Imagine being able to sleep later than 7 am, to watch prime-time television, to spend the whole day in pajamas, to have time to go grocery shopping, to have time to cook (not just heat) dinner…
For Darden FY students, the above activities are just figments of the imagination during the first quarter. During typical school weeks, I wake up at 7 am, shower, dress, do hair and makeup so that I look presentable for company briefings later in the day, grab my first cup of coffee at 7:45 (thank goodness for timers on coffee makers!), hop in the car, get to Darden by 8 am, spend the next 5 hours in class (refilling coffee every 85 minutes), grab a quick lunch, attend a company briefing or two, meet with a career coach/attend a club function/hit up another networking event, run home, pound a diet coke, prep the three cases for the next day, zap my dinner in the microwave while I change my clothes, then head back to Darden for learning team at 8 pm, get home around 10 pm, and spend some time unwinding, paying bills, trying to keep in touch with friends (which I am really bad at doing lately), and then fall into bed exhausted around midnight or 1 am. I frequently grocery shop at 10 pm, on my way home from learning team (there are four grocery stores between Darden and my apartment, 3 miles away). I don’t have time to cook dinner unless it’s a weekend (fortunately, I made a bunch of meals in August and froze them, and between those, lean cuisines, and free food at briefings or networking events, I manage to avoid dinners consisting of chips, cookies, or other unhealthy but quick foods). It’s a brutal schedule. I thought I’d have time for naps, like I did in college, but I do not. I am literally on the go doing Darden-related activities for 14+ hours a day.
However, once exam week rolled around, I found that I actually had some time to unwind and act like a normal human being. I had time to clean my apartment. I had time to go to both dinner and brunch with friends during the weekend before exams. I woke up each day at 8 am, grabbed some coffee and a granola bar, worked on the day’s exam for 5 hours, printed it out, drove to school and dropped it off, and by no later than 3 pm each day, I was a free woman. I caught up on the shows stored on my DVR. I painted my toe nails. I cooked. I ironed a huge stack of business casual attire. I spent a lot of time on Facebook. I took naps. I read books for fun. It was amazing.
Then second quarter started….and by day 2 I found myself counting down the days until Q2 exam week.