When I Grow Up

He grinned at me from atop my desk, and I burst into giggles. “Oh, wow!”, I exclaimed. I snatched up the stuffed T.Rex to examine him further; his stubby arms, long tail, and reptilian eyes.

“I’m glad you like it,” said my husband. “I thought you could use a present.”

“Yeah, he’s great!”, I replied happily as I marched the toy around on my desk.

When I was a child, if someone asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up I would reply, “I want to dig up dinosaur bones!” I would spend hours in my backyard digging holes and dragging whatever I found into the house: old bottles, interesting rocks, and sometimes even bones, which I was convinced had once belonged to some ancient creature. My parents were encouraging; I owned countless dinosaur picture books and toys, a chemistry set and a rock collection.

When I grew older, my mother would often take my brother and me to the Natural History Museum on the University of Michigan campus. I would stare in open mouth wonder at the articulated skeletons of dinosaurs and mammoths and stare dreamily at the dioramas of ancient landscapes and their inhabitants. It was in this same museum that I discovered what came to be my obsession geology. I would press my face against the glass cases, marveling at the museum’s rock and mineral collection. I wondered how these things that were not living could grow with such perfection and beauty. I was always allowed to pick out a few rocks from the gift shop to add to my collection, which I still own.

T.Rex is keeping me company here on my desk as I study for finals. He reminds me that I’m doing this for that little girl who loved to play in the dirt and and stuff her pockets with rocks.

Time to Redefine Dead Week

I’ve been trying to memorize chemical formulas of minerals for the past three hours. (Ca,Na)(Mg,Fe,Al)(Si,Al)2O6…. My eyes are glazing over. I rest my forehead on my notebook and sigh. How am I ever going to remember all of this by Monday?

When I was attending a school on the semester system, our “Dead Week” was just that – a week without classes that was intended to allow us to prepare for exams and write papers. When I first came to PSU, I heard people refer to Dead Week and assumed that it was the same as on a semester system. I was shocked when I realized that wasn’t the case. Finals during my first term were a very stressful experience. I was angry and frustrated that I was expected to learn new material while reviewing the material from the rest of the term.

Since that first term, I’ve gotten used to how finals on the quarter system work, but I still find it unfair. If an exam is worth such a significant portion of our grade, shouldn’t we be given adequate time to prepare? Obviously, making each term one week longer would shorten our summer break, but there is a six-week break between the end of summer term and fall term as is.

What do you think? Would you rather have an actual Dead Week or are things fine as they are?