Take On Finals Week Like An Astronaut
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Student Life

Take On Finals Week Like An Astronaut

One astronaut's mindset during a Hubble Space Telescope repair mission makes for a good mindset during finals week.

Take On Finals Week Like An Astronaut

I once saw a panel in the comic strip Foxtrot by Bill Amend, where a high-school character talked about an Army recruiter who had come to woo students to join the military. Apparently, the recruiter had been so straightforward about the hardship and effort of bootcamp that no one was interested – until he held up for comparison a college calculus textbook, and suddenly everyone was giving Army life serious thought.

It's times like finals week that I'm sure we all wonder if this college thing is all it's cracked up to be. When you're up to your ears in responsibilities and Einstein's theory of relativity could be proven all over again by how quickly twenty-four hours can fly by but you still have assignments to finish and notes to review – well, it can make the pot of gold at the end of a rainbow seem a little more achievable than your degree. It almost makes you nostalgic for the days of standardized tests (but only almost).

If you're a freshman, like me, and wondering how to survive this difficult time: I'm afraid I'm in the same boat. If I said I knew exactly what to do, I'd be lying as blatantly as a politician. But I did once see somebody else deal with a mind-boggling amount of work in an unusual way that might be applicable here. So let me back up a few years to when I was lucky enough to be in Kennedy Space Center for the second-to-last space shuttle launch.

The thing about launches is that there's a lot of hurry-up-and-wait. You get there, you claim your viewing spot with a picnic blanket and at least one person manning it at all times – and then you've got hours until the space shuttle takes off. So I spent some of my time watching the IMAX film on a Hubble Space Telescope repair mission that was showing. There was a part in the documentary where one of the astronauts on the repair crew had to fasten innumerable bolts on Hubble's side – while in a bulky space suit, attached to his shuttle by only a cord, and, you know, floating in the vastness of outer space. Shots of the astronaut carefully screwing in each bolt were interspersed with a later interview of him. "I had a kind of Zen approach," the astronaut told the camera. He didn't think about the Earth below, or space behind. He paid no attention to how many bolts he still had to fasten or the many hours it would likely take. All he thought about was the bolt he was screwing in at that precise second. He gave it his complete attention, focusing on every detail of his task that he might perfect it.

I'm no astronaut (sadly), just a stressed-out college freshman facing her first finals week, but maybe someone who has an astronaut's truly global perspective can advise us. There's nothing more overwhelming and stressful than looking at the long, long list of things you have to do during the all-important finals week. Taking your responsibilities one bolt at a time while putting everything else out of your mind might help us, like the Hubble telescope, do our best work and see more clearly.

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This article has not been reviewed by Odyssey HQ and solely reflects the ideas and opinions of the creator.
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