Make the most of your winter break

Preventing boredom in your hometown

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As the fall semester is wrapping up, it’s time to think about your plans for winter break. With a full month off from school, I’m fearful of falling into a rut while I’m back at home. Although home life can be great, if you aren’t staying active and trying to keep busy, you’re at risk of getting bored rather quickly. This is exactly what happened to me last year. After all, our winter break is a full month long. There’s plenty of time to fit in some fun activities to keep the whole month away from school interesting.  

If you already have an internship set up, or maybe a family vacation, then I’m either impressed or I’m jealous. But if you’re heading home without any plans, here are some ways you can make the most of your winter break.

Seize the holiday spirit! Naturally, the best part of going home is hanging out with family and seeing the people you grew up with — make a pact to embrace the holiday season with these people! While celebrating Christmas or Hanukkah may seem to have lost its magic, there’s no reason to give up the fun in these holidays. Keep the spunk in the holiday festivities by starting a Secret Santa group — or Secret Hanukkah — or hosting a goofy ugly sweater party. It’s also never too early to bump some Christmas music or watch “Elf” for the 100th time.  

Gather a group of friends and get tickets to see a nearby sports team. I am quick to embarrass myself when I admit that I’m a Jets fan, but that means most of you have better teams to root for at home than me! Pack the burgers and dogs and your choice of refreshments and get rowdy for your favorite team. Scheduling some day trips throughout the break is a great way to try new or exciting things even in a familiar place.  

Another day trip idea — go on a hike.  Hopefully you can catch a warmer winter day to take advantage of some outdoorsy activity. If there’s a cool trail nearby that you have not yet traversed, there’s no better time than now. Last winter break, I definitely had some lazy days and I certainly didn't get much exercise. A hiking or a camping trip would fill some gaps and give you the chance to see some cool views.  

See your grandparents! It’s likely that you'll be seeing all your extended family members for the holidays, but take your grandparents out to dinner before you return to Charlottesville. My grandma still slips me a 20 dollar bill almost everytime I see her, and my grandpa always has a story to retell. These moments are worth cherishing while we have the chance to see our families over break.  

Go on a ski trip! I’m super stoked about a trip to Vermont I’ve been planning with some friends from home. If you don't ski much, take on the bunny slopes with confidence and make it a New Year’s resolution to improve. It’s likely that you’ve done mostly everything there is to do in the near proximity of your hometown. Use winter break as an opportunity to try some new things and make some excursions that the stress of academics often takes you away from.  

Volunteer at a local food bank! There’s no better way to embrace the holiday spirit than to do some good deeds. While you’re no longer home all year round, it’s nice to still have a strong role in your community during the time that you are. Even at home, you can meet some new people by engaging in community service and play your part in the giving atmosphere of the holidays.  

Read a book. Given the amount of academic reading many of us are exposed to, reading for pleasure may feel like a rarity. Winter break is the perfect time to get back in the groove. I’m from New Jersey, and I’m a huge Bruce Springsteen fan. I have his autobiography slotted as my book of choice over break. Finding a good book to read is a great way to stimulate your brain and spend your free time if you strike some boredom during winter break.  

It’s crazy to think the semester is already coming to a close. As you finish up your finals and pack up for home, think about some ways to really take advantage of your time off from school. By planning some specific trips and events, you’ll avoid falling into a monotonous routine and truly appreciate the time off.  

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