7 Things To Do When You Finish Finals

Ah. The lovely sense of completion when you turn in your last project/finish your last final/have no more academic responsibilities for a semester.

That sense of completion is immediately followed by consternation about what to do next. I have some ideas for you. Continue reading

How to Do Something Impossible

You might have noticed I’ve been gone for a few weeks. Or you might not have. Heartless readers.

Reason for absence, short version: I had to find and take a 3-credit class in 2 weeks. As in, finishing my bachelor’s degree and starting my master’s degree and having a job at my university depended upon me doing this. Scary stuff.

And pretty much everyone told me it was impossible. But today, exactly 10 days after starting the coursework, I took my final and passed the class.

Your impossible thing might not be classwork. But I pulled a few principles from my experience that I think are far-reaching. Here you go!

How to Do Something Impossible

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Lyse Likes

First full week of the semester = finished! However, it also means I don’t have the endurance for a long, coherent post. Instead, I’m just going to share a myriad of things I have enjoyed recently.

The Iliad ~ The Frozen soundtrack (particularly applicable in below freezing weather here in the South!) ~ French ~ extra credit ~ surprise raccoons ~ quirky professors ~ chocolate ~ Thomas (his posts make me think and always strike some cord of connection) ~ yoga ~ friends who aren’t afraid to challenge me ~ short stories ~ my bed ~ scholastic bowl 😀 ~ jobs ~ overachievers ~ Wikipedia ~ packages (even if they’re just text books) ~ Orion


I am sitting in the sun, just a tiny bit chilly. Around my table, the leaves are falling and swirling like snow. The birds are making a racket. An upbeat Irish dance is playing on Pandora, and I am making progress on my homework. I could not ask for a better Saturday. I watched a movie last night. Slept in. Had freshly grilled brats (of the non-human type) for lunch. Good discussion with my best friend about the Christian philosophy of music – thankfully, we’re still friends! Looking forward to a few hours of work this evening, another movie, and hopefully more progress on my homework (computer program – it should only take a total of 10-12 hours).

I’m not sure I could ask for a better Saturday.

In defense of the liberal arts

I attend a liberal arts university. In addition to the English classes for my major, I am required to attend history, Bible, communications, philosophy, science, arts (music, art, or theater), and math/computer science classes. Sometimes my friends, here or at other liberal arts schools, complain about taking so many classes unrelated to their majors. While I could write a long defense of liberal arts, it would be boring and probably redundant for most of you. Instead, I would like to share a story that illustrates some of my favorite aspects of a liberal arts education.

This semester I am taking (in addition to other things) a philosophy class exploring major patterns in Western thought and a British Literature survey class. These two classes meet on the same day, separated by four hours. One morning last week, we studied Seneca in my philosophy class. Specifically, we read a selection from “On Happiness” and discussed his belief that happiness only accompanies virtue. 4 hours later, I was listening to a lecture on Alexander Pope (totally fascinating, but that’s a different story!). My teacher mentioned some of his writings that we didn’t read and told us that he believed virtue was happiness. In a terrific “ah-ha!” moment, I made the connection: Pope is a neoclassic, almost certainly well-studied in the Greek and Roman writers – if not Seneca, then others like him.  When I mentioned the connection, half the class nodded along with me, because they too are taking that philosophy class. Instead of simply knowing that the neoclassics studied the classic writers and allude to and copy them, we got to see it in action.

This is why I love liberal arts. Instead of classes being isolated, individual subjects, they all weave and connect – exactly like real life. In real life, our english is not separate from history, arts from science, philosophy from communication. They all come together to give us a more complete picture of the world. Why would anyone ever resign themselves to one tiny thread when they can view the whole tapestry?

Limbo (Also: I might be crazy)

After 1 entire week of no job or classes, I am back at school. I came early for work training, but that’s all over today. Classes don’t start until Wednesday. Work doesn’t start until Monday. It’s just me, alone in my dorm room, with nothing to do.

That’s not quite true. I have books I could read, paperwork I could fill out, organizing I could do, and naps I could take. But I have nothing I must do. And it feels so weird….

I forget how to function when I don’t have a demanding schedule. When my mind is not full of a never-ending task list. I can’t sleep at night, because I’m not exhausted. I could read…but without looming deadlines to make that recreational reading seem precious, I have no desire. It has been like this since I left my full-time job at home a week ago. I didn’t even pack until the day before I left, because there was no urgency.

I am ready for school to start. I want schedules, syllabi, textbooks, an agenda. I thrive on meeting deadlines and completing assignments. I am crazy.

Home is Where the Heart Is

You know that saying about having the “best of both worlds”? I’m feeling it…in reverse. I don’t know where my home is anymore. Whether I’m at school or at “home”, I miss the other one. At “home”, I’m surrounded by strangers who have known me my whole life. At school, I’m just surrounded by strangers. At “home”, everything is comfortable, familiar. But I built habits and memories at school too. I miss my church there. I miss early morning walks. I miss working out with my best friend. But when I’m at school, I miss my little sister. I miss walking my dog. I miss the guy I love.

I’ve resigned myself to the fact that it will probably be this way for all of my college career. It is a strange waiting period – my parents’ home is no longer fully mine, but neither can I start building a home yet. I used to think that I wanted adventure, I wanted to go places. Nowadays, what I really want is a home – somewhere I feel is always mine, with someone who loves me. I used to think that I wanted a career. I had grand plans for going places, making a name for myself. Now I just want to build a home, cook for my husband, raise my kids. It’s strange how growing up changes our priorities…

I go back to school in about a month. I’m excited! I want to see my friends again. I have a crazy schedule this semester and I cannot wait to push myself again. But I dread it. I hate goodbyes. I’ll leave my little sister behind, missing her goofiness and the way she is always there for me. I’ll leave him behind and try not to stare wistfully at all the attached-at-the-hip couples at school. I’m torn in half – and I don’t see it changing for another few years. Sometimes growing up hurts….but I wouldn’t trade it. I just throw myself in and enjoy every moment I can.



I am not particularly brilliant. Being a homeschooler, there are two intellectual stereotypes: genius or fairly dumb. Obviously, stereotypes are extremely broad….there are plenty of homeschoolers who don’t fall into either of these categories. I am one. I am not a genius. I get decent grades, but I didn’t finish school early, win a spelling bee, or start a generation changing revolution (http://www.therebelution.com/, anyone?). Pretty much the only thing I am really good at is reading. Obsessively. And talking about reading. (my roommates are already tired of my passionate ranting about literary topics). Hence the English major.

A lot of my college classes right now are fairly easy. Lots of reading, some simple projects, a lot of staying on top of details. This is perfect for me. I read the chapter, look over the terms, and quiz or test fairly successfully. This is especially true of subjects like history, art appreciation, and speech. I wouldn’t say this is being smart…just happens to be my talent. However, some of my peers…seatmates, roommates, etc., work much harder at these classes than I do. Hours of studying, organized notecards, constant review. Unfortunately, some of them don’t test as successfully as I do. This causes several issues.
First, there is sheer guilt. When my grade is significantly higher than that of someone who has spent much more time agonizing over it than I have, I feel guilty. Logically, I know that I have no control over this and should not feel any guilt, but regardless, it is there.

The more awkward result is my consternation over what to say…this occurrence has left me paranoid about admitting my lack of preparation for anything, lest I do well. I am equally nervous about sharing my grades, reluctant to make someone else feel bad. Finally, I cannot ever express discontent with my own performance…if I got a B when I wanted an A, that sounds bad to someone who just wanted to pass. If I got an A minus when I wanted a nearly (or exactly) perfect grade, that just sounds ridiculous.

This leaves a very delicate balance to walk and I have not figured it out yet. How do I rejoice in my grades without making someone else feel bad? How to bewail my performance without sounding superior? I do not in any way feel like I’m better than someone who has to study harder for a grade….honestly, it makes me feel lazy, like I have it easy. I want to rejoice in the grades of others without them comparing their grade to mine and feeling bad. Suggestions anyone?