Despite the multiple finals and projects that stand in the way of semester break, there is a light at the end of the tunnel. Almost a whole month without classes awaits, in which there are plenty of opportunities to catch up with friends and family and on sleep and television shows that might have been put aside throughout the semester. Break is the perfect time to do things you want to do that you normally can’t in the middle of the semester. It can also be a time during which you lose your momentum for school, making it an important opportunity to stay in practice while also taking some time for yourself.
For me, even Thanksgiving break was tough to come back from, as I had a week off of classes and a few days off of work. I immediately became used to not having classes and things to do, which made it difficult to come back for another two weeks of the semester. With a whole month of time off coming up, I intend to spend some of it relaxing and watching movies and shows I have missed out on this semester. But I also want to make sure I do not get too used to not doing anything productive over the break.
This break is the perfect opportunity to do some reading that you might have always wanted to do, like thumbing through some literature classics or popular fiction that you don’t get the time for or have the energy to read throughout the semester. Or spend some amount of time writing each day, whether it’s simple journal entries or blog posts. Writing can help you formulate your thoughts and help you keep in practice for the next semester, even if this writing is not academic. Spending time doing a couple of practice questions a week can also keep you busy and has the added bonus of no pressure since it is not required for class.
Remember that after graduation, we will rarely have long periods off without work. Even for those going into teaching, breaks might be filled with grading papers, lesson planning and completing your own research. Therefore, to better prepare for the world outside of the college bubble, staying somewhat busy over break is important. It might not be as vital if you are in your early years of school, but I feel it is important to keep myself busy over break because I will graduate at the end of this school year and find myself in a full time job year round. It also will hopefully provide me time to study for my upcoming licensure exam. It is a good time to study for any other upcoming tests because there is not the added pressure of other looming school projects, tests, papers and reading that can take away from study time during the semester.
While staying active over break is important, it is just as crucial to relax and do some well deserved and needed self-care. This does not only mean the kind of self-care that involves adult coloring books and sleeping in late every day, but also taking care of yourself by going to doctor’s appointments, especially if your doctor is in your hometown, who you can only visit during big breaks between semesters. Although it sucks to wake up early for that appointment for your six month dental cleaning, you will thank yourself later because you won’t have to worry about it again for a while. In a few years, you will also be thankful that you kept up with this stuff when you were young.
This particular break is short enough that you might not feel out of practice from classes and school work when classes resume in January, but it also might be adequate time to feel like you didn’t get enough work accomplished. I think that finding a good balance between staying active and relaxing can help make coming back into the semester easier, especially for those who are already experiencing some senioritis. I have certainly caught it and I am looking forward to graduating at the end of the next semester.
Abby is a graduate bioethics and social work student.