How to survive winter exams

Elmie Janse van Rensburg

I’m one of those eternal undergrads. I’ve been around on campus for a while.  For instance, when I was in my first year ‘Wrecking Ball’ by Miley Cyrus was still playing on the radio. Yep, radio.  Although I’m on my way out, I am technically a sixth year. I just need to finish off this sneaky thesis.

In my many years of trawling across ANU campus, going from one semester to another and another and another… I learnt a few things (well hopefully more than a few). Most importantly, I’ve definitely learnt how to survive my share of study “vacations” and winter exams.

So take it from one wise, forever-asking-annoying-question-in-class, ‘mature’ age student.

Here’s how to survive your winter exams:

  1. Know your sources

And I don’t mean references. If you’re like me and can’t study in sight of your bed (sleep is life), you’re going to be on campus a lot.

Here’s where to get nutrients (hah), caffeine, and sugar from inside and nearby the science precinct:

  • The Little Pickle: one of the few cafes on campus that’s been around longer than me. Tucked away in the Linnaeus building, there’s lots of space to study and they do great sandwiches and pastries.
  • Coffee Grounds: home to the hipsters before Kambri, Coffee Grounds is also a faithful watering hole and even tend to extend their opening hours during exam time. Great outdoor benches for when you need to beat that study-induced vitamin D deficiency.
  • Joseph’s café: some people still don’t actually know it exists, but there’s a little café with a huge amount of workspace in the new Wright Hall. They also do student discounts (and are actually open to the public, even if it doesn’t look like it).

And of course, Kambri.

Joseph's Cafe

Joseph's Cafe

  1. Pick your hidey-hole

Like the ANU campus in general, the Science precinct has got some brand new tucked-away spots where you can set up camp. Here are a few of my favourites:

  • Hanna Neumann: the upper 2-3 floors have cute booths, a kitchen on each floor, fridges, and lots of natural light. Did I mention it’s got a cool Scandi vibe?
  • Engineering: an oldy but a goldie. Expect comfy booths, lots of whiteboards, and to see the same people for 24 hours in a row.
  • Peter Baume labs: don’t tell anyone I told you, but the labs on the ground floor for Peter Baume are actually open 24 hours for all science students. There’s a kitchen upstairs, but most importantly the desks go up and down. You can DANCE while you study (or just have less of a sore back).

That’s as much as I’m ready to share until I’ve graduated.

Scandi AF: inside the Hanna Neuman Building

Scandi AF: inside the Hanna Neuman Building

  1. Back to basics

Don’t forget the goods.

No amount of study is going to help you in an exam if you’ve forgotten your ID card or your calculator.

Here’s my exam time version of ‘watch/ wallet/ keys’: ID card/ clear pencil case (or gladwrap bag)/ pencil and eraser/ calculator (the right type)/ water bottle.

Lip balm and tissues optional ;-)

  1. Forget about fashion

This is it.

This one of the only times in your life that you can walk on campus in your, pyjamas, uggies, favourite trackies or even a onesie.Everyone is too exhausted to judge you so dress comfortably.

A student writing in a forest

Me just casually studying in a random forest. Thanks Science at ANU

  1. Don’t do it alone

You don’t need to be a scientist to know that working in groups is good for you. For better or worse humans are social beings, and I promise you that midnight cram sesh will be far more bearable with some new  course-mates and a pizza.

They might even become some of your fondest memories of university!

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