The Daily Tar Heel

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Sunday April 11th

From comfort food to all-nighters: Students share their finals traditions

<p>DTH Photo Illustration. Different students have different practices they go through to destress before final exams.</p>
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DTH Photo Illustration. Different students have different practices they go through to destress before final exams.

Some students wear lucky socks, some study nonstop and some don’t study at all. But one thing is for sure – when finals season comes around, everyone feels it. 

Many students have their own unique ways of coping with the inherent anxiety that comes from test-taking. When it comes to finals, Felipe Yanaga, a first-year computer science major, said self-care is an important aspect of his routine.

“Before a final, I always try to eat something I like for dinner the day before so I’m feeling good and not stressed out,” Yanaga said. “I also like to think I’m an avid reader, so whenever I have a big test, I just go away from the subject and read something that I like to calm myself down.” 

In pre-pandemic years, aside from indulging in reading and comfort foods, Yanaga relied on his friends to destress and take the edge off before a big exam.

“In high school, my friends and I always hung out at a park or just went to get ice cream before a stressful final,” Yanaga said. “When you’re with your friends, you feel like other people are going through the same thing, and misery likes company.”

Like Yanaga, sophomore Cecilia Lee often turns to her favorite foods to soothe her academic nerves.

“I always have a ton of chocolate before,” Lee said. “I don’t know why. It’s like my comfort food, I guess. I usually try not to eat sweets, but for the finals period, I just forgive myself.”

Throughout the semester, many professors offer office hours, or open time slots for students to receive individualized help. For many students, office hours help to to reinforce important class concepts and connect with professors.

“When finals season starts to approach, I’m incredibly stressed, nervous, sleep deprived and anxious,” Lee said. “I go to a lot of office hours, I review all of my notes and if the lectures are recorded, I rewatch all of them on two times speed.”

During this unprecedented academic year, students will be forced to take their finals from home and without the University’s regular reading days. Since students must decide whether to pass-fail their classes before finals, many are studying extra hard for their exams, said Robbie Luna, a senior.

“That’s kind of frustrating for some of us who were considering pass-failing because it’s kind of a mind game now," Luna said. 

In studying for finals at home, students can no longer pack the floors of Davis Library to commiserate en masse or motivate one another to push through the home stretch of the semester.

“In normal times, I really enjoyed spending a long time in the library with my friends and buying food at Alpine, or staying up late with coffee,” Luna said. “In a sense, it was kind of a sacred time to be with my friends. Obviously, sleep is important, but it kind of all becomes secondary.”

No matter how stressful this semester has been, it’s almost over. Yanaga wants those who are stressed to know that they are not alone.

“Everyone is stressed about finals,” Yanaga said. “This one semester is not a reflection of who you are, both as a learner and as a person. It is important, but it’s not as important as your mental health.”


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