I did a little math and this past September 2nd marked my first day of 19th grade. While I packed my own lunch like a big girl and there were no photos taken on the front stoop before sending me off to school (ok, that’s a lie, my mom absolutely took a picture. Quite frankly, the dog looks a lot better in it than I do) much about the first day of school remains the same. There’s the anticipation of seeing your friends after a summer off; a welcome chance for a fresh start; the opportunity to learn something new; and, of course, the brand spanking new school supplies.*
And then the first syllabus landed on my desk.
And then another one came to my e-mail inbox.
And then I got a reminder about a medication calculation quiz that had to be passed with a score of 100% or else I wouldn’t be able to continue with my program.
And suddenly, my post-summer glow was replaced with the kind of cold, clammy, glamorous sweat that comes from realizing that the demands on your time are a lot greater than the time you have available.
Fast forward to week 9 of the semester and we find ourselves in the middle of what I like to call “The Slog.” The shiny newness of the semester has faded and everyone has settled in comfortably or, not so comfortably, for the ride. Signs and symptoms of The Slog include diminished exposure to daylight, increased or decreased caloric consumption depending on your stress response of choice, and inappropriate laughter at something you would never, ever find amusing if you were less sleep-deprived or less caffeinated.
It’s about this time that we (or maybe just I) start counting down the days until Winter Break knowing full well that the closer we get to the end of this semester, the closer we are to the all too terrifying prospect of being out in the workforce practicing on our own. There’s definitely something to be said for being wrapped in the warm, secure cocoon of the college environment. For us third semester nursing students this term has brought us quick-healing children in pediatrics clinical, awe-inspiring childbirth in our OB/GYN rotation, insight into mental illness in psychiatric nursing, and, for some, the luxury of an elective. There are study breaks to be had, fundraising bake sales to pillage, and free yoga available through the fitness center.
And, if none of that works, Winter Break starts in 48 days.
*Or, you know, assorted pens you collected from hotels over the summer. Thank YOU, Short Hills, New Jersey Hilton.