Whether you’re finishing your last final or you’ve been on island time since Friday, the warm embrace of winter break is here. The longest span of time you’ll have without needing to pick up a job, winter break can be the most relaxing couple weeks of your whole year. This is how I’ve learned to make the most of my break so I’m ready for the hell of winter quarter.
Once fall finals are over, every college student is launched into almost a month of “free time.” Whether it’s your first break back from college or you’re a pro, I’ve found there are a few things you can do to make it go smoothly so you’re ready when it’s time to go back to school.
1. Restore The Balance
This year, I learned that balance doesn’t have to exist in every day and week, drilled into every hour. Instead, balancing all the things you want to do can happen over the course of a month.
There will be weeks and months where you academic and career pursuits take up more than they should in your ideal time allocation. This can translate into less sleep, less exercise, and less social time. The couple weeks in the run up to finals can be a really good example of this.
The beauty of break is that you can take all the time to do those things (sleeping a full 8 hours anyone?) that you had to compromise to succeed in those other pursuits. Many people try starting an exercise program for New Years, but I’ve found that keeping up with an exercise program through winter quarter requires starting as soon as fall finals are over. The same goes with eating healthy (as hard as that is over the holidays) and any other habits that fell to the side when finals tunnel vision sets in.
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2. Family Time
The first time you come home to visit since college started can be an adjustment for you and your family. As wonderful as family time can be, living at home again has its own unique set of challenges as you try to remember to ask to borrow a car, tell your parents where you’re going, or have them track what time you get back home.
Every family has its own set of rules and adjustments, so it’s really important to make sure you plan time you’ll spend with your family and work with them to figure out how to exist in the same space the way you want to. Winter break can be an awesome opportunity to get to know your parents as people, and connect with your siblings as the adult you are working on becoming (and want them to recognize).
3. Read Something For Fun
Reading for class can be a chore, and the idea of picking up a book during your precious vacation after trying to read a book a week is enough to make anyone’s skin crawl. However, after a few days of trying to absorb the spirit of Mary Berry through every episode of the Great British Baking Show on Netflix, you might have reached the state of relaxation necessary to pick up a book.
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I’ve found my perfect formula for winter break reading (and the books I’ve chosen for this year) is
- One book of poetry (The Sun and Her Flowers by Rupi Kaur)
- One book of fiction (World Without End by Ken Follet)
- One book related to my major (Hillbilly Elegy by JD Vance)
- One book for adult me (The Vanity Fair Diaries by Tina Brown)
Even if I don’t finish all of them, working my way through helps me get out of the academia mentality and generally fills me with energy to learn in the next quarter. It can also be a great way to spend that week when your friends aren’t home from college so you’re cooped up in your house.
If you’re spending break in your hometown, it can be so much fun to see the people from high school who were so important to you. I know there are always a couple friends that I try to make sure I see whenever I’m home. You might be growing in really different directions, but it can be so nice to get an outside perspective on anything that is happening at school.
It’s also so important to keep connected to your college friends. Whether you’re working on your snapstreaks or tagging them in memes, you’ll definitely make sure they know you miss them. If you’re lucky, you might have a friend who lives nearby. Without the stress of classes, winter break can be an awesome time to really get to know your p-set partners.
5. Apply for Jobs
If you don’t have your job lined up for next summer, now is the perfect time to dive into applications. Fix up your resume, schedule some informational interviews, and check out your school’s job board. When school picks up again, it can be really hard to find the time to write cover letters and applications so your best bet is to get as much as you can done over break!
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6. Learn Something New
If you have the energy and haven’t picked out books that are too hard, almost a full month of vacation is the perfect opportunity to get a new set of skills. In the last few days, I’ve spent a lot of time working on the blog and in the coming weeks will be teaching myself a little more HTML and CSS on CodeAcademy.
Winter break can be an awesome time to recover from the pain of finals and get excited about the quarter ahead. Between spending time with family and friends, there are so many ways to spend your time!
What is your favorite thing to do over break?