One Pen Explosion and Two Floods of Tea

Yesterday, I took the comprehensive exam for my major, Literary Studies. For the last month, I have reviewed the work of over thirty authors. I spent about 100 hours studying and meeting with other students and professors to discuss the texts. I used three stacks of sticky notes, I dried out four highlighters, and I filled two notebooks with plot summaries, analysis, and outlines. I suffered one pen explosion and two floods of tea across my work.

Although all of these elements make up my month, I really cannot quantify my experience. I have never felt so committed and engrossed in my studies. My commitment did not find its source in professorial oversight, however. I had so much freedom to study the way I wanted to! I managed all my own time, and my fellow seniors and I planned our own curriculum. Some of our best classes occurred when no professor came to join our discussion. Instead, we examined and considered the texts amongst ourselves, participating in illuminating and riotous conversations about the nature of reality and fate and literature. I always thought that given that much freedom, my work ethic would surely crumble. But it turns out I actually am a self-starter! That’s not just something I write on my resume. I so valued the chance to collaborate with my peers and really get to know them intellectually and personally. Because of the opportunity to direct my own studies, I really feel pride in my hard work. That feeling of ownership will never wear off.

Sometimes, I get a little caught up in my extracurricular activities and my outdoor adventures, but at the end of the day, I came to Middlebury to study. This month, I have studied harder and more effectively than ever before. Now, I just have to write my thesis…

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