Fifteen tips for enjoying two months of winter break

We survived the semester … but now we have to survive a two-month winter break. For all those fellow students disoriented by the complete lack of academic pressure and struggling to cope with the vast amount of free time, I’ve assembled a list of fun, COVID-19-friendly activities to partake in during the break. Some pursuits are even productive — when someone asks: “What did you do over the break?” there won’t be that awkward silence as you scramble to remember something you did besides browsing Swampy Memes and binging Netflix.

“when someone asks: “What did you do over the break?” there won’t be that awkward silence as you scramble to remember something you did besides browsing Swampy Memes and binging Netflix.”

  1. Swap Spotify playlists with friends. Not only is this an enjoyable way to bond and stay connected over the break, but it’s also a great way to discover some new bops. You may be surprised by how much you have in common. If your taste in music is so different that it pains you to listen to your friend’s playlist, you may not have discovered songs you’d like to listen to in your free time, but you’ve learned more about your friend in the process. After all, you don’t really know your friends until you find out they’re into heavy metal or an oddly specific music genre like medieval folk rock.
  2. Zoom movie night with a friend. It doesn’t beat being in person, of course, but a movie night with a friend can be fun. You can bring your own snacks and popcorn, hot cocoa and other festive treats and type snarky comments about the movie into the Zoom chat. A reliable internet connection, though, is vital for streaming a Zoom movie, and from personal experience, I recommend watching a movie that’s not very fast paced, just in case someone has a slower internet connection. With extremely action-oriented movies, an internet glitch can make comprehension of a split-second event difficult.
  3. Have you been interested in learning a new language but haven’t found the time? Now’s a fine time to start. Whether you’re interested in Spanish, French, German, Arabic or any other language, a plethora of apps and online services can jumpstart your language journey. Maybe you’re interested in more obscure languages like Old English, Middle Egyptian (hieroglyphs), or Viking runes — if that’s the case, Amazon offers some great books for beginners.
  4. Try writing a novel. If that sounds intimidating (or like too much work), consider writing a short story, a poem or a song. Consider writing an academic essay on a subject you’re passionate about but never had the opportunity to explore in class. Flex those creative muscles and don’t be afraid of failure — if you don’t like the end product, no one has to know.
  5. This is similar to the Spotify playlist swap, but instead of music, swap favorite books. Read a friend’s favorite book and then partake in an informal book discussion. For all of those who miss Book Club and love literary criticism, this may be the activity for you.
  6. Take up a new hobby. Perhaps try DIY crafts, adult coloring books, drawing, calligraphy, painting, scrapbooking, yoga, meditation, running or origami — the possibilities are endless.
  7. Create or update your LinkedIn profile and make connections with new friends, colleagues, classmates, etc. Search TribeCareers for potential internships, jobs and volunteer experiences for the spring semester and summer.
  8. Want to visit a museum but can’t due to stay-at-home restrictions? Consider taking a virtual museum tour. The British Museum, the Louvre, the Guggenheim, the Getty, the Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Gallery of Art and Musée d’Orsay, as well as many others across the globe, are offering online tours for art lovers interested in viewing famous works from the comfort — and safety — of the couch. For animal lovers who want to see a virtual zoo, check out the livestream cameras of the San Diego Zoo to view tigers, polar bears, elephants, giraffes, koalas, penguins, hippos, platypuses and other adorable animals playing.
  9. Browse all of the College’s 508 student organizations on TribeLink to see if there’s a club you missed and would like to join next semester, or even next year. If there’s a club you would like to see that doesn’t exist, consider starting one.
  10. If you’re reading this article, you’re already on track for this one: consider perusing various publications of the College. Current and previous issues of The Flat Hat, Flat Hat Magazine, Acropolis Art Journal, DoG Street Journal, The Gallery, Winged Nation, ROCKET Magazine and others can be found for free online. See TribeLink for the full list of student publications and check out each group’s Instagram to find links to the publications. Not only is this a way to pass time, but it also allows you to explore the works of fellow students and friends.
  11. Do some holiday cooking for family. Cooking is a very practical life skill, and one which many college students lack — be the exception. Baking cookies and pies is an enjoyable way to spend time and, best of all, produces a delicious — though, objectively, not very healthy — result.
  12. Reach out to friends and acquaintances you haven’t heard from in a while. It’s often enjoyable to catch up and hear how people are doing. Maybe even go wild — email a former high school teacher or camp counselor from back in the day.
  13. Take a free online course. Harvard offers 105 completely free classes on a variety of subjects, including Computer Science, Ancient World Literature, Probability, Shakespeare, Anatomy, Neuroscience, Philosophy and Public Policy.
  14. Catch up on badly needed sleep.
  15. Stay organized. Clean and redecorate your room, organize your closet, go through your Inbox and delete old, unwanted pictures and apps from your phone. Consider buying a 2021 planner and write in important dates for next semester. Creating decorative binder covers for next semester’s binders can be fun, although it does serve as an unfortunate reminder that classes will begin eventually. But to look on the bright side, at least when classes begin, we won’t have to deal with the struggle of not having enough to do.

J.R. Herman is a Confusion Corner columnist who is writing to stay busy (and sane) during the ten-week break. Email J.R. at jcherman@email.wm.edu.

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JR Herman ’24 is planning on double majoring in Classics and Marketing. In addition to being an Associate Variety Editor, JR serves as Managing Editor of Flat Hat Magazine. Outside of her duties at Flat Hat, JR is involved with the Alan B. Miller Entrepreneurship Center where she works as Communications Program Coordinator, as well as several other campus organizations, including Classics Club, Women in Business, the Gallery literary magazine and yearbook. In her free time, she enjoys nature photography, curling up with a book, baking sweet treats and listening to French music on Spotify.

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