A freshman’s reflections on dead week

Jamin Kim-Sanders/Staff
Jamin Kim-Sanders/Staff

When I first heard about dead week, I thought it was a joke. I couldn’t believe that there was an entire week dedicated to studying. When I realized that it was real, I was incredibly relieved — having an entire week to do nothing but study would definitely reduce my stress load. There was no way I’d fail with an entire nine days to study!

What I didn’t realize about dead week was that nine days without class really means nine days to do nothing, procrastinate, freak out and generally convince yourself that you’re going to have to drop out of school and never achieve any of your dreams. It means letting those first five days lull you into a false sense of security because, after all, you’re studying a little! You’re balancing sleep and schoolwork and your social life! Until the sixth day, when you realize that you’ve only been studying for your favorite classes and ignoring the final that you have Monday. Nine days without class means nine days to spend an unnecessary amount of money, especially around Christmastime. Most of all, what I didn’t realize before beginning dead week was that it’s practically impossible to study for nine days straight.

I came to these realizations about Thursday of dead week and started to panic. Lucky for me, my favorite class had its final Monday and I had already written one of my term papers, so I was ahead of the curve in that regard — I had already been studying for it. My Tuesday and Wednesday finals, however, didn’t get the same attention. I’m not usually one to procrastinate, so I wasn’t really sure how to deal with it. By Saturday, my sleep, sanity and bank account were all severely impacted by those supposedly glorious nine days. When my mom came to pick me up Wednesday after my final, I wasn’t entirely sure that I was speaking English. Dead week was not all that I thought it would be.

Despite it all, dead week did seem to be more of a blessing than a curse. In high school, we didn’t get the luxury of a week off before finals. Granted, finals weren’t as high-stakes as they are here at UC Berkeley, but amid the pressure of college applications, they seemed like death. I am one of those people who is in extreme danger of working herself to the ground when overwhelmed by stress — I can only imagine how stressed I would have been without the week to study for my first-ever college finals. I was glad for the break, because it allowed me time to spend with my friends (something I was notoriously bad at in high school), to actually remember to eat, to finish holiday shopping and to plan for studying in the beautiful UC Berkeley libraries, rather than just pulling last-minute all-nighters in the depths of Main Stacks.

So, I thank Oski, Dirks and all other Berkeley deities responsible for the creation and continuation of dead week. Now I know what to look out for (hello, procrastination) and when I should actually start studying to manage my time wisely, and I am immensely grateful that dead week exists. Without it, finals would kill me.

Contact Taylor Follett at [email protected].