The Hidden Struggle of the First College Winter Break

Unlike most people, adapting to college life was a breeze for me. I love Boston, my college, my classes and basically every aspect of my life at school. What I didn’t expect to be so difficult was adjusting to going back home. I felt a nervous and excited pit in my stomach while driving home for winter break. Being home meant I was away from the friends who very quickly had become my second family, and, more importantly, meant that my carefully created routine would vanish.

My first two weeks home were filled with family, friends and the holidays. The excitement of Christmas and seeing everyone I had missed the past 4 months of school was helping me float on an emotional high. I thrive on being busy and deadlines are my best friends. Going from the craziness of finals week right into the holidays helped keep me busy while at home. But, as the holidays finished and my relatives left, my friends went back to school and parents went back to work, I realized the reality of my winter break.

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The last few weeks of my break consisted of a deep self-reflection period. I crashed… very hard. Being on the go for months at a time had taken an emotional and physical toll on me that I had never experienced before. I was sleeping 12 hours a night and still falling asleep in the middle of any day-time activity. I did not have the energy to work, to make plans or even go to the gym. The majority of my break was spent sleeping, not even feeling motivated to pursue the hobbies I would typically use all this free time on.

It is still unclear to me why this burnout was caused. Possibly the stress of the first semester of college, maybe the adjustment of being home, or even the combination of both. Either way, I was not feeling my best whilst at home. Even more surprising is that I in fact missed home a lot during first semester, so why was I reacting in this way? My one answer is that for the first time in a very long time I had no responsibilities. Nothing that was impending, nothing on the back burner that I needed to make time for. I wasn’t just lazy or bored, I had reached a new level of exhaustion.

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In this level of exhaustion, I realized how connected I am with my life at school, and how lucky I am to be somewhere where I am so mentally healthy and happy. I also came to the realization that even if I may not want to, I need to rebuild my relationship with being home. For me, this means creating a routine at home and making plans that can keep me busy throughout the four months of summer break. Now that I am back at school I am back to my happy and energetic self and know that next time I go home I will have to fight harder to take care of my well being.

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If you’re struggling with going home, remember you are not alone and there are steps you can take to making the transition home easier. Go to your favorite restaurants, plan weekend or day trips, maybe even get an internship or short-term job! Despite taking action, there may still be times where it is hard to be home; within these moments we need to remember that soon enough we'll be back at school where we belong!


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