Ask a fifth-year: Let the Sun Shine (While I Finish This Essay)

Dear Sarah,

Everyone complains about how hard Winter Term is, but I always find Spring Term to be the most academically stressful. I’m torn between wanting to spend all my time outside, enjoying the brief few months of nice weather Appleton actually gets, and needing to stay indoors to write papers, practice and do other such school-related activities. Do you have any suggestions on how to balance these two things?

– Professionally Pasty-Legged Sophomore


Dear Pasty-Legged,

I’ve found this to be a stressful part of Spring Term as well. Nobody wants to stay inside and stare at a computer screen when they could be outside having a picnic or playing soccer. However, I’m betting you also don’t want to fail all your classes because you were too busy kicking balls and eating tiny cucumber sandwiches to type up a lab report.

Most of the ways I have found to strike this balance revolve around time management.

Do your work outside. I know it seems like an obvious answer, but working outside takes more thought and planning than you might think. For those of us who excel at working in noisy environments and are not distracted by the hustle and bustle going on around us, the Main Hall green or out in front of the conservatory might be ideal locations. Other folks need quieter, more isolated places in order to focus on their material. The hill behind the Viking Room and the river walk down behind Trever Hall might be better locations.

Use natural lighting. Maybe studying outside really isn’t for you — the grass is too itchy and other people around you are too distracting. Maybe you accidentally squashed a bug into your textbook and the guts stained on page 376 have ruined your hopes of selling it back in “like new” condition.

If you must stay inside, try to find a place where you can at least see the weather outside. Instead of holing yourself up in a cubby-desk on one of the top floors of the library, try out one of the rooms in the Warch Campus Center instead. Find a table next to a window where you can watch the sunset.

Change up your schedule. Are you one of those people who tries to get all of their work done before they spend any time relaxing with friends? Maybe now is a good time to switch that up. Instead of spending all afternoon practicing in the conservatory basement, spend your daylight hours hanging out with friends and enjoying the weather. Leave your evenings free to study and practice instead. Also try scheduling specific out-of-doors time throughout the day. Get some friends together to take a walk. Start up a game of “con soccer.” (Please, somebody do this! I really miss “con soccer.”) Make a flower crown and pretend you’re at Coachella.

Winter Term has come and gone, and as a reward, we finally have sunshine and warm weather. Find ways to take advantage of it and don’t forget to invest in some sunscreen.