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The Phases You Go Through During Winterim

The ten week term is short but absolutely jam-packed, and by the time week 9 rolls around, you’re exhausted and it’s hard to stay focused on finals. You’re burned out, exhausted, and ready to go home to family and home-made meals. Though your winterim experience definitely differs slightly year by year and from person to person based on background, personality, and plans, there is always some room for relatability: here are a few common psychological phases you go through during winterim, in chronological order.


  1. Pre-Winterim: Antsy and Nostalgic

This is the brief phase before you set off for home. For some people, it starts as early as reading period, and for some people, they’ve been so preoccupied with studying for exams that the fact that they’re heading back home doesn’t even sink in until they start packing. Either way, once going home and relaxing for winterim gets on your mind, you’re absolutely abuzz. You’re thinking about everything about home you forgot you even missed, you’re thinking about your life before college, and you’re reflecting on your younger self. You’re nostalgic and can’t wait to get home and experience it all again in a new context and revisit the places and people you missed, but you might also feel a little nervous. Has home changed a lot while you’ve been gone? Have you? What if you run into an ex-partner? The possibilities for wonder and catastrophe are equally endless.

  1. Feeling Family

Once you get home, likely feeling a little disoriented and gross from the trip, the first thing you see is your family and it hits you how much you’ve missed having your parents around, particularly during the hard times. It especially hits you hard if you’re a freshman and this was your first term away or if you haven’t been able to go home in a long time. Once your parents hug you, you melt into them and realize that though you’re in college, you still feel like a little kid. For the first part of winterim, usually a few days, you’re all about family and want to do everything with them, tell them everything about your new life, and relive all your childhood traditions.

  1. Desire for Litness

But let’s face it, you’ve recharged by relaxing with family, and you’re ready for some excitement. If you sit around at home with your parents for one more day, you feel like you’re going to die of boredom and you’ll regretfully feel like you wasted your winterim. During this phase you’re hitting up old friends to have fun and make some memories that you can take back with you to tell your friends in Hanover about. You might even leave for yet another trip.

  1. Tired

And all of that activity and social energy wears you out, and you finally feel like you’ve gotten both the need for family and for friends out of your system, so now you need to recharge. Sure, the first bit of winterim with family was relaxing, but now you need pure me-time. That means picking up old personal hobbies, lying in bed all day with a face mask, or other activities that puts you in your happy place.

  1. Irritated with Everything Home

Since you’ve gotten everything you can out of home, it’s starting to bore you, and maybe even get on your nerves a little bit… or a lot. Your parents or other relatives are getting overbearing, you’re running out of things to do, and you notice that you’ve changed somehow after being at college. You’ve outgrown old friends or traditions. Home is too familiar, and you feel underwhelmed. You start to miss the busy, vibrant campus feeling Dartmouth gives you. You miss your new college friends. You miss those stressful but rewarding classes that pushed you to be better. Home is just that, your comfort zone, but you know you can’t stay forever.

  1. Restless Excitement for Hanover

And so your mind starts wandering to Hanover again. Your group chats with friends at Dartmouth start getting super busy as people begin discussing plans for taking classes together, playing pong, or other fun Dartmouth-specific things that you just couldn’t do, or in some cases, even talk about, at home. You love home and you love the person it made you, but that person, in some ways, has moved on. You start packing your bags.

  1. Dread and Regret

That doesn’t mean Hanover is all sunshine and rainbows either; it’s stressful and exhausting, and a nice, relaxing winterim doesn’t erase the trauma of finals season. Though you know you have to go back and you know it’s good for you, a part of you dreads having responsibilities, not having your parents help you or motivate you through nagging, and you know you’re going to get homesick again, so you’re a little hesitant to say you’re 100% ready to be back on campus. Plus, toward the end of winterim you start reflecting on how you spent winterim, and it likely wasn’t as productive as you wanted it to be. Maybe you told yourself you’d take some online courses to learn coding, or you said you’d workout. You didn’t, and you’re kicking yourself, because once you’re back on campus, you know you won’t get much of a chance. And so, with a mixture of excitement, dread, and regret, you head back to the Green.


Lex Kang

Dartmouth '21

Lex Kang is a Dartmouth '21 student from Seoul, South Korea studying economics and linguistics modified with philosophy.
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