Alright, so you’ve heard us all griping about how difficult and harrowing Winter Quarter is. And as we’re sure you know, now that you’re in the midst of it, it sure is. But before you start to feel like this, we wanted to intervene to let you know that there are plenty of things to do to manage Winter Quarter stress. And some ways in which, maybe, you might even learn to enjoy the UChicago quarter that is almost mythically scary.
1) Pace yourself. Plan ahead. Resign yourself to the fact that you won’t be able to read everything for every one of your classes. Prioritize your workload so that things feel manageable. Try to settle on final paper topics by Week 5 so that you are not struggling to pick up the pieces at the last minute. You will really thank yourself by the time the quarter is winding down. Try to find interesting ways to put your classes into conversation with one another (or with your thesis). It will make your work feel more meaningful, creative and comprehensive – and it also might help you narrow down your reading lists when it comes to approaching final papers and projects.
2) Enjoy the snow! Okay – it’s cold as $@!#*, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t frolic in the winter wonderland that is Hyde Park in January/February. Go outside. Get in touch with your childhood self. Make a Hegelian snowman of Little Geist. (Ok, no. Please don’t do that.) And, while I’m not usually a huge fan of UChicago libraries, take advantage of the first true snowfall of the season to hole up in the insulated intellectual igloo (#alliteration, WHAT UP?!) that snow-covered Mansueto becomes. It’s weirdly magical. (PSA: Do NOT attempt to scale the icy heights of said igloo. You will be fined. Information courtesy of Mentor Hickox. He denies ever having attempted to do such a thing.)
3) Maintain (and make new!) friendships and relationships. This may seem to be a rather mundane point. But, somehow, keeping in touch with people during Winter Quarter starts to feel a lot more difficult. Your precept groups have dispersed into smaller thesis groups; there is no longer the glue of Core to hold you all together. (Never thought you’d miss Core, did you??) All of a sudden, Social Hour becomes a rare, rather than weekly, occurrence. We were not kidding you guys back in Fall Quarter when we insisted that these are the types of things that help to keep you sane. So, seriously. Make sure you see people outside of class – give yourself time to unwind. In addition to scheduling study time, make sure that you also schedule NO-study time (i.e. 12 hour periods when you are NOT ALLOWED to pick up any academic-y books. And don’t convince yourself that Derrida counts as “pleasure reading.” That’s a Derri-don’t.) It will make approaching your work so much less stressful.
4) There are seriously some awesome places to go in Chicago’s wintery months. Catch some jazz at The Green Mill. Warm up your insides with an assortment of scotch at The Duke of Perth. Find a cozy study place in The Bourgeois Pig.
5) Finally, and most importantly, USE YOUR RESOURCES. If you’re bummed out about something – papers, classes, thesis stuff, life in general – talk to one of us. (“Us” being: one of your mentors, your preceptor, Maren, Sarah… anyone.) If you’re going through something, just remember that we’ve all gone through scary MAPH-related stuff, too. And, in all seriousness, if you need help, be sure to ask for it. If you are struggling to keep up with any of your classes, be sure to keep your professor and your preceptor in the loop so that they can help you manage your deadlines. Don’t wait until the end of the quarter to let these people know if you are struggling.
As always, come keep us company in MAPHCentral!