study breaks

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We’re in the last few weeks of the semester – (unlucky) week number 13 (according to my Spanish class syllabus) to be exact. While sweet, sweet winter break is on the tip of our tongues, we all know that taking a bite into our well deserved vacation is like taking a bite into a plum – the skin sucks but it’s so deliciously juicy inside! Probably the weirdest metaphor ever used in my writing career, but y’all get the picture…and if you don’t:

Final psets (problem sets), papers, and projects (the P-trinity) are trickling in and as our minds wear down, we try to at least protect our bodies from the violent winds. Although winter solstice (my 21st birthday!!) hasn’t passed, it’s undeniably cold. It’s that time of year when Pandora/Songza not only reads our minds, but looks into our souls to play the Go-Go’s Vacation (All I Ever Wanted).

Thank goodness for Thanksgiving Break.

Harvard doesn’t hold class Wednesday-Friday of Thanksgiving week. (Yale has a full on one week vacation whereas a lot of California schools have only Thursday-Friday off, so I’ll take what I can get!) Harvard’s calendar has slightly changed during my time as an undergraduate student. We use to only have 2 days off at the end of the week, making it harder to travel and really wind down (read: catch up on TV). The whole Wednesday vacation business began last year and often encourages students to leave campus early (skipping Monday and Tuesday – this is college freedom!). Break is always the best because it gives your schedule more flexibility – whether you have tons of work to do or not. (Hats off to you if you’re actually academically productive during break!)

My freshman year, I went to my best friend’s house in Connecticut where I witnessed my first real snow fall and practically gained a beloved extended family. During my sophomore Thanksgiving, my roommate and I immersed our-little-Southern-Californian-selves in the pleasures of New York City: The Lion King on Broadway, ice skating in Central Park, FOOD and etc. This Thanksgiving was the first time I’ve been on campus.

I feel like staying on campus solicits a lot of pity, but this was a choice I made and I don’t regret it! I thought about going home, but I’ll be home all of winter break (J term/January term). A few friends invited me over – heck, my boss did too – but I really wanted a selfish break where I could do whatever I want, whenever I wanted – and that I did. My days off were filled with some quality friend time, quiet reading, ultra long distance running, cable television, and careless sleeping. I was living the dream. And this Thanksgiving, I’m so thankful that I live a dream-like life! I’m thankful for the time I have with others and I’m thankful for the time I have with myself. I normally find time as the enemy since it always passes too quickly without my consent, but I do appreciate how consistent – as well as how consistently kind – it’s been with me.

Quite a number of students stay on campus too – things definitely get quieter, but don’t imagine a ghost town! The college also does an amazingly phenomenal job at ensuring our stay is not only comfortable, but also nutritious! That’s if you consider over-eating as nutritious…

At least one dhall (dining hall) is always open at any given meal time and HUDS (Harvard University Dining Services) even provides a traditional Thanksgiving feast! I wish I had pictures, but I was too busy stuffing myself…

On the Thanksgiving menu was: turkey, ham, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, green beans, fruit salad, New England clam chowder, cheese & crackers, dried fruit (apricots, pineapple), and pumpkin/apple pie a la mode! (note: not an exhaustive list) We were eating for literally 3 hours, helping ourselves to multiple entrees 🙂

Some tutors (typically graduate students or faculty who live with us undergraduate students to help us keep the peace and the sanity / just to be confusing, these amazing people are called “proctors” if the undergraduates are freshman) stayed on campus as well and hosted a late night “study break” (always more break than study) where there was sushi, fried dumplings, naan + dip, chips + salsa, etc.! Study breaks are the best. I’ll miss these so much when I’m in the real world and expected to fend for myself.

After dinner (and post-dinner eating), I enjoyed the football game with some Charlie Brown, and planned to go shopping with one of my blockmates for Black Friday. (Blockmates are a group of friends that you form during your freshman spring semester in order to tell the college that you all want to live in the same upperclassman house/dorm for your remaining time as an undergraduate. For all you commitment-phobes out there, students can transfer from house to house if we wish to do so). From Scott’s blog, I guess Black Friday is a normal blockmate activity 🙂

My blockmate is a Boston local and took us to Wrenthem Outlets, about an hour outside of campus. We left school around 2 am, avoided the traffic jam and most of the lines to enter the store and checkout. It was the most ideal time. Sales were insane!! I found myself a little sleepy around 5 am until I was instantly energized by 50% off with a 15% student discount on top of that. I’m still feeling the happiness buzz from my purchases. We ended up coming back to campus by 7 am. Sadly, I set my alarm for 8:45 am because I checked out a library book and it was due at 9 am. Not to worry though because I was back in bed from 9:03 am to 5:58 pm. At which time, I went to dinner, watched a few episodes of dramatic TV, read a few chapters of The Bell Jar and was in bed by 10:30 pm until noon ish the next day. Yeah, I’m pretty impressed with myself too.

Let’s all hope that I can keep impressing myself academically…woohoo 1.5 more weeks of class!! Reading Period (the time when classes officially end, the prelude to Final Exam week) begins Dec. 5 and lasts until the 12th. Giving everything a date just now was a really scary thing – so many mixed emotions! I can’t wait to go home, see my family who I haven’t been with since Memorial Day, catch up with friends, and celebrate my birthday! Things I can wait for: final paper deadlines, math exam, being more than halfway done with college…EEEK

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