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Make It Count: How to Make the Most of Your Winter Break!

It can be tricky to figure out what to do between semesters. So much time and so little motivation! It may be tempting to do absolutely nothing, but that isn’t always the wisest choice. So what makes the perfect recipe for the best winter break possible?

Equal parts Productivity, Relaxation, and Socialization!

Productivity

Apply for Summer Internships

Even though the days are short and (if you live somewhere cold) it’s puffy winter jacket weather, now is the time to apply for summer internships. If you’re hoping to get some insight into your future field, use this time to make some connections:

  • Visit – If you’re hoping to take a peek into your future, try scheduling an office visit. Pick a few companies that you might be interested in working for in the future and ask them if you could drop in one day during the week. Make sure you ask a ton of questions, dress the part, meet as many people as possible, and follow-up with everyone!  You can find more info on “winternships” here.
  • Shadow – Try shadowing someone who does what you want to do for a day. An arrangement can usually be set up on your own, through your school’s career services center, or even through a family member or friend. Use the opportunity to figure out what a typical day is like and to see if – at the end of the day – you still want to do this type of work. Read this to find out how to rock your winternship.

  • Get some info – Set up an informational interview on your own or through the career services center at your school with someone in your hometown. Think of it as a stress-free opportunity to find out more about a potential career in your field. Ask questions, take notes, and don’t forget to send a thank you note afterwards!
  • Be prepared – Spend a day or two working on your résumé and writing some general letters of introduction that can be handed out to potential employers. Have a few handy if you plan on going on office visits. Check out this article for advice on creating your first resume.

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Make Some Money

Not the counterfeit kind. Try getting a part time job if you still have a few weeks left. Hit up the neighbors for some babysitting gigs, shovel snow (if there is any where you live), or offer some tutoring sessions. Or offer your skills to local businesses and family friends. And lots of stores hire people over the holidays—check out job search sites like careerbuilder.com or monster.com  for listings!  And here are 15 more ways to make money over winter break.

Get Organized

Do a little bit of winter cleaning – out with the old and in with the new.

“Instead of spring cleaning, clean out your closet to make room for your holiday gifts,” Kayla, a junior at Yale suggested. “And give those clothes to the Salvation Army. Good Karma may result in awesome gifts.”

You can do the same with your old books – sell as many as you can and toss or donate the rest. Make sure you go through everything first so that you don’t throw away anything important.

Relaxation

When school is in session, we tend to leave little time for ourselves. Winter break is the perfect opportunity to change that! Below are some nifty ways to schedule in some time for “me, myself, and I”:

Bake a Cake

Or cookies, or bread, or really whatever tickles your fancy! When I informally asked my friends and suitemates what their favorite thing about winter break was, the second most common answer after “sleeping” was “having a kitchen again!”

“I love baking when I’m home! It’s fun, relaxing, and also a great low-cost gift for the holidays,” Jeania Ree, a junior at Yale (who just gave me some delicious gingerbread!) said. “You can make a lot of presents for only a little bit of money!”

If you need some culinary inspiration, check out the Food Network’s “12 Days of Cookies”

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Catch Up on Your Shows

Whoever said TV was bad for you obviously never had the pleasure of watching an all-day marathon.

“I’m planning on watching everything on my DVR – AKA tons of Golden Girls,” Rhiana, a senior at Yale, says. And even if the lovely ladies from Miami aren’t your style, there are plenty of other mind-numbing great shows out there. Some suggestions from girls around the country:

  • “Modern Family” – It’s the only show that every single person in my family watches each and every week. The characters are amazing, the writing is sharp, and it never fails to be funny!
  • “The Nanny” – My roommate insists that this show is underrated and that it’s one of her favorites to watch in her down time.
  • “Mad Men” – Some people find this show difficult to get into, but tons of people can’t escape the intoxicating, mysterious allure of Don Draper and friends. Start from the pilot and work your way up!
  • “Freaks and Geeks” – This one is a cult classic that came recommended from a ton of different people. It’s the first thing Judd Appatow ever produced and stars funnyman Seth Rogen, the nerdy and beautiful James Franco, and love-of-my-life Jason Segel. If you can find it, it’s definitely worth the hunt!
  • “16 and Pregnant” – So it might be the guiltiest of pleasures, but it’s hard not to watch sometimes.
  • “Glee” – Basically everyone I know is addicted to this show. If you haven’t heard New Directions and Sue Sylvester, it’s definitely worth a listen.

 

Get Movin’!

If your “food baby” is making your pants uncomfortably tight, get up and exercise.

“I go into the school year after year with the goal to hit the gym regularly,” Lauren, a senior at Columbia University, said. “But then exams start, papers are due, and I decide that I would rather sleep. I love using winter break as a way to catch up!”

If you have the dough, join a gym. If not, try some simple, affordable workouts – check out some free exercise podcasts on itunes or hulu.com.

Or you could just do a few laps around the mall! While you’re doing laps, take some strategic breaks at your favorite stores. Post-Christmas sales are notoriously wonderful. My roommate’s personal favorite is the Victoria’s Secret Semi-Annual Sale (usually early January).

If you walk around enough, it totally passes for cardio.

Take Time to Reflect

Journal, meditate, do some yoga, paint, draw, make some goals, learn a new skill, write a poem, work on that screenplay you’ve had in your head, reread all of the Harry Potter books, knit something, start a blog, whatever you need to do to unwind. And, since you’re on break, the relaxation comes guilt-free!

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Socialization

It’s all in the Family

“What’s the most important thing in the world?”

“Breakfast?”

“I was going to say family.”

      (Arrested Development)

We love our families and winter break is a great time to spend time with them. But what to do?

  • Learn to cook a family favorite – This is a great way to bond with the older generation and learn how to make their amazing food. I don’t know about you, but I’m pretty psyched to learn how to make my Greek grandmother’s tyropita and my Italian grandfather’s chicken risotto!
  • Take a day trip – My great-aunts tend to enjoy the finer things in life. A great way to spend time with them is going to a museum, seeing a show, or going to a fancy schmancy restaurant.
  • Run some errands – Though this might seem really, really unexciting, some of the deepest, most meaningful conversations I’ve had with my family and friends have been during mundane tasks. Try it.

If you have to field some awkward relationship questions, consult this article.

Friends From Home

One of my favorite things about going home over break is catching up with my friends from high school. It’s always great to see what everybody is up to, what they’re planning on doing, and reminisce about the good ol’ days. Some fun things to do include:

  • Party – Make it a classy affair and invite your friends over for a cocktail-attire potluck. It’s a great opportunity to catch up with your buds, get all dolled up, and take some Facebook-worthy photos.
  • Volunteer – It’s the season for giving, so give back to someone in need. Great organizations like Toys for Tots are always looking for groups of volunteers to shop for kids in need.
  • Craft time – This might seem kind of lame, or like an activity that only Martha Stewart and friends do on a wild Saturday night. But it’s actually really fun – go to a craft store and find something that you haven’t done since you were little. Craft supply stores, like Michael’s and JoAnn’s have extra classes this time of year, so learn to make something new!

  • Learn about a new sport – Become a fan of a sport you know nothing about, like professional rugby or soccer. Plan a little get together, invite your pals over, and cheer for your new favorite team!

No matter how you spend your time over winter break, we, here at Her Campus ™ hope you make the most of it!

Happy (and healthy) Holidays and New Year!

Sources:

College women around the country

www.Internqueen.com

http://www.foodnetwork.com/12-days-of-cookies/package/index.html

http://www.psychologytoday.com/files/u629/istockphoto_8312638-from-point-a-to-b%20PAID%20FOR.JPG

http://www.thedailygreen.com/cm/thedailygreen/images/6K/green-kids-bake-lg.jpg

http://www.healthproductschoice.com/wp-content/uploads/2009/04/weight-loss-tips.jpg

http://www.exclusivebouncycastles.co.uk/Images/creative-kids.jpg

Kate Giaccone is currently a junior at Yale University majoring in Sociology with a concentration in Psychology. She spent the first eighteen years of her life living in a small town on the north shore of Long Island. In high school, she interned with the Metropolitan Museum of Art and was the editor-in-chief of her school's newspaper. While in college, Kate has become a staff reporter for the Yale Daily News, and is currently a writer and marketing director for the Yale Undergraduate Law Review and an active member of Kappa Kappa Gamma. Some of her least favorite things are seafood, "seefood," lipstick, and Twilight movies. Kate does, however, enjoy her collection of well-worn Converses, painting, frozen yogurt, and Mad Men. She hopes to attend law school and business school after graduation.
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