With the end of the semester nearly, but not quite yet, upon us, I'm sure one of the last things on the minds of stressed-out UVa students is how they'll be spending their winter break. But even amidst your many papers and exams that will likely consume most of your time over the next couple of weeks, spend a little time thinking about all of the awesome, catching-up things you theoretically have time to do over winter break. Maybe, just maybe, you'll actually do them this year.
1. Work on applications for summer internships.
It's the holiday season, but if you play your cards right, it could also be cover letter season. Many prime summer internship applications are due in January, just before you become reoccupied with classes and general day-to-day business. Now is the time to use some of those lazy December hours to bang out a few resume entries or cover letters and get ahead on your summer plans. This way, you don't have to spend spring break panicking because you haven't lined up your summer plans yet.
2. Read at least one book that has nothing to do with classes.
This may not be academically productive, but it certainly is personally productive. Contrary to what you might believe during the school year, you can actually learn a whole lot about really cool subjects from books you're not assigned to read for a class. Reading for pleasure may not be feasible when you are swamped with work, but it's a wonderful assignment to give yourself while you get cozy in your ugly-but-actually-cute Christmas sweater.
3. Learn how to make a holiday recipe that you've observed your family make for years.
Yes, you know your mom makes a certain type of delicious cookie every year, and perhaps you've helped her bake before, but it's high time you learn how to create that delicious goodness all on your own this year. Giving yourself a fun baking project will leave you quite satisfied with all of the homemaking skills you learned over your winter break.
4. Start a blog about a subject you love.
Pouring your heart out about whatever your heart desires is therapeutic, relaxing, and fulfilling. Take this time to consider what you're truly passionate about in life and have a lot to say about, and think about channeling this passion into a blog. More people might care about it than you think, and when the school year starts again, you could use blogging as a cool reward for finishing your other work. Or do what I do, and say you'll keep it up but actually only end up blogging when you have a week or more off from school.
5. Figure out the books you'll need for your spring semester classes before syllabus week.
I always end up leaving this crucial task until the last minute, and then I'm stressing about it right before classes start. It may seem like the worst idea to devote precious spare time to thinking about next semester while you're in the process of recovering from this semester, but it could save you valuable time later on. Even just procuring one book before you get back on grounds is more productive than leaving all of them to purchase in January.
6. Draft a letter to UTS detailing exactly how UVa can improve the bus system.
Let's face it, we've all been screwed over by a bus at least once, whether it went out of service even when the app said the bus was "boarding," was five minutes late in the crucial time frame of 10-15 minutes before your 9:30 classes, was full when you needed it most, or appeared to be in a field somewhere randomly. We could all devote a little time to thinking about how to improve our university, and improving our daily transportation is just the beginning step en route to a better, brighter future for UVa students.
7. Nail down your "rest of my college experience" bucket list.
In the midst of all of the activities I actually do on a weekly basis, I've also kept up a list of cool activities I'd like to do before I graduate, separate from the "119 Things To Do Before You Graduate" list. Thinking about longer-term aspirations could help focus your goals in the nearer future. With a little bit of research, it could also enlighten you to intriguing opportunities UVa offers that you had no idea existed. Part of the beauty of winter break is the time it offers you to discover new things!
8. Buy all the birthday gifts you'll need for friends and family for the entire spring semester.
I tend to procrastinate on birthday gifts until it's too late to get free shipping for that perfect gift on Amazon. Don't let that happen to you next semester; use some of your holiday gift money and winter sales and buy a whole stack of birthday gifts for your loved ones. You'll thank yourself later when it's March and you really don't have time to think about frivolous things like birthday gifts.
9. Stock up on some non-perishable food at home that you can take with you back to school.
This will make your January shopping list a bit shorter and your bank account a little weightier when it's actually time to restock your kitchen upon your return to grounds. Let your parents spoil you by stuffing your stockings with boxes of pasta this year, or at the very least, buy three boxes of your favorite brand of tea to transport with you back to grounds.
10. Learn how to play a song on the piano.
If you're fortunate enough to have a piano, electric piano, or keyboard at home, one of your most fun and satisfying break activities could be adding a new song to your perhaps-very-short canon of material. YouTube piano tutorials are your best friend in this case. They make learning songs achievable for those with little-to-no piano experience, which can be a wonderful (depending on how good you are) way to surprise your family on a festive occasion.
11. Treat yourself to as many artsy Oscar-worthy movies as you can.
This is the perfect time of year to go to that tiny movie theater with two screens that normally you don't go to, just to be fancy and see a critically acclaimed award contender movie. Is this productive? Well, if, like most people, you enjoy seeing movies to some degree, you probably won't have a chance to see many movies once the year kicks back into full swing. Embrace your inner film lover while you have the chance.
Winter break is full of possibilities for fun, exciting, productive activities. However, if it snows, give it all a rest for a day and go play in the snow instead.