Written by Kristi Rolf
As we come to the end of an accelerated semester, college students throughout the country are facing a historically long break between semesters. Here at Roanoke College, we will have seven long weeks without classes. The next couple of months have prompted mixed emotions. The first thought that occurs to many of us is “what a relief!” Students and faculty alike are experiencing burnout after a semester without a fall break, so a long hiatus seems like a welcome reprieve. However, many students like me may be feeling apprehensive about spending multiple months at home after the independence of college life. How can we take advantage of this time so that we feel productive and maintain good spirits throughout winter break?
Fortunately, we have experience with unexpectedly long periods of time at home to draw on. Eight months ago when colleges across the country shut down, we had to adapt suddenly to being in a place we weren’t planning to be. As difficult as the subsequent months have been, I learned a few lessons that we can apply to our time at home this winter.
First of all, taking up a new hobby can give you exciting goals to strive for. When I got home in March, I could sense myself getting depressed and decided to take on a challenge: learning to run outside for exercise. I was literally terrified at the idea of running in public, without a treadmill to keep my pace. When I first took up the challenge, I couldn’t even run half a mile without a break. But in August, I reached a milestone that I never thought possible: I ran two consecutive miles without a break. I was still extremely slow, but the feeling of empowerment was unmatched. Once the fall semester began, I fell out of this habit quickly but I’m planning to take it up again during winter break.
Another piece of advice for the upcoming season is to consider re-igniting an old passion. For me, this passion is reading. I was a voracious reader as a child but the responsibilities of high-school and college gradually eroded my desire to read. After I finished my final exams in April, I picked up a few books that I had been meaning to read for a long time. I was soon reminded of the simple happiness reading a good book can bring. Most of the reading I’ve done in the past few years was assigned for homework so it felt great to read just because I wanted to. Perhaps your old passion is something different, like painting pictures, making music, or learning a language. Whatever it may be, there is something beautiful about resurrecting a part of your past-self and integrating it into your present.
To all Maroons, enjoy this well-earned break and I hope that you are able to find fulfillment during it!