Fall is in full swing and all of the sudden I went from wearing t-shirts last week to wearing a coat, hat and gloves this week. It is getting darker, longer and to be completely honest, all I want to do is sleep.
The strength and determination I have entered into the semester with is waning. But I feel like that’s how pretty much all of us feel by now. With such a busy schedule, the demands of midterms have come back to haunt me.
There is a huge temptation to be overwhelmed by everything that I need to get done over the next couple of weeks. In between essay exams, 10-page papers, math homework, and other tests I may have accidentally forgotten about until the day of….. all the anxious thoughts in my head beg for some chance at relief.
But you know what? I have not collapsed quite yet. In fact, for the most part I have actually enjoyed the craziness of the last two weeks. How is this possible? What is my secret?
My method in the madness is simple:
- Take control of the material. Make it yours. Don’t let your assignments control you.
In my writing class, we had to write a 10-page book proposal on some aspect of our lives. Angsty because I couldn’t find anything interesting about my life… I decided to OWN the assignment and write about something I enjoyed instead: conspiracy theories. And because I decided to push the boundaries of the assignment and implement creativity, I got through it.
For social justice, we had our midterm last week, and it was a series of written questions about the topics we discussed in class. Racking my brain to figure out when I could find the time to study for it, I decided to incorporate something I enjoy — documentaries — into my studying. Over the weekend I watched a series of documentaries on the social movements we talked about in class, and I loved doing it.
Super simple, yes, but I feel like making the things I need to do for class my own, I am learning how to make the most out of my education. I feel like what I am learning is mine. I am learning to dream for myself, process things on my own, and come up with my own conclusions about the material. I am developing more concrete opinions, and I think it is beautiful how school has given me the resources to back up those claims. I’m still figuring out how to do math homework more creatively, but the process of brainstorming unconventionality is a more enjoyable process in itself.
Moreover, own your education. The information you are being given is yours. Use it, and let yourself have some fun in doing so.
Abigail Floresca is a junior majoring in criminology, law and justice with a minor in professional writing. Writing is how she connects, processes, expresses and relates to the rest of the world. Increasingly aware of the power of storytelling in bringing about change and reform, Abigail earnestly seeks to find a way to incorporate a perfect blend of writing and social work within the criminal justice system — she dreams of bringing about a positive change, one story at a time. At UIC, she is involved in campus ministry; conducts research with the criminology, law and justice department; interns with the Chicago Justice Project, and loves exploring new places downtown.