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If it’s looking particularly rough, you might want to start at the bottom of the list.

The Hell Week Library Packing List

Your Essential Hell Week Supplies

If it’s looking particularly rough, you might want to start at the bottom of the list.

By Amy Garcia, Johns Hopkins University


We never want it to arrive, but it always arrives much too soon.

It’s the one week of the year in which you somehow have four exams, fifteen papers and forty-seven school projects due, and whenever you start to think about the approach of hell week you have to fight the urge to pull your own hair out.

Aside from your typical finals week it only happens maybe twice a semester, but for some reason every one of your professors has decided to create a week that you physically cannot endure, a week on which horror movies should be taking notes, a week that you will survive solely on caffeine and the occasional piece of candy. You never think you will make it through—you pray for apocalyptic storms or a zombie outbreak to somehow end this nightmare—but you always come out on the other side, broken and beaten but alive.

The whole thing always seems like a blur—how did I start and finish a twenty-three page paper the night before it was due?—because it was so horrific that you cannot allow yourself to relive the experience. A classic symptom of PTSD.

There are ways, of course, that you can attempt to make this week a little less hellish. You will be living in the library for the next 160 hours, and you had best pack everything you’ve ever owned into your backpack, your purse, your luggage, your carry-on and your fanny pack because you will not be returning to your room until the week is over.

Here is a packing list for when you head out to your new home until the week is over.

1. Tissues

We all know you’ll be dabbing your eyes for the next 160 hours every time you remember how much you need to get done before your exams. Make sure you’re well stocked on at least five boxes of tissues to get you through this difficult time.
An alternate option is several rolls of toilet paper, as they double for tissues but can also be your emergency roll if the library happens to run out (a common occurrence, since thousands of undergraduates are living in what is essentially a makeshift prison).

2. Keurig

Who has time to go to the café? Save yourself the trouble and bring your own coffeemaker. You’ll save yourself the inevitable ten-minute break that will occur your friends force you into a conversation on the library steps, despite you having naively thought you were making a quick coffee run.

Supplies for coffee also means your own mug, milk, sugar and Keurig cups. You may want to include some different kinds of Keurig cups to spice up your life a little bit, so maybe throw in a java chip or two.

3. Curtains

You don’t want the natural light to disturb you while you’re in study mode. Your eyes shouldn’t be taking in anything other than the bright artificial lighting of your laptop.
Make sure to pack some curtains or a large sheet to block any sort of sunlight from seeping onto your sweaty, stressed-out face. If you feel any warmth on your skin at all, you are doing it wrong. Warmth makes you tired, tired makes you unproductive. Allow no sunshine to breach your barriers this week.

4. Pillow Pets

This actually serves two purposes. One: companionship. As you will not be socializing with anyone for the next couple days, you will need someone to keep you company. You can speak to your pillow pet.

The second purpose is for your allotted hour of sleep every twenty-three hours. You should probably bring an alarm clock too to make sure you don’t sleep any more than those sixty minutes. It is a common disaster to realize you slept for any healthy amount of time during hell week when you could have been awake, studying and crying at the same time.

5. Decorations

Remember, this is where you live now. You might as well make it feel like home with some posters, a few framed pictures to remind you of the family and friends you will not be seeing until next week, and maybe even some holiday lights to spruce the place up a little bit. This one’s your call though, as I would be out of line telling you how to decorate your house.

6. Human Blinders

Distracted by other humans, alarms and general sights in life that prevent you from working? If horses can use these blinders during their races, you can use them to avoid seeing anything that isn’t your notes.

The outside world is full of obstacles that will attempt to dissuade you from doing your work, and humans are weak creatures when it comes to desire. A fellow human walking by your cubicle may make you glance at him or her for only a second, and this can be dire to your work.

Invest in human blinders to prevent these common disasters. If you don’t already own a pair, you’re not doing this week right.

7. Hammer

Every time your phone rings, make sure you hit it with a hammer to punish it for distracting you. How dare anybody try to reach you this week? Don’t they know what you’re going through?

Before breaking your phone you should check who it is so you can remind yourself later to never speak to them again.

8. Life Coach

Hire someone well in advance to sit next to you this week and yell at you every time you look up from your notes. This person should preferably be frightening so as to discourage you from wandering eyes. You’ll probably find candidates on Tinder. (Note: This person will not be your friend. You have your Pillow Pet for that).

9. A Flask

You’re going to need it as soon as you hand in your final ScanTron.

10. A Tombstone

For when your hell week inevitably kills you.

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