The end of a semester brings a certain kind of joy to us students. We know that both a temporary vacation from schoolwork and a nice long break at home are near.
But there’s that one last hurdle we each have to overcome: Finals Week.
Each student’s obstacles are very different leading up to and during that dreaded week. Some students may have research papers to turn in throughout the course of the week with just one final exam. Others may have three final exams crammed into one day. Then, there are those with a final exam during the last time slot on Friday, after which they have to sprint back their dorms to make sure they don’t get kicked out by their RA when it’s time to leave for break.
While each individual student suffers from different “ailments” during Finals Week, I believe we can find community in this difficult patch of our academic careers.
Merriam-Webster defines “community” in multiple ways, but a few definitions are more suitable than others for the purpose of this column. Community is “a unified body of individuals: as the people with common interests living in a particular area, an interacting population of various kinds of individuals (as species) in a common location, a group of people with a common characteristic or interest living together within a larger society” and “social activity: fellowship.”
We refer to the “JCU community” many times in this newspaper, and for good reason. One common bond – our individual choices to attend John Carroll University – brings us all together, whether we like it or not. Plenty of examples, along with Finals Week, are evident.
The Rhapsody Blue concert last week gave me a glimpse of this community at work. Not only did we see a great performance in The Underground last Thursday, but we also supported our friends and classmates on stage.
Our team at The Carroll News is also a community of sorts. Each of us brings different skills and personalities to the newsroom, which makes for lively deadline nights on Tuesdays. Our staff has grown and connected as fellow editors and friends through the common experiences we share with each edition of the newspaper. I’m excited to see all the progress we’re going to continue to make next semester.
The last 10 p.m. Mass of the semester on Sunday, which was also the last such Mass for the Rev. Jim Collins, S.J., was another example of the JCU community at work. Another packed house inside St. Francis Chapel gathered to bless Father Jim as he embarks on a new chapter in his Jesuit journey. Afterwards, we shared pizza and conversation together.
I’ve always believed Mass is a great way to build community between others. This Saturday, we have Christmas Carroll Eve, which includes musical performances, 11 p.m. Mass at Gesu and midnight breakfast – to build off the communal spirit we encountered last weekend.
Through these experiences we’ll embark on Finals Week. In the coming days, we JCU students will continue to support each other through the exams we dread so much. We’ll find our favorite study areas in the library, brew a cup of our favorite warm beverage and snuggle with our enormous textbooks and pages upon pages of notes. We’ll hunker down with fellow classmates doing the same thing in our common quest for higher GPAs.
So, however you find community during this Finals Week and holiday season, I hope you find happiness in the company you keep. May the fellowship we find and common bonds we share shine bright during the coming weeks.