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Editorials

Editorial Snippets: Midterm Malaise

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Earlier this semester, our Editorial Board rejoiced in the fact that we had finally reached a new normal. Yet even as we shed mandatory masking and thrice-weekly testing, we were unable to eliminate midterms and other fall staples. As we prepare for a seemingly-endless barrage of exams and papers, we asked our members to reflect on this season with humor while also capturing the unique sentiment of a cohort experiencing the full renaissance of “normal” student life.

What October cliché are you least — or most — looking forward to?

I’m looking forward to the way everything looks in the fall — it’s just such a pretty season. There’s a tree in bloom on Plympton street, across from the building where the publication you’re reading was crafted: The tree is red, yellow, and orange and the leaves are big. The tree has started to shed. Every time I walk by 14 Plympton St., I look first at the building and then the tree; I’m reminded of some fundamental truths — autumn in Cambridge is beautiful, and there will always be people in 14p.

—Shanivi Srikonda ’24

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I like the red and green and yellow leaves. They remind me of home — of my mom, saying, “Oh, Sterling! Aren’t the leaves beautiful?” It is my senior fall, and in some ways, things are as fresh as first year. Some relationships are re-invigorating, some are forming anew. Some remain, some fall away. I’m learning to be OK with it all, to let the leaves fall and grow again, where they may.

—Sterling M. Bland ’23

I expect to see every single one of you go all out for Halloween. I’m talking fake blood by the bucketful, mechanical arms powered by tiny servos, or rhinestone-studding every inch of visible skin. Give me drama! Halloween is the one night (or series of nights, for us college students) of the year when it’s acceptable to do anything you want with your physical form — as long as it’s not boring.

—Christina M. Xiao ‘24

Fall means pies! With October in full sway, it is now time to eat as many pies as you want. From the classics like pecan pie to the random everything-but-the-kitchen-sink pies, it is now the most socially acceptable time to eat pie for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. This is the one delicious, classic cliché that I am most excited about.

—Hea Pushpraj ’25

Known for spooky season, apple-picking, and beautiful foliage, October epitomizes my love for the fall. It’s finally socially permissible to break out my Timbs and laugh at the horde waiting inside Starbucks for their pumpkin-spiced lattes (you know who you are). Plus, the weather inspires the hardest fits. October has everything to deem it the best month, but I refuse to call it such: slandered by its most infamous alias, cuffing season never fails to make me gag. Between couple’s costumes and pumpkin patch dates, nothing makes me want to inspire a horror movie more. Call me a hater, but this cliché has to go. You don’t actually like that person – it’s just October.

— Maia Patel-Masini ’25

October is the best month of the year. Not only does the cold weather make us stronger, but it’s a month for sweaters and screenings of “It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown.”

— Brooks B. Anderson ’25

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There’s nothing quite like the betrayal of a rain-dampened leaf masquerading as something crunchy — a stomp-able entity. Coming from California, where October is dry to the point of destruction, these soft, two-faced leaves were a new species to me. But even now, three autumns later, my boot still seeks out every promising leaf on the walk to class. The fallen foliage, blending like sunset on the Cambridge sidewalks, is too inviting not to.

—Eleanor V. Wikstrom ’24

Every October, the windows of The Crimson’s Sanctum come alive with a mosaic of red, orange, and fading green leaves from the tree in the courtyard across the street. Usually, the tree reminds me of my favorite fall traditions to come: birthdays, big sweaters, warm drinks, and eventually snow. This year, it’s a pesky landlord reminding me that my residence within the four walls of The Crimson is almost at a close.

—Raquel Coronell Uribe ’22-’23

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What’s one thing sustaining you through this midterms season?

Midterm season means tiny treats around every corner. Stopping to steal the last few Earl Grey Tea packets in Winthrop’s dining hall before heading across Kaneb courtyard to cozy up with my laptop for a handful of hours. A packet of peanut M&Ms from the nearest vending machine. A cafe au lait from Clover in between my 9 and 10:30 a.m. sections — and (if I’ve really earned it) another one before lecture at 1:30. Don’t worry about the caffeinated chihuahua shake, it’ll pass.

—Haley A. Lifrieri ’24

The end of September means the end of Capital One Café’s 50 percent off deal and the beginning of October and haunting midterms. I’ve always hated coffee, but to sustain this undead status for midterms, I came to love coffee: to wake myself up to study, to keep studying, and to distract myself from studying for half an hour. But without the sale, I cannot pay full price for a mediocre (and colorfully inconsistent) chai latte. Now I await the return of Starbucks in Harvard Square in November — if I am paying $6 for a coffee, it better be good.

—Brian Baltazar Pimentel ’23

Copious volumes of iced coffee and daily references to my “Days Until Thanksgiving Break” countdown.

— Gracia A. Perala ’25

I have recently discovered two things that have made my midterm season much more bearable: 1) Dumplings are one of the best foods to ever exist and 2) Dumpling Kitchen is open until 2:15 a.m. (at least according to Uber Eats). After a long night in Lamont (and I’m talking long-long — Social Studies readings can be brutal), trudging back to my dorm room tastes a bit sweeter when I’m met with a beautiful brown bag of dumplings in front of the Kirkland gates.

—Nicole B. Alexander ’24

As I trudge through midterm season, there is nothing I look forward to more than going to sleep after a long day of studying. The stress-induced fatigue of academic pressure or soothing relief after finishing a paper or exam makes the dreamless rest all the better. Even though midterms are relentless, and the rising sun just shines a light on a new set of assignments, the precious hours of sleep are exactly what I need to get through another day. Plus, it’s almost December anyway — right?

—Libby E. Tseng ’24

I took a break for the long weekend and went to Disney with my dad: I photosynthesized and savored every sip of my iced lattes. As a self proclaimed cold-blooded human, I knew I’d return to hot lattes as soon as my plane landed back in Massachusetts (my fall-midterms season is unofficially sponsored by vanilla lattes). Post-trip, I’m feeling stressed, but refreshed, and ready to pull some all-nighters.

—Abigail V. Mack ’25

Walks across the Yard, skirting between tables to chat with friends in Kirkland dining hall, traversing up the stairs of Smith Campus Center to find a cozy nook to study in for the afternoon — these are my pockets of peace.

Movement throughout the day lets me catch a breath, slow down, and appreciate the fleeting moments. Whether I am three hours deep into an intensive organic chemistry exam review or exhausted beyond measure from a dance practice that ended at midnight, I always find time to slip into the common room and share a laugh with my roommates or trek to a swinging chair in the courtyard for a Facetime check-in with my brother. And with that, the shadow of midterms subsides, and all is well.

—Alvira Tyagi ’25

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As much as red spiced chicken and brain break help, it’s really solidarity with friends that keeps me going through midterms — that is, solidarity in exhaustion and abject dread about deadlines and exams.

—Lucas Gazianis ’24

Compartmentalization has kept me together. Midterm season (arguably the second half of the semester in its entirety) has a tendency to upend plans I made for the semester. Not this time though! I am actively trying to set boundaries between the different parts of my life. I structure preparing for my midterms around my week, and not my week around my midterm. Having midterms doesn’t mean everything else in my life has to pause. It isn’t the easiest thing to do but I continually find new ways of compartmentalizing.

—Joshia Ochieng ’24

Sheer inertia has kept me going this midterm season. There’s a thousand things that make me happy (certain friends, home-cooked meals in my new kitchen, the right smile from the right person, and this board in particular) and a couple thousand that don’t (midterms, tripping on the same stone twice, little sleep, seeing closeness twisted into distance). Throughout it all, nothing has kept me going but the knowledge that I was already going — that I’m on track to get my degree, that I wake up every day in a Harvard dorm, with views to a Harvard library to a bunch of Harvard emails reminding me of my Harvard work. That to not keep going would require more effort than to merely follow through.

Maybe that’s what keeps all of us on track: We are already here, following a fenced, carefully crafted crimson path. Whether that’s good thing, or just the execution of pre-programmed days, I’m not quite sure.

—Guillermo S. Hava ’23-’24

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