C. Adam Pfander Photograph


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Finally Returning

November 27, 2012   

My arrival back on campus marked a dramatic change in the atmosphere on the Hill.  The air is chillier; the ground colder; and the small talk among students is anxious with anticipation of things to come.  Over the long Thanksgiving recess Hamilton drastically changed its face.  And now, seeming all at once, the campus prepares for the conclusion of the fall semester.

This feeling perhaps stems from the snow covering all campus grounds and walkways; over the holiday, winter finally came to stay on the Hill.  The easy, warm, almost summery days of the fall have been replaced with chill winds and harsh snow.  Just this afternoon, my toes went numb while trudging through the wet slush on the road; sneakers are no longer viable footwear.

More important than the weather is the end of fall semester classes, which comes in just three short weeks.  I was shocked both when my economics professor announced the last three topics of our course and when my psychology professor pointed out that our remaining class meetings could be counted on my hands.

My first semester of classes is almost over—we are racing to the finish at this point.  And suddenly, I don’t feel so new anymore.  In just a few weeks, I will earn my first credits toward a major, toward graduation.  These grades I will carry with me for a long time….

Of course, with the end of a class comes that most frequent tradition—final exams.  They are a nagging burden, one last, 3-hour obligation before the semester’s conclusion. Around campus, students have suddenly remembered these final tests; “when’s your exam,” is an overly common talking point.  The answer is generally accompanied by groans of anxiety.

I don’t imagine these tests will come easily. As I said, these grades matter significantly. But that’s not to add any pressure to the end of the semester.

So I come back to campus from Thanksgiving, only to find everyone caught up in Winter’s rush to the finish.