Weekly Column: The miserable crawl of fall semester

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This has been such a stressful week. NATHAN HARE. DECEMBER 3, 2013

As our semester draws ever closer to its end, we find ourselves reflecting on the experiences of the fall. Despite any and all successes by students, though, the atmosphere on campus is often anything but joyful. The weather is bleak, and many students feel a similar melancholy. How can they not? Midterms rage on, and the looming presence of finals can be felt by all.

Of course, the schedule of the fall semester is not very conducive to any other emotions than dread and despair. We are at week nine out of 10 continuous five-day weeks. We have not had a single day of rest since the passing of Labor Day—at the second week of the semester. Oh, what lament it is to work down to the bone at the beginning of every academic year.

I try to push myself whenever possible, as I am sure most people do. However, this semester, I feel as if I am running myself into the ground. Disheveled is the word that I keep coming back to to describe my life. My room, my hair, even my thoughts: all just disheveled. Every week is filled with new exercises in tight scheduling, balancing duties and studying. Lots of studying. Any time spent not keeping up with classes feels like a waste, to the point where I have developed a rather odd affliction. I feel myself dissociate when relaxing, judging and making myself nervous from some otherworldly plane.

I cannot enjoy time off, even on weekends. Any time spent not working feels like it is wasted, even when there is not much better to do with my time. That is why an actual break of some sort is needed. Some time to get away from campus and the associated mindset of work would do wonders for the collective mental health of UConn’s population. It needs to be specific time off, not just weekends that fill themselves with homework and assignments.

Some readers will decry this attitude, citing the grindstone of the “real world” and its demanding schedule. Saying that the United States’ culture towards work is healthy is laughable itself, though, and it is not that I am saying I have too much work. I know I am stronger than whatever can be thrown at me now. It simply could be broken up in a much more intelligent way.

Look at the schedules of most other colleges. Many feature a week off in the middle of fall, sometimes at the sacrifice of part of Thanksgiving break. This would break up the longest stretch of the academic year. It doesn’t even need to be a full week like some others, just a day or two at some point would do.

Am I being dramatic? Of course. I thrive on it. But there is a legitimate point to be made about the expectations set upon students. This schedule frankly feels unnecessarily strained. I’m sure some prefer the grind of fall compared to the more splintered spring, but the vast majority of faces I walk by on my daily commute are gaunt and worn. I have no doubt that their strain can be attributed to the long schedule that is yet to be finished.

But, the administration shows no sign of fixing this. So, we all must carry on for another two weeks, invigorated by sheer willpower alone, motivated solely by the desire to have a week off from classes and campus. Avoiding giving into the dread and anxiety of fall semester is not easy, but for UConn students it is a yearly exercise forced upon us.


Peter Fenteany is a weekly columnist  for The Daily Campus. He can be reached via email at peter.fenteany@uconn.edu.

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