I was slightly terrified to embark on my first finals week during my freshman year at Whitman. I had taken finals in high school, but nothing like the experience of having finals in college. With a list of Kurt Vonnegut quotes for my English paper, a stack of Encounters books covering the whole semester, a Spanish-English dictionary to write my Spanish final, and a steaming cup of coffee, I was ready to dive in. The experience of taking finals at Whitman varies by year and by area of study. Not having taken many science or math classes, I have avoided spending hours studying textbooks and sitting down to take a final. Mostly my finals have consisted of in-class essays, take home essays, and final papers or projects. My finals have gotten longer, harder, and mattered more as I have progressed through my years at Whitman.
I look back at that first round of finals my freshman year with fondness. I was anxious, scared, and worried about the 40% of the class grade next to the words “Final Paper.” I was also excited and somewhat thrilled to finally be in college and going through a process that is so emblematic of what it is like to be a college student. I honestly do not remember those finals very distinctly. I could not say what my thesis statement was on my English paper or how long it took me to write my first Spanish paper that was over three pages. However, I do have a very distinct memory of one aspect of my freshmen year finals week.
I finished my finals a day or two before most people. My friend and I decided we would provide some entertainment to perk up those people who were still hard at work in the library and to let off a little steam post-finals. We spent an hour blowing bubbles out of a bubble wand on the third floor of the library down on the main lobby area as students streamed in and out. Like other random and strange activities that take place in the library (shirtless males dancing to 90s pop hits, the a capella groups spontaneously breaking into song, cookie and candy fairies, and minimally-clothed people running through the quiet room), blowing bubbles on stressed out and frustrated students felt like a small contribution to the general positive atmosphere of the community and support network that exists at Whitman. And I can only hope that as I approach the finals week of my senior year with a thesis proposal and exhaustingly long final papers looming over me, someone will be there with bubbles, candy, songs, or silly faces to keep me going.