you got things done. It always felt just a little sad to finish up the work of the semester since it often meant that we would all be heading off in different directions for the summer. This year, of course, there is the possibility of staying around to take summer classes; and for those not graduating there’s always the anticipation of returning to campus to find new challenges, and old friends, in the fall.