Ian Ha ‘24 is a philosophy major and potential sociology major from Fairfax County, VA. In his free time, Ian enjoys swimming, reading sci-fi novels, and watching movies. He is excited to join the Flat Hat this year and support a great publication on campus. Email Ian at email@example.com.
The views expressed in the article are the author’s own.
Now that clubs and classes have returned to a mostly in-person format this semester, students have realized that their schedules require a little more involvement than last year. With workloads piling up and deadlines nearing, college can start to feel like too much. More than ever, I think that it’s important to take the time to pause and allow ourselves a momentary reprieve before the end of the semester. Thankfully, we just had fall break and are only a couple weeks away from Thanksgiving, which makes this a great time to reflect on school breaks and the best way to spend them.
This semester marks a return to normalcy in terms of school schedule, with “spring break days” being replaced by longer, more substantial breaks. While they weren’t as terrible as last fall’s condensed schedule, which really just condensed our collective stress levels, spring break days were an unpopular departure from the regular week off for spring break. Although those spring break days were helpful in allowing us to catch up on our schoolwork, we should remember that this is not the purpose of breaks. Rather than allowing us time to catch up on homework or study for an upcoming test, breaks should be used for activities (or a lack thereof) outside of school.
Despite having longer breaks now, students continue to stress over coursework and extracurriculars during their time off. Even though the academic stress culture at the College of William and Mary makes burdening ourselves with extracurriculars and credits feel like a necessity, that shouldn’t affect students’ wellbeing as a result. This is not to tell students that they should just drop all their classes and organizations and pursue less demanding schedules; that’s about as helpful as telling students to just “have less stress.” Instead, I think we should practice the mentality that health, both physical and mental, takes precedence over academics.
It’s important to spend school breaks doing something other than stressing about school. I spent fall break visiting family back home and enjoying copious amounts of sleep. Of all the things I missed when I left for college for the first time, home-cooked meals were at the top of my list. It’s very easy to neglect your diet and health on campus, especially when you’re focused on maintaining good grades, keeping up with your classes and juggling a handful of extracurriculars. Remember to eat as much healthy, home-cooked food as you can if you’re going home for Thanksgiving or winter break.
If you’re planning on spending the holiday season with family like I am, you might want to think about what you can do after the new year. After all, the spring semester starts Jan. 26. Maybe you can plan a trip with friends. If that’s not your style, you could travel alone to somewhere you’ve never been. That way, how you spend your break is totally up to you. You could also reconnect with friends from high school. Maybe you haven’t been exercising as much at school. It’s never a bad idea to set up a good routine for when you return to campus.
These are just a couple of things that I’ve done to make my school breaks feel a little less like a waste and a little more meaningful. You shouldn’t feel pressured to do any of them or anything at all. If your ideal break is sleeping for 12 hours every day, then that’s what you should do. The most important part of these breaks is that you take the time to reset yourself. Rigorous institutions like the College can challenge us in many ways and push us to our limits, making it necessary to spend these breaks the way that best suits you. I know that because we all have different course loads and extracurriculars, many may find it impossible to get the most out of our breaks, but it is incredibly important to refresh ourselves in order to have positive experiences in college and get the most out of our time here.