Finals Period (aka Study Breaks Galore!)

My finals period is always sweet and sour since my birthday always falls during this time.  However, I only had two finals this past semester, which made it awesome!  Essentially, my calendar was absolutely booked with study breaks.  At Rice, both the university and residential colleges plan study breaks to ensure maximum procrastination with minimum stress by the students (at least that’s why I think they have them…).

The biggest study break is the President and Dean’s study break.  A couple days before finals actually start, the university holds a huge study break filled with lots of free food and entertainment.  This year’s offered bagel pizzas, gyros, tater tots, mac n cheese, smoothies, fresh fruit, sodas, ice cream sundae station, coffee, cookies, and more to enjoy while being entertained by the Rice Symphonic Band, SpoCo (our Rice improv group that made it to nationals!), and the Phils (our Rice acapella group).  There was also a fudge sale and holiday card making station to benefit Texas Children’s Hospital as well as four huge projector screens for classic Mario Kart matches!  Oh, and did I mention free massages? Outside of sponsoring that huge university study break, the president and his wife also hosted the entire senior class at his house for a Senior Holiday Party.  My friends and I loved getting all dressed up and enjoying a “grown-up” party with our class!

Posing in front of the Hanszen Christmas tree with some of my roommates at the Hanszen Senior Holiday Party!

We also had a Hanszen Senior Holiday Party (Hanszen being my residential college) the night before filled with drinks, hors dourves, a white elephant exchange, and games.  But this was only one of many that Hanszen hosted.  Our masters and RAs made sure to have a study break everyday of finals!  This included: the Amazing Race study break, a poker tournament, late-night breakfast, ice skating, bowling, Monday Night Football study break, cinammon rolls and hot chocolate study break, and much more (if you can believe it!).  One of my favorites is the Liam and Merry Super Awesome study break: Liam and Merry, 7 and 4 years of age, are our master’s children and love hosting this study break filled with coloring books, a disney movie, cookie-decorating, and board games!

With all these study breaks I’m not quite sure how I managed to study…I guess I only had two tests to study for so that definitely helped! It did turn out that one of my finals was on the night of my 22nd birthday, but my friends were great and threw a party in our room after it ended for me!  So all in all, it was a pretty fun finals period, and the studying really wasn’t that bad…

Getting in the Holiday Spirit!

Our Hanszen crest with holiday decorations.

So Houston isn’t exactly known for its incredibly cold winters, and for many northerners, this makes it hard to get into the Holiday Spirit.  I am actually from Houston originally, so average highs of 65 will make me want to hibernate indoors.  Regardless, with finals looming and everyone busy putting together their final projects or papers, it’s easy to forget that this time of year is actually celebrated by those outside the hedges (Rice is surrounded by hedges, so anything “outside the hedges” is our way of saying outside of the Rice bubble).  At Hanszen College, though, we have many ways to remind people to de-stress and enjoy this time of year.

This started with Hanszen’s Thanksgiving.  Our servery staff in coordination with our H-Team (our Masters, RAs, and College Coordinator) organized a family-style thanksgiving in our commons.  We usually go into the servery, pick a plate, put what we want in it (it’s an all-you-can-eat servery), come out to the commons, and sit with our friends.  Instead, they had big serving dishes of mashed potates, turkey (perfectly cooked!), ham, sweet potatoes, green bean casserole, and more out on each of the tables, which were covered in lovely tablecloths.  We sat at our tables and were lucky enough to be able to enjoy a nice “family” thanksgiving (complete with “pass the ____, please!”) the week before actual thanksgiving!

"Snow" decorating the outside of our commons.

After Thanksgiving break, our ambiance committee went all out to decorate our commons with two study breaks. Each college has its own assortment of committees that they fund to complete tasks for their college.  One of our committees is our ambiance committee, and in this case, they used some of their budget to buy holiday decorations for Hanszen!  The first study break had cookies, eggnog, cider, and Christmas music playing outside while whoever wanted (all Hanszenites are invited to help!) put up lights around the hedges on our quad, decorated the outside of our commons with “snow,” and more.  Our second decorating study break actually took place a couple days ago!  A group of Hanszenites went to go chop down a huge Christmas tree Friday, and Saturday was the tree-decorating study break.  Complete with Holiday music once again, a group of Hanszenites made it out to decorate the tree with blue and yellow decorations (blue and yellow are Hanszen’s colors).  Take a look!:

Our Hanszen Christmas tree decorated in our colors: blue and yellow!