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During reading days, typical Penn attire can range from shabby pajamas and sweats to swanky suits and evening gowns.

Although the University bills reading period as a time for studying, it is also during these three days that many Penn student groups, especially fraternities and sororities, schedule year-end formal events.

Some students say balancing formals with finals can be stressful, but most conclude that they're up to the challenge.

For College junior Melanie Foreman, nighttime formals break up daytime studying drudgery.

"You can get work done and still go out and have fun," she said.

Foreman, who attended a Sigma Nu fraternity formal Sunday night and a Penn Band formal the following evening, said she rearranged her study schedule to fit in the formals.

"It's a lot of fun. I just won't be having fun in the next [week] because of it," she said, looking ahead to her first exam on Thursday.

With three finals on Thursday and Friday and two formals at the beginning of the week, Nursing sophomore Jennifer Johnson said she planned to squeeze as much studying as possible into Tuesday and Wednesday.

"I'm at a pretty high stress level right now," she said.

Efforts toward maximizing her free time even forced Johnson to get some of her shopping done between classes.

"I took a final exam last Monday and ran downtown" to buy a dress before returning for another class, Johnson said.

Scheduling isn't always possible, however.

Foreman said that some students at the Sigma Nu formal came on only a few hours' notice.

"A lot of the girls just dropped whatever they were doing and went," she said.

But for some, time considerations are less pressing.

College freshman Alyssa Mendozaattended a Skulls fraternity formal Sunday evening and an Alpha Phi sorority formal on Monday.

"My first exam is next Monday, so I think [the formals] are great," she said. "I can get over writing all the papers from last week and worry about studying later." They're a good "stress-reliever," Mendoza said.

She said she had heard of students attending as many as three formals within a week-long span.

And reading days are the best time to schedule formals because they allow students the morning after to "sleep in," Mendoza noted.

Still, she encountered at least one person at the formal "who had an oral exam in Spanish the next morning at 9:30."

Foreman acknowledged a twinge of regret in her decision to temporarily skip out on studying for her formals.

"I felt guilty [Sunday night] when I was walking by everybody studying," Foreman said, noting the T-shirt-clad denizens of Bucks County Coffee.

But the guilt didn't last.

"It's just so nice being all dressed up. . I'll be stressed as hell [later] but it's worth it," she said.

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