35 pages. That was my quota for completing all four final papers I had in lieu of exams — and one final project. In the span of about a week and a half, I managed to pump out each of these double-spaced works of analytical word vomit on time, a task that seemed insurmountable as I gazed at my finals due dates in late April. I wrote my first 10 and 13 page college papers, which, I’m aware, isn’t a ton in the grand scheme of humanities life, but for me, it’s a new benchmark. And that’s just the start.

Spring semester was a ton of work, no doubt. A crazy amount of reading, writing, applying, and Gilman-ing may or may not have been involved. This is nothing new to the everyday ebb and flow of the storied Hopkins workload, save for one component: everything I’ve done this semester was fueled by a very pure strain of interest that kept me going through page 30 (and beyond) of whatever longwinded intellectual essay I had to read for homework. While I’ve had my fair share of interesting courses at Hopkins, nothing compared to taking four classes that I truly loved and seeing the hard work actually pay off. Still, the only way to plow through the heft and breadth of a full semester and finals period in one piece is to have a few essential people, places and things to keep you going. Such as:

A Study Space In Which You Can Eat, Work, and Breathe (physically and metaphorically)

HI JHU_Quan!

In case you couldn’t glean this from my blog name and myriad entries, Gilman is my place, my niche, the place I lay my overstuffed backpack and do it to it. This finals period, however, it was also my saving grace over any other study space on campus for a slew of reasons, including but not limited to: You can actually eat in the quiet reading room and not risk the awkward punishment of having a security guard whisper for you to take your egg and cheese sandwich into the cafe (@BRODY!). There’s a calming fluidity between the silent, stained glass-lit workspace of the Hutzler Reading Room and the airy slice of heaven that is the atrium, for when you need a coffee/socializing break. It’s open all night during finals — one of the many reasons I was able to get my mammoth of an essay on Mona Hatoum’s Variations on Discord and Divisions done in time. Gilman was my rock, the place I knew I could sit and simply be in the presence of many a pal, bound by focus and very different but equally strenuous finals loads (as well as friendship). In the photo above, JHU_Quan and my friend Hana take advantage of the first Gilman delight I mentioned by indulging in chicken tenders and curly fries in the broad daylight of one of the quietest spaces on campus — no scoldings over here!

A Quick Outing That Gets You Off Campus And Reminds You Of The Vibrancy Of Life — Preferably Cheap

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We’ve said it once and we’ll say it again: JHU_Emily and I strongly endorse Baltimore’s art scene as an easy, fun, free and visually stimulating way to release some of the finals blues for a bit before returning to the tasks at hand: studying, writing, etc. A few weeks ago, the two of us, along with HI celeb JHU_Joseph and co, went to The Contemporary’s latest show, a welcome study break in the days leading up to finals period. The entire trip took about an hour and a half, and I was back on campus researching for the aforementioned essay before I knew it. Baltimore is the city of easily accessible and highly entertaining excursions, among other attributes, and I wouldn’t want to escape from finals stress anywhere else. IMG_0558

Of course, getting off campus and fulfilling academic responsibilities aren’t mutually exclusive concepts. Case in point: my good friend and computer music genius Francesca D’Uva enjoying the spoils a few dollars and some free public transport can bring: coffee, pastry, a rustic ambiance, and finals productivity, all within a 15 minute radius of campus. This is the stuff of dreams and of finals survival.

Last, but not least, a solid village of humans to accompany you in and out of the trenches

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At last, we’ve come to the cheesy bit! The amount of times I’ve counted on these people (along with several unnamed but equally important others!) to accompany me in Gilman burning the midnight oil and eating the midnight junk food over the course of the last few weeks — let alone the semester — is probably somewhere around 40. From Throat Culture to SAAB to strange classes about tasting food purely through smell, I’ve found a group of wonderful specimens here who are as down to sing Toni Braxton karaoke at a local club as they are to sit in The Hut for the entire day afterwards. I’m endlessly thankful to said people for being down for just about anything and everything it takes to survive the demands of both work and play that college entails. 35 pages later and just a few months before I start my junior year in London, I’m happy to say that I’ll have everything I need to get through countless more pages, finals periods and general tomfoolery right here at Hopkins. And that’s a great thing to feel.