On Dec. 23, the day after I finished all of my finals, I got on my flight with Delta, waited for 3 hours in Atlanta airport and finally arrived at Fort Lauderdale airport late at night. That’s right, I spent most of my winter break where just like any other people fond of warm weather would like to spend it, in Florida. Except that I lived here during high school.
For a freshman who just finished her first semester in a competitive college like WashU, this month-long break away from the excruciating cold weather is like Eva’s forbidden fruit. Away from the classrooms, from the social pressure and from the rigid schedules, I was so ready to sleep in every morning, eat ice cream every night, then go to the gym every afternoon and maybe spend some money like a irresponsible little brat once in a while. However, one week after my break started, I found myself sitting in front of my laptop, browsing Wall Street Journal, checking my emails and almost registering a domain name to start blogging regularly (Well, I am still blogging here but actually paying for a domain is a lot of pressure for me).
My actions startled me because I didn’t expect myself to be ready to start being productive and working voluntarily just so briefly since the break began. If you have been working in a highly competitive environment and learned to motivate yourself to work hard, you could understand the unnamable guilt that sometimes flushes up your mind when you are just lying around the house, munching on chips and watching Netflix.
However, I have found my way around a “guilty-pleasure” situation like this. And for all the eager, hard-working and promising business undergrad students like me, here is what I learned during this break trying to enjoy this break while not feeling like I am wasting my time:
1. Understand you deserve a break!
There is little can be used to comfort ourselves when our society is so future oriented — in order to have the successful and ideal life that you always wanted, you must work hard RIGHT NOW. While the saying holds some truth, we need to remember that the best life comes from happiness and happiness comes from balance. What is there to work for when you can’t even enjoy the life right now? Take a minute to reenergize yourself. And when it comes to time to work, work like there is nothing holding you back.
2. Expand and deepen your interests!
Who says you don’t learn anything during breaks? Yes, you might not be sitting by your desk all day composing a brilliant and impeccable academic essay or standing in the lab coming up with the cure to cancer, there is still plenty in life that we, as young college kids, need to dibble in. Other than learning how to do taxes, how to change a tire (which came to me as a real incident one night with my friends), and how to make lasagna, your interests matter too. Go fishing with your dad; go watch a basketball game; or go take pictures of the murals that have inspired you. Follow your passion and you might just find some new perspective and angle. It is not that great events triggers great ideas, but great people with acumen and observation can see opportunities and come up with ideas, even in ordinary life.
3. Read something!
When school is in session, I was always cramped with classes, club meetings, study sessions in the library and some sports recreation. Barely did I find the time and patience to sit down and read a book, because my mind was always exhausted from absorbing all the new lectures and big ideas from classes. Breaks would be great opportunities to finally open up the book you found interesting a while ago. Savoring the time you have with a good book and a cup of coffee could be just as valuable as a long afternoon in the library, yet, much more pleasant. If you don’t like books, read some reputable and legitimate newspapers (such as Wall Street Journal, New York Times or ScienceDaily), instead of the BuzzFeed or college FaceBook Meme page that we all know are way too addictive for us to be benefiting from them.
4. Leisure Network Time!
In B school we often emphasize the importance of networking. Basically everyone has a LinkedIn and we B School Ballers get a burning sensation in the back of our heads if we don’t socialize or network for too long. Let me give you some tips on feeding this impulsion: reach out to your old friends and they might lead you to some new connections; go golfing with your dad and shake hands with some grey-haired important-looking people; no doubt it would be fun to attend your high school’s alumni breakfast/ banquet and chat it up with your teachers! Networking is all about being an opportunist so why not try it our with the people who already know you and spare the ice breakers?
5. Enjoy All the Family Time You Can Have!
The past semester in college could be the first time some of you are away from home for such a long time. It must feel good to sit down to a dinner table full of food that you are familiar with, knowing how to get the ketchup bottle with your eyes closed. As an international student half a globe away from home, I have only stayed with my family for about two months in last two years. I know my situation could be special but believe me when I say this: our life will only move further away from our parents in the future. For example, I don’t even know when would be the next I see my parents after this summer if I want to start landing some internship and give my career a head start. If you really want to achieve the life you have always dreamed of, the path leading to it will be all you. Your parents are doing the best they can offer you so you should take advantage of your education any way you could. But when you are with them, give them all of your attention and enjoy their presence like they used to when you were a little kid.
So those are the things I kept in mind during my break and I spent my break like a boss. I hope the tips would help set your mind at ease with the over-functioning mind and give you some ideas on how to make a break more beneficial. Tomorrow I am heading to Atlanta and stay with my friend for the last couple of days until we march into the new semester like Spartans.