**finals ended about 3 weeks ago but figured I’d still post this*
There is always going to be the debate: which type of final is better? A paper or an exam? There are pluses and minuses for both. With an exam, you have to study hard leading up to it, but then it is over and done with in a couple of hours. You don’t necessarily know what the questions will be on an exam, so there is an inevitable element of surprise and fear. With a paper, you slave over crafting the best possible piece of work you can before the turn in date arrives. You have the questions or prompt you need, and the necessary resources are at your disposal.
Finals in Perú were absolutely no easier than finals at Holy Cross. This semester I had three final papers and an oral exam. While I was very nervous studying for and heading into my oral exam, it ended up going very well and I left feeling like a weight had been lifted off my chest. As a perpetual procrastinator, my biggest challenge this finals szn was that two of my papers were due on one day, and the next day I had my other paper due. While it is possible to write one paper the day before, it is not possible to write 3 extensive (high quality) papers in three days. I knew this going into the week. Of course, I still procrastinated. After 4 nights of barely any sleep, some chocolate, and too much coffee, all my finals were turned in. Pages and pages of Spanish words complete, it felt good to finish off the semester.
Yet this was not realllyyyy the end of paper writing. For Holy Cross students who study abroad in Perú, there is a required ICIP (Independent Cultural Immersion Project). This project requires students to immerse themselves in an activity, volunteer opportunity, or other cultural experience while in Perú. At the end of the semester, you have to present your experience and/or findings and write a final paper. As I attempted to get the paper done so I could be fully in vacation mode, I found that the combination of 6 months of life in Spanish and my true passion for my project made writing the final paper relatively easy.
Turning in this final paper allowed me to take a deep breath and say chau to this semester of schoolwork. It has been tough, but I have learned so much unique information that I could never get out of Holy Cross courses. This semester I learned about the complexity of Peruvian politics, society, and cultures. I expanded my anthropological perspective. I improved my ability to critically read in Spanish, as well as write strong academic papers in Castellano. In and out of the classroom, I learned and grew in ways I never have before. Just as with the final exam vs. final paper debate, there are pluses and minuses to study abroad. Study abroad is hard. Study abroad is a challenge. But study abroad is also an incredible opportunity to expand your mind, your perspective and your understanding of the world.