First-Year Column: End-of-Semester Challenge

Sometimes when I’m just feeling a lot of emotion, I need to pour it out in song:

You better watch out, you better not cry,

Better not shout, I’m telling you why,

Finals are coming to Claremont.

Your professors are making a list,

They’re checking it twice,

Gonna find out who’s naughty or nice

Finals are coming to Claremont.

They know when you’ve been sleeping,

They know when you’re awake (in class)

They know if you’ve been partying or studying

So party for goodness sake!

Honestly, this holiday season is a bit bittersweet for me. On one hand, we’ve got this little thing called finals, except I should really be calling it “final” because I only have one (casually rubbing it in). But the real reason I’m bitter is the end of first semester!

As a friend put it, “Life is all just a giant fraction.” Think about it: We first-years are already 1/8 done with our college life, which means we only have 7/8 the amount of irresponsibility left to us! Then we need to figure out how to file a tax form, something that I will happily remain in ignorance about for the rest of my life if I can have my druthers.

Also, I love the time before the holidays—before they’re over, I mean. The beginning of December is wonderful, because the whole holiday season lies before us. The past couple weeks I’ve lived in a haze of cinnamon apple scent, a symphony of Christmas music and a whirl of paper snowflake-making. I’m just lucky no one has hung up any mistletoe yet, because avoiding sponcest could get a whole lot more difficult.

On the flip side, I can’t deny that I’m looking forward to going home. People seem to enjoy mocking my East Coast love for snow, but it’s hard not to see the beauty in a white Christmas or waking up in the middle of the night to see the snow falling softly outside, lit by the orange glow of street lamps. I long for the cold this year in a way I never have before. The only thing I fear about returning home is stepping out of the airport in my flip-flops to realize that California has forever ruined seasons for me.

Ignoring the terror that my homeland and I might be over when I return, I have to say that I can’t wait to snuggle with my cat and sleep on a bed that doesn’t squeak like a door in a horror movie every time I turn. I can’t wait to hug my parents for the first time in four months, though I could definitely wait to see how much taller than I my brothers have grown. There are friends to catch up with, college stories to share and lots of holiday traditions to continue.

The thing I’m most excited about, though, is the prospect of doing nothing. It’s been a while since I’ve just had time to kill—time that belonged solely to me that I could squander at my own discretion.

This is my last column until the next year, so I feel like I need to leave you with something more real than a desire to emulate my incredible song-making ability. In the holiday spirit, here’s my challenge for y’all:

In the last two weeks of this semester…

1. Prank at least one person on your hall. I’d suggest a couple, but then you’d know it was me when I get you good.

2. Every meal for one day, sit down at a table with people you don’t know well. After our first semester ends, we’re not going to be able to pull this off as easily, so take advantage of it while you can. At the very least, you’ll have made a couple more Facebook friends.

3. Write someone a letter. It’s a great chance for reflection on your first 1/8 of college life. Plus, you’ll make your yoga teacher really proud. Maybe even convince her that with all the extra introspection you’ve been doing, you really deserve a half-credit rather than a quarter.

4. Apologize to someone or begin a conversation with someone you haven’t talked to in a while. What better way to enter the holiday than with a rekindled friendship? Put yourself out there, and you won’t regret it. If anything, it’ll almost certainly make your holiday season all the more bright and happy.

5. Hug someone you have never made bodily contact with. Now this one will be particularly hard for me, because I’ve developed a strange habit over the past few months of pattingeveryone on the shoulder. But assuming you haven’t been too promiscuous with your shoulder pats, this could be a pretty easy way to snuggle for warmth because, truth be told, it’s getting chilly here. I really don’t think I’m going to survive returning home.

Happy holidays to all, and to all a good night!

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