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Brandeis University's Community Newspaper — Waltham, Mass.

Engrossing: The obligatory, ‘end of semester’ review

Published: December 9, 2011
Section: Opinions

Sophomore year has been interesting, so far, for a couple of reasons.

There is something strange about being new, but not so new to Brandeis. I’m not settled on what I’m studying or what my leadership roles are, and I can’t even begin to imagine what I will do in two and a half years when I graduate. My year and a half here at Brandeis, however, has taught me a few things.

I’m aware that it may be a bit indulgent to write an article summing up my experience thus far at Brandeis (seeing as I haven’t been here for very long). I have decided to risk this indulgence, however, in order to reflect on what has been an exceedingly difficult (and important) semester.

At this mid-point in the year, I am comfortable summing my findings into a few conclusions. I hope that you will excuse my indulgence and that you will find these points useful in navigating the rest of the year and your time at Brandeis.

Communal living:

It is a huge transition going from first-year to sophomore-year housing for a couple of reasons. First of all, there is a big difference between living in a hall of people whom you are just meeting, and living with your friends with whom you chose to live. Friendships are getting real and the honeymoon phase is disappearing.
Most of the time, it’s awesome. Living with people whom you love means there is always someone around to edit a paper for you, off of whom to bounce ideas, with whom to watch a movie or from whom to steal food. Having someone with whom to talk at all times has been one of the best parts of this year and something that has kept me sane when I was dangerously close to a breakdown.

Living with friends, however, also comes with significant challenges. The fact that my friends are never more than a stone’s throw away has changed the nature of my friendships considerably. When your best friend is also your next-door neighbor, it can be hard to find time for yourself, and even your favorite people in the world will get annoying after a while.

Also, in communal living situations, your messiness is not just your problem. When living with friends, every forgotten sock and dish left a day too long becomes a potential source of conflict. The obvious solution for this problem is to clean up for yourself, but we all know that this isn’t always a reality. The next best thing is to be honest with your friends and make sure that you communicate your issues and take responsibility for your mess!

Keeping a balance:

It has taken me until this point in my Brandeis career to realize that classes really are the most important part of my life here. (See, Mom and Dad?! I figured it out!)

While this may seem intuitive (and like something that I should have known already) it is a hard conclusion to which to come, when extracurriculars, new friends and free pizza events beckon.
I did reasonably well last year, but not as well as I could have if I would have paid an appropriate amount of attention to my classes.

This semester, I got invested in the classes that I was taking. I got to know professors and really paid attention to what I was studying. I can honestly say that I have learned so much with this new perspective. The best way to make work easy is to make it enjoyable. If you like what you’re doing, then you’re not working.
College is a time when we get to focus our time studying the thing in which we are most interested. Sometimes that perspective is helpful to retain focus on what really matters.

Put yourself first:

So, what I said before about classes being the most important part of life here at Brandeis was sort of a lie.
The real most important thing here will never be something external, because if you don’t take care of yourself, then nothing else matters.

This semester has been really difficult. I have never been as busy as I have been for the past few months. I have pushed my body’s ability to stay awake and watched the sun rise over Chapels Field through my common room’s window more times than I feel comfortable admitting in writing. It was not fun.

Sleep is so much more necessary than we realize on a day-to-day basis, that is a lesson that I learned the hard way, and one that I (after too many all-nighters in a row) will never forget.