In anticipation of Advent

By  Michael De Jong, Youth Speak News
  • December 18, 2006

The plight of the university student during the holidays is a strange one. The timing of the exam period seems almost like a conspiracy as far as important times in the Catholic Church. While others celebrate Advent, anticipating the coming of Christ's birth, students hunker down and crack their textbooks open, some, like myself, for the first time since September for a furious and grueling month of studying for the necessary evil of end-of-term exams.

If I can speak from experience, December sucks for the university student. Sure, this time of year is hectic for everyone, with gifts to be bought and season's greetings to be given, but university students face a much different sort of mayhem. Whether it means saying goodbye to friends until January or writing an exam three days before Christmas, the holiday season can be terribly taxing.

Even if you live in town, chances are most of your friends aren't going to be around during Christmas, as they were in high school. In my own case, some friends won't even be on the same continent as I am when the best day of the year comes. Naturally, while I wish them well in their travels and maybe envy their leaving the bone-chilling cold of the Saskatchewan winter, it's difficult not to feel a sense of being left behind.

Of course, while Christmas is a time for family, a lack of in-town friends is always a bummer. While it can be disheartening, Advent can be a time of anticipation for students, even if it doesn't look like there's anything in particular to look forward to. A Dec. 22 exam in philosophy is something to dread in my case.

Perhaps this can be flipped and seen as a sort of "end to suffering." I'd enjoy it more, perhaps, if I wasn't suddenly back in school Jan. 3. Before this begins to look like a mad rant against exams, and trust me, I've gone on many of those, maybe I should look at the positive side.

Once exams are over the early morning classes are gone for a month, no more essays for a while, lots of time to sleep in and there's not that much time I'll spend studying. Even if I and those around me get on edge because of exam time, Christmas is a time to recharge and rejuvenate from the intense exam period. Even if you're apologizing at Christmas dinner for snapping the night before your big final, you are sure to be forgiven, because that's what the season's all about.

So take heart and celebrate. If your friends are all gone, send them notes that let them know you're thinking about them during this hectic time. Bonus points for writing them during your actual exam.

While the season may be lonesome without your usual crowd of friends or that special someone, there's no reason to be lonely. You may be burnt out like bad Christmas lights, but at least you're not the only one. Rest up, kick back and relax during the season. Just think, in four short months you'll have all those wonderful Easter exams to look forward to.

(De Jong, 21, studies English at the University of Saskatoon.)

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