This week is Fall Finals, the week marking the largest transition (to date) away from college. A couple good friends are leaving Luther for their final undergraduate semester, for which they will be scattered between Minnesota and Iowa in their student teaching placements. I have had a meal with each of my closest to-be-teachers to celebrate their upcoming transition from student to teacher(/student). Normally the transition to Christmas Break is one part stress (of finals) and one part joy (to go home or hang out with friends); the sadness of leaving gets pushed to the back of my mind. This year I feel the sadness of leaving already. The emphasis on a sad emotion comes in large part because I’m living with my five best friends and other close perma-houseguests, two of whom are leaving to student teach, and I still need to split time between job searching, application writing, working on my senior project, and continuing to communicate with my roommate, parents/brother, and other family while spending Christmas break with my significant other’s family.
I’m intrigued at the emphasis on stress from the larger culture of Luther, simultaneously contrasted with messages that we are to be happy at the upcoming birth of Jesus Christ. As my senior project centers around atheists at college, I’m more aware of the Christian messages that permeate campus. One large contradiction came from Christmas at Luther: a concert showing off performers’ musical skill after practices and rehearsals that stressed their fingers, vocal chords, and cooperation for paying patrons (mainly family and alumni) while attempting to convey a message that we’re collectively offering this musical event as joy to God for sending us Jesus as a baby king. Another contradiction: Joyful, anticipatory waiting for Christmas (and a break from school) while piling on stress for professors and students alike through emphasizing final assignments and finals. Are students supposed to focus on their Christian lives when we’re desperately trying to keep on top of homework and projects and papers and finals and saying goodbye-until-commencement? Are there models of education that smooth the transitions to breaks so as to make them less stressful and sleep-depriving for all involved parties?