Beating the Ateneo Stress

MY COUSIN sighs and shakes his head. “When I was still in college,” he recalls, “I never stayed up an entire night for an exam or a project. That just didn’t work for me.” He must’ve noticed my sleepy eyes from pulling an all-nighter, so here he is with his usual I-sleep-early-when-I-was-in-college-are-kids-procrastinators-now line. It is hard to explain to him that times change, requirements are crazy these days, and really, it’s just an Ateneo thing.

When you are studying in the Ateneo de Manila University, you would know that the term “Hell Week” can be different for every person. Now as much as I do not want to use this term, it has become an undeniable part of the Ateneo culture to call it that—a week of sleepless nights and endless requirements, pure student torture that can only be moderated by countless cups of coffee and friends that share the same sentiments.

Hell Week in the Ateneo ironically isn’t just a week; it can be a day or a month also. Contrary to popular belief, it doesn’t appear only at the end of the semester; it’s like mushrooms, sprouting here and there. As you read this, someone may be cramming a five-page paper at the library while the person seated next to her is dozing off after sleeping late the night before.

No matter when Hell Week is for you, one thing is certain: you shouldn’t go through it unarmed. So here are five all-nighter must-haves for every student, may you be an Atenean like me or a student from the greener side of the pasture.

Laptop or no laptop, a student like me needs the perfect work desk for all my academic needs. Because we live in Laguna, my brother and I stay at a place somewhere near Ateneo and UP. It’s a studio-type room, so there really is no place for a study desk to fit anywhere, especially since our cousin also lives with us. It was a struggle to study in bed because the comfort of the pillows and blankets was just so inviting; both of us had to study outside to be productive. But that was then; everything has already changed since we bought the Multifunctional Portable Laptop Desk from cd-r king.

It is, as its name says, very portable. You can use it while comfortably seated in your car, sofa, bed, or on the floor—lightweight for carrying from place to place. Its height and angle can be adjusted for maximum comfort. Pretty much anyone can install it with no tools needed. It is designed for any laptop—may it be your Mac or a Notebook like mine. Finally—and I believe this sets it apart from any ordinary desks—it has a cooling system with a fan installed in it for laptops that easily overheat (like my brother’s).

I remember asking my brother to buy two of this, one for each of us.  Of course, that was inconvenient—considering it costs P680—so we just settled for one. But one is good enough; whether you need to finish typing that paper or reading your thick Philosophy readings, the desk is sure to deliver to any student needs.

Rating: [5 Patrick Stars]

The next item on the list is also the next most important thing—that is, if you want to keep your sanity intact in the midst of unending deadlines: internet.

Whenever I take a break from reviewing for an exam or writing a paper, I do one (or both) of two things: (1) I talk to a friend who is pulling an all-nighter like me through chat and/or (2) I surf the internet to check for Facebook and blog updates, e-mails, and tweets. I use the Globe Broadband Tattoo for my internet needs—mine’s in a clean, white stylish design. I bought it for only P1245, along with a prepaid kit automatically loaded with P100, equivalent to five hours of internet time.  This portable broadband uses a USB stick that works as a modem. It is crazy fast, if you are in the right location—you can experience speeds of up to 2 Mbps—but very slow when the signal is jammed. Reloading is the same as for regular prepaid SIM cards.

Aside from what is mentioned above, it can also be used for calls and sending text messages at regular cellular phone rates. The USB also has its own Micro SD holder for file storage. The only downside of this item that I could think of is the download size limit of 800 MB and its signal sensitivity. But overall, I love it, especially because for only P50, I can surf all I want for 24 hours, thanks to Globe’s SUPERSURF promo.

Rating: [4 Patrick Stars]

Every obsessive-compulsive person like me needs a planner to sort out the things that need to be done. Don’t you just hate it when you only remember a deadline already due the day after—or worse, the day itself!—just because you have forgotten to take note of it? The planner is the perfect buddy during cramming moments—who knows, maybe the paper you’re cramming for a night is not yet due ‘til the week after. Oops. Not this review.

Planners need not be expensive. Take mine for example. I bought it at the gift section of Landmark Trinoma for only P150—talk about cheap! But don’t judge me yet—no, I did not get a boring planner like the usual ones you can find in National Bookstore. If anything, my planner is nothing but cute, cute, cute! Entitled “My Favorite Scheduler”, it has all these cute doodles and drawings at the cover, back cover, and the inside pages. Sometimes I don’t want to write in it anymore—erasures do not give the cute (and great!) design any justice at all.

The words scribbled all over the planner may be in Engrish (meaning, sometimes the sentences just doesn’t make sense,) but who cares? It’s cute; move along now.

What I love most about it is that its pages are not specifically dated—I could use it ‘til 2012 if I’m not busy at all. Labeled only with days (as in Monday to Sunday), it is perfect for those idle weeks of practically nothing going on in your life (I’m looking at you, Summer). In addition to these pages, there are also ruled pages for notes and random thoughts—perfect for the writer in me!

It’s exclusively for girls, I know, but I’m sure even boys will agree that a planner this cheap is a great find!

Rating: [5 Patrick Stars]

I first heard of erasable pens when I was a high school senior: I’d always see our editor-in-chief use them all the time, it was just amazing. I never saw another person with these heavenly pens again until last Christmas, when my mom’s boss gave me a set for the holidays.  At first, I was disappointed when I saw it was just pens—my brother got a watch the Christmas before that, for crying out loud—but soon I found out it was the erasable pens I drooled over back in high school. What joy!

Pens are important because, well, they’re pens. Erasable or not, they are absolutely student must-haves. I got the Pilot FriXion Point 04 Gel Ink Pens, in a five-color set. I think it isn’t sold here in the country yet, but eBay says it costs approximately P458.

In pink, light blue, orange, apple green and violet, these colors are lovely in the eyes. The pen is as fine as 0.4mm, just the way I like my Pilot pens to be. It has a special rubber end to rub the thermo sensitive ink away—no eraser dusts, just a clean sheet of paper with the ink nowhere to be found!

I have not tried this out yet, but other reviews say that when refrigerated below -10 Celsius, the ink will actually reappear like magic! My only problem with these pens is that, in the long run, the rubber end doesn’t erase cleanly anymore. I don’t know if it’s because of how I use it or if it really is bound to happen sooner or later—the reviews I have read did not mention problems similar to mine.

Rating: [4 Patrick Stars]

Last, and definitely not the least, is everyone’s favorite all-nighter buddy: The Coffee. I don’t think anyone in his right mind will order more than one Starbucks coffee to accompany him through a night full of papers and exam review sheets—and this is where instant, 3-in-1 coffee sachets come in. My current favorite is NESCAFÉ’s 3-in-1 Brown N’ Creamy, for only six pesos per sachet. It tastes like the ordinary NESCAFÉ 3-in-1, only creamier and tastier. In every cup I can almost taste the battle between Coffee and Cream in my mouth—Cream always wins. The product description in Nestle’s website says it’s “the delicious blend of NESCAFÉ, creamer and distinct sweetness of brown sugar.” As its endorser Coco Martin puts it: YUMMY!

Rating: [5 Patrick Stars]

Armed with these five items, go forth and face that thick pile of readings and that five-page paper, because they will be of great use and help for the long nights that are yet to come.

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4 thoughts on “Beating the Ateneo Stress

  1. Naku teh! Hell Week ka diyan, dapat, Heaven Week, kasi mas napapakapit ka kay Lord for strength. :))

    Anyway, I think that’s distinctly unique sa school niyo, week. Sa amin kasi, depende talaga sa subjects na kinukha mo per term. May time I only get an average of 3 hours of sleep everyday, because I read 60 pages per night, and that ran for 12 weeks. 2 weeks, haharapin mo naman gumawa ng paper. Pero may times na super luwang ng term, at yun yung term na nagshift ako. :))

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