If there is anything that more accurately captures the spirit of Dickens’ most famous first sentence from A Tale of Two Cities you know, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” for my days as a student, it was finals week. However, I cannot recall it all since I am just shy of being 20 years removed from my first finals week as a Gannon freshman.
Thinking back, the two things about that experience that I am the most surprised about are how much time has elapsed from December 1996 (can I really be that old already?) and how vivid those memories are from that time.
There was that time in Wehrle Hall where my roommate and I spent several hundred dollars competing in a Christmas dorm decorating contest where first prize was only $50.
It was a spirited competition with our nemesis being three doors down.
In the end we won the competition but the true loser was the Wehrle electrical grid — she just could not manage the load between the two overly festive rooms. We caused a power outage that blacked out half of Wehrle.
I can also recall some of the much more mundane details such as the realization that my diligence throughout the semester might have been less than stellar and that I had a week, maybe two, to make up for it before the exam.
This led to a few simple time calculations and the realization that I could catch up, but certain non-essential parts of my schedule had to be eliminated, like sleep.
After the third straight day of consciousness I went forth in a desperate search for caffeine. Somehow I managed to fall into a display of pasta sauce at Wegmans. To this day the words “clean up in aisle 9” make me hungry for rigatoni.
I can also remember the eagerness to go home
and visit my high school friends and family. That sense of missing good friends was not surprising, but what was surprising to me was that after about a week of break I was becoming eager to get back to Gannon.
It is true that I had no idea what it meant to be in Erie during the wintry months of January and February, but it would not have mattered because I missed my new friends, I missed my new home.
So, as you head into finals week I wish you all luck and I can only hope you enter into the week more prepared than I was.
I also wish you all a Merry Christmas as you head back to your homes, and I wish that you all look forward with eagerness to January, when you can come back to your new homes.
As someone who has been through it before and somehow made it out in one piece, I hope that you can find time to enjoy this time of year and make some new memories that you can recall fondly 20 years after the fact.