There’s something serene about the first few weeks of being back on campus. As a junior, I’ve been here twice before. Freshmen are excited about all the new opportunities and constantly bombarded with what they should try next. Sophomores are coming back knowing that this time things aren’t so new and scary after all. Juniors are gearing up for the future, and some are taking their first steps to figure out what exactly that means for them. Whether it’s studying for the MCAT, looking for another internship, or just doing a bit of soul searching, it always seems like there is work to be done. Yet, the calm is definitely there. Everyone is getting settled into classes and creating a new rhythm for a new year.

Of course, that all changes when everyone gets hit with their first round of exams. Suddenly, Thomas Cooper is packed with fresh faces and buzzing with nerves. That kid from down the hall is occupying your favorite study room in the Honors Residence. Everyone is positive that their professors have all conspired against them in scheduling exams in the same week or on the same day, and coffee seems to have become the university drink of choice. The calm has been put on halt for now, as students discover that the Fall semester is upon them. We all knew it was coming. Some even marked their calendars to prepare. But it never fails to surprise us. How, then, do we respond to this endless cycle of learning and tests we like to call school?

It may come as a shock, but the answer is somewhat simple: find a way to relax. There isn’t always a lot you can do. This is college -- You need to read the book and take notes and study and repeat. But remember to also eat and hydrate, which sometimes takes a backseat when you are deep in progress on the first floor of TCoop. Study with friends because it’s hard to get too low when you surrounded by friendly faces. You might even consider taking a walk and just breathing in some fresh air.

After my second exam this week, a friend of mine suggested that we get some work done on the Horseshoe just to change up the scenery a little bit. It was a beautiful day, unlike the scorching heat that had seemed to be taking over Columbia. Looking up from my books and up at the sky, I could see clear blue on a cloudless day and the light shining wonderfully through the trees. And for a moment, it felt as if the calm had returned.



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