For the most part, my midterms are staggered. Every week is a hearty balance of a couple response papers, some readings, and the occasional exam. And that’s all very good for when they’re out of phase with each other like that. But every once in a while, everything syncs. Worlds collide. And suddenly you find yourself staring down one of those midterm-laden hard-hitting weeks. I guess last week up till today was one of those.
It started with a Nervous System quiz last Tuesday. I know its just a quiz, but any of the material in the notes seemed to be fair game, so it cost me a lot of time in the library buckled down in a cubicle reading about the responsiveness of the auditory system. That quiz went fine; I answered my five questions, turned in the paper, and continued on with our lecture.
Thursday, however, was orgo. An entirely different game. This would be the first midterm of the set, and one I really wasn’t too thrilled about. To be fair, it went over a lot of the things I’d learned last year in Applied Chem, but there’s something inherently terrifying about any hard science course; maybe its the no-nonsense nature of it all. If you don’t know what to do, you can’t just talk your way out of it. The night before Thursday saw my friends and I huddled around notes and sharing problems. My friend and I headed to a TA help session to go over some issues we had, and then we headed back to our suite to project practice tests on our TV as we went through the solutions one last time with some other friends. I’ve come to realize the way I study best: go over the fundamentals on my own on one of the quieter levels of the library (I’m a C-level kinda guy personally) and then surface at Brody and discuss with friends.
The test itself was okay! In hindsight, I’m really thankful for the small quizzes we have every Thursday in orgo. I never appreciated them before, but I realized how much they forced me to pace myself and stay with with the material every week. I finished the test, and we headed back to our suite to watch TV. But not before stopping by CharMar to grab a celebratory post-orgo crepe. This one’s called the Nutty Blue Jay on a vegan crepe. It’s made with nutella, bananas, blueberries, strawberries, peanuts, and friendship.
But I couldn’t exactly fully unwind yet either. In focusing all of my time on Nervous System and Orgo, I’d completely neglected my midterm for a history class I’m taking called Scientific Revolution. And it was tomorrow. So after a small Netflix burst to ward off any organic chemical residues, I hit the cubicles again to go through all of my notes for the class. Honestly, history classes are the most fun to study for. You just cycle through your past notes and let a story unfold before you. It isn’t until the tests that you really stitch together all of the lectures you’ve been hearing and get a broad, cohesive picture of the trends and movements. Plus, we got extra credit points if we wrote a limerick about a concept we learned in class. I will not reproduce said limerick here due to its being strikingly cheesy, but it was about Kepler.
That test went well too! We only had to answer 6 of the 10 questions, which was incredible. But my week still technically wasn’t over. On Tuesday, I had my Nervous System midterm. To be honest, this was probably the most material I’ve ever had to cover for an exam in my life. The notes spanned over a hundred pages, with each sentence contributing more testable material. At first, I thought it would be absolutely impossible. But slowly, bit-by-bit, I started to draw out connections in the auditory system and try to understand the bigger picture to contextualize and process the material I was learning. At one point, my friend and I took over a room in Brody and just mapped out the entire auditory system. It was oddly satisfying.
The test itself was at 1:30 this morning. So I could wake up early and get a lot of studying done. But I opted for the thing where you sleep in until 11, take your time in the shower, and happily float over to Remsen Hall to take the exam. I’ve learned that – at least for me – enough sleep is WAY more important than a few extra facts. It cuts my careless errors and lets me be creative enough to draw out ties and find the answer.
And now here I am. My neuro midterm is done, my orgo midterm is done, and my history midterm is done. The nice thing about colliding tests is that its followed by a colliding rest week where none of them test. So I’m at that nice place where I can slowly learn while leaning heavily on Youtube.
Anyways, this week taught me a lot about myself and my relation to the school. It’s pushed me harder than I’ve pushed myself in a while. And in doing so, it taught me about capabilities I had no idea I had. It taught me patience in studying and the value in resting. It taught me how to learn and how to process and how to pace. And I’m eternally grateful to the amount that Hopkins has had my back throughout the whole thing. From TA review sessions to PILOT sessions to office hours with processors down to the whiteboards in Brody, its nice to know that every inch of the space I live in wants me to succeed.