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Winter Break Survival Guide

Where'd the semester go? How did I get through it?

Mostly unscathed, you'll emerge from your final exams and papers in a daze. You will yourself to pack your bags and climb into the car, bus,  plane, or train that will facilitate your return to whatever city or suburb from which you came. Then what?

Returning home from college is familiar and foreign all at once. You'll revel in the comfort of your house, your room, and the old clothes you left behind as you assembled your new life. At the same time, you must reintegrate yourself into the lives of your parents, family, and hometown friends. This is no longer your sole or dominant sphere. Whether this situation sounds exciting or terrifying to you, there are ways to navigate the challenges of meeting up with old friends, running into high school rivals, visiting your favorite teachers, and rekindling former flames.

  1. Get to Know Your Friends

You and your best friend(s) no longer see each other every single day. There will inevitably be small details to catch up on, but it might take some warming up to get into the deep stuff. Schedule a date to both share openly and listen intently about your new lives. The friendships that last are the friendships that grow as you do, so be understanding of the fact that people change. But don't fret, the inside jokes and traditions you used to share will be an important reminder of why you're friends.

  1. Rekindle a Romance (or Don't)

You and this person used to date in high school, and things never quite fizzled out. Despite the intrigue of college dating (lol), they've either stayed on your mind, or hometown boredom has pushed you to sending one of those "Long time no see" texts. Either way, you're considering a Round 2.

Pros? It'll be a fun way to get out of the house, fulfill your social interaction quota, or just catch up with an old pal. You may even find yourself realizing that college maturation has done you both some good, and that the relationship is working out better than before.

Cons? You may be starting something you can't and don't want to finish. Come January, you'll either need to discuss ways to keep it going or neatly end it once more. You may also find yourself feeling let down if you expected something more serious to blossom from this brief foray.

Solution? Be open about what you want and expect, and ask about what the other person is thinking. You've got mere weeks at home – you don't want to fill it with unnecessary heartbreak.

  1. Spend Some You-Time™

Last semester was tough, and so you want to be revived and refreshed before you go back. Although seeing friends and family is a blast, take some time to give yourself attention. Do all of the self-care that the schoolyear forces you to neglect: sleep the full eight hours, eat all three meals, get some regular exercise in, read recreationally, watch your favorite shows, and reflect on the past couple of months. Second semester you will be grateful that you started her off on a positive note.

  1. Parents are People, too!

By nature, going to a college is a self-centered pursuit. You spend the semester worrying about how good your grades are, how active your social life is, how fit you are, how involved you are, and how successful you are. Believe it or not, your parents probably spend a significant portion of time worrying about those exact same things from afar. Try to cut them some slack if they hover over you when you return. These may be the last years that you get to spend under your parents' roof, so take advantage of their love, affection, and financial support while you can!

Kat is a senior at Harvard concentrating in Social Anthropology. She's an a cappella nerd, a hip hop dancer, and a lover of any and all Mexican food.
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