Exam Week: The Perfect Time to Try Something New.

Dead Week is finally over, and that means that exam week is upon us.

To ease myself into exam week, I spent most of the weekend lying in bed and watching Netflix instead of studying, which may or may not have been a good life choice, especially when I discovered that three of my five exams are on Wednesday and I’m not sufficiently prepared for them.

I also eased myself into exam week by attending Festival of Carols.

Festival of Carols tickets go on sale as early as Halloween (or at least it seems that early) and they always go alarmingly fast. I didn’t have tickets secured because by the time I had realized it was Christmas season, the tickets were completely sold out. However, by grace of the Alma gods, there are always those people that get tickets held for them and then never pick them up. Then people like me who never quite realize that it’s holiday time can swoop in and take them.

I did just that on Sunday afternoon.

Sundays are always a fun time to go to concerts; it’s the day where family members come, and most of them are elderly retired people. I had the opportunity to sit next to an older lady with a red hat that exclaimed, “Oh, look how large it is!” when a bass drum was wheeled onto the stage to assist one of the songs.

Festival of Carols always brings out my inner musician. In middle school I played the tuba (I know. Don’t hate.) and the trumpet. I’ve played the piano nearly my whole life, at one point in seventh grade I dabbled with the harp, and in high school I played the marimba (the big black xylophone) and I picked up the cello. I also compulsively bought a guitar last spring semester and named it Clementine. So my inner musician is decently close to my heart.

Festival of Carols, however, brings out my inner choral musician. You know, the inner musician that wins American Idol: Shower Edition.

This inner choral musician could not be quelled. I spent the rest of the weekend singing wherever I went, which was mostly the PMA house (where everyone sings) and Chapel (where everyone still sings) and my room (where I don’t have a roommate and can sing happily by myself).

So yesterday, after singing all weekend, I ventured into the music building and introduced myself to Dr. Nichols, who most people affectionately call Doc.

I edged my way into his office and shook his hand after introducing myself. I told him I was a junior, had never had any sort of vocal training, and was definitely one hundred percent interested in Chorale. I told him I had been in three musicals: Guys and Dolls, Anything Goes, and Fiddler on the Roof.

After telling me that he was excited that I was an out of state student and that those were lovely musicals and he was sure that I would be fabulous, he sat down at the piano and started to play something I didn’t recognize. He then looked at me, obviously as if to say, Why aren’t you singing yet? When I still didn’t sing, he said, “Fiddler on the Roof?”

Hang on there a minute. I was in Fiddler on the Roof in seventh grade.

He then started to play Hark the Herald Angels Sing and I jumped right into it, and halfway through the song I realized I was wearing my ugly Christmas sweater from the eighties to prepare for my RA Christmas party later that night and was sufficiently embarrassed, and as soon as I noticed this, I realized that, not being a soprano, I wasn’t quite hitting the high note that I needed to be hitting. Doc also realized this and had me sing some scales that got lower and lower and lower until I felt a little bit like a boy trying to reach puberty.

Then he enthusiastically shook my hand again and told me that I was in Chorale.

Here lies the ultimate question: with my busy life, busy job, and busy schedule, do I need another thing to add to my crazy life? Especially during exam week, of all times?

Answer: probably not.

But to my inner musician, the one that constantly wins American Idol: Shower Edition (much to the chagrin of my suitemates), the answer is yes, I needed to join Chorale.

So I joined Chorale. What will you do with your exam week?

Dead Week.

Since coming to Alma College, I’ve discovered something.

I am one of the only people that calls the last week of classes Dead Week.

Now, I’m not a native of Michigan. I’m from the corn state of Indiana where most of my high school friends went off to Purdue and Indiana University. I was mocked my senior year for choosing to go to Alma, and I was even laughed at when I spilled hydrochloric acid on my Alma shirt in my AP Chemistry class. (The worst part about that ordeal, besides the holes in my precious Alma shirt, was the fact that my dad was my teacher.)

Many of the big universities, especially the ones like IU and Purdue, call the last week of classes Dead Week. I guess I kind of adopted it.

That means that this week is… drum roll please… Dead Week.

Dead Week always has that kind of dark glamour to it. Everybody is super excited because, hey, it’s the last week of classes! After that, it’s just exam week! And once your exams are done, you can go home for Christmas! Which for me means going to Florida with my parents, where my mother hinted that we might go to the Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I will probably die of happiness at the gates.

But Dead Week just isn’t a happy yay last week of classes! gig. It’s also that moment of “Oh crap. I have to study for all of my exams and turn in all of my projects and get everything done and live in the library and Highland Java isn’t nearly open enough, not that they’d have enough coffee anyway.”

Last year I made a list of what Dead Week and Exam Week look like at Alma College.

1. Grab all of the books and notes you own.
2. Spend an hour trying to find a place to camp out in the library, buy something with caffeine from Highland Java, and praise the extended hours.
3. Spend a ridiculous amount of time on Facebook, Tumblr, Youtube, or whatever you’re into.
4. Actually do your homework when you realize it’s midnight and the library closes at two.

Sound about accurate? I thought so.

Last year I started a Dead Week tradition that could probably only happen at Alma College.

I started carrying my eighteen year old vintage stuffed Simba around with me everywhere I went.

This is Simba at my carrel, which I like to call The Procrastination Station.

Simba goes with me everywhere during Dead Week. He has his own pocket in my backpack where his head sticks out so people can pet him. I take him out during class and set him on my lap where I can pet him and hug him. Most of my professors don’t mind that I come in every day with a giant stuffed lion. It’s Dead Week, after all.

Simba’s favorite places on campus are the library where he can sit on my carrel and look over my homework, and Saga, where lots of people come to pet him.

When you have eight billion things to do, you don’t remember what your room looks like because you’re spending so much time in the library, and you forget to eat dinner, it’s nice to have a piece of something you love with you wherever you go. For me, that would be my giant stuffed Simba.

Find something that can make Dead Week and Exam week bearable. It doesn’t have to be carrying a giant stuffed animal around everywhere. In fact, I wouldn’t necessarily recommend it; people tend to stare at you and when you find out that your professors haven’t seen The Lion King, you get filled with an unhappy righteous indignation. (Because obviously The Lion King is the best movie ever and every single professor should have seen it by now. I mean, it’s been out for eighteen years.)

It’s Dead Week. There’s a lot to do. There’s a lot going on. You have ALL OF THE PROJECTS! And papers. And exams. But it’s only a week and then it’s exams!

We can do it! Simba agrees.

And if you happen to see Simba at Saga this week, he really does appreciate people petting him. And I also love to meet new people. So come say hello!