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Navigating Finals Season

Written by First Year Rep, Maddy Davis

I knew upon entering my first year at Queen’s that I would have a number of new challenges and experiences to face, one of them being my first exam season. While I knew it was coming, I was definitely not prepared for the toll it would take on my mental health. I had a total of two finals in my entire high school career, so taking 5 in a 10-day period was intimidating, to say the least.

Spending all day, every day for weeks on end sitting down in a library was detrimental to my wellbeing. I felt emotionally drained, and dreaded waking up each day knowing it would be the same thing as the day before. I somehow felt overwhelmed with stress but also bored and unmotivated to get the work done, which didn’t help anything. I started eating badly and neglected doing things that were a part of my normal routine, like going to the gym. On top of it all, I got mono three exams in, which made trying to study impossible.

Going into finals I had been prepared to live through a shitty two weeks, but I never expected those two weeks to impact my mental health in a way that lasted for months. I had been excited to go home for Christmas for weeks, but when it actually came time, I felt no joy, or even relief that exams were done. The stress had built up and failed to leave even when all my exams were finished.

I learnt many lessons from my first exam season, the most important one being that taking time to do the things you love is more important than ever during exams and shouldn’t be pushed away for the sake of extra study hours. Taking an hour each day to exercise would have barely taken any time away from my studying but would have had a massive impact on my well-being. I learnt to take breaks, get outside, and never sit at a desk frustrated or unmotivated, as it just makes things worse.

While finals will never be an enjoyable experience, I know going into my second exam season that I will be much better prepared and know the importance of taking care of myself and my health above all. Yes, grades matter, but academic success is impossible if we don’t prioritize our well being.

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