Last week, I spent several days working on a final paper for one of my classes. One afternoon, when I was just about to dive into the writing process, a kid who lives on the same floor as me came sprinting down the hallway and into my room without warning. “Have you looked at the PWR1 classes offered next quarter yet???” he asked urgently. He pulled up the university website on my laptop and scrolled through the course listing. “LOOK LOOK LOOK AT THIS ONE,” he said as he reached over me and played a video embedded in the description of a class called The Feature Article: Writing and Change.
In the first five seconds of the video, a professor seated in a leather armchair before of a tall mahogany bookshelf stated that students in this class would learn how to use ‘Feature Articles’ to “transform their academic writing into vivid, brisk and engaging prose.”
My dormmate smacked the trackpad, instantly pausing the video. He looked at me with eyes wide and pointed at the computer screen. “I WANNA LEARN HOW TO TRANSFORM MY WRITING INTO VIVID AND BRISK PROSE!!!”
Yesterday, the topic of prescription drug abuse came up in a conversation I was having over text with a couple of friends from back home. Specifically, we were discussing the ethics surrounding the unprescribed use of academic performance-enhancing drugs, such as Adderall. My friends and I went back-and-forth virtually for a while, until I was eventually so intrigued by the ethical complex surrounding the topic that I decided to inquire about the opinions of my friends here at university.
Without knocking, I burst into my neighbors’ room. “Got a minute?” I asked.
For the next fifteen minutes or so, four of us took a break from studying to bounce ideas off of each other. It was intellectually stimulating and totally awesome.
Two combating views arose from the debate. The first was that taking Adderall, or any other form of drug whose purpose is to increase concentration, when not prescribed in order to improve academic performance on a test is comparable to taking steroids to improve physical performance in an athletic competition. Therefore, students who are not prescribed the drug, but take it anyways in an effort to improve academic performance are effectively cheating. The second view states that taking Adderall is simply another method students can use to improve their academic performance, just like athletes use methods like altitude training and protein-based diets to improve their physical performance. When it comes to taking performance-aiding substances for a test, the ends justify the means, and therefore taking Adderall for a test is not cheating.
It was clear that we had very different opinions. Regardless of this, however, we all listened with intention to each others’ arguments, thought critically about them, and challenged each other and ourselves to think about the issue in a new way.
Last night my roommate and I were perched on our beds, listening to French Info radio
as she programmed some type of computer code and I worked on my Communications content analysis. At around 11:30 PM, one of our dormmates came into the room and started jumping on our mini-trampoline. “You guys coming to midnight breakfast?” she asked.
I had nearly forgotten. The first Monday night of dead week, several dining halls around campus offer a free “midnight breakfast,” where students can take a break from the constant studying to indulge in a true desayuno continental, complete with muffins, bacon, eggs, hashbrowns, etc. etc.
I embarked into the winter cold with a group of about ten people to take part in the college tradition. To our dismay, however, the line at the dining hall was so long that it stretched outside the building and filled the entire entry lot. We all were dying for some late night grub, but we knew that we would be waiting in that line for an unjustifiable length of time with the amount of studying we had waiting for us back in our rooms. Sadly, we returned back to the dorms, our empty stomachs growing ever more vacant by the minute.
My peers headed back to my neighbor’s room, where we usually tend to congregate for late night study sessions, but I didn’t go back straight away. Instead, I grabbed the box of pancake mix and bag of chocolate chips I always keep on my shelf (in case of emergencies such as this of course,) and quickly whipped up a full batch of pancakes in the dorm kitchenette.
My friends’ instantaneous reactions when I brought two huge silver bowls of the sweet, fluffy treats into the study room and asked, “Who wants pancaaaakes?” filled with me a warm, fuzzy feeling I will never forget.
We spent the next few minutes apart from our computers, and for a moment managed to evade the stresses of our upcoming final exams. Through these magical pancakes, we were able to simply enjoy each others’ company and live in the present moment. (And as the school year quickly passes by, I know it’s upon moments like these that I will one day look back and smile.)
1Program in Writing and Rhetoric