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Five Fall Break Takeaways

This article is written by a student writer from the Her Campus at Haverford chapter.

1. The World is Bigger than Haverford

     Sure this sounds self-evident, but still critical to keep in mind. When we get caught up in our own little worlds, our internal dialogues, the stress of coursework and extracurricular activities and the intimacy of our community, it’s pretty easy to find ourselves lost in the vortex of the Haverbubble. Perspective is powerful in the moments where we feel stuck. A lower grade on an assignment than you were expecting or the disappointment of not catching the attention of your crush at the party is not a demerit on your inherent worth as a person.

     This is not to say that it’s not frustrating when little “failures” seem to pile up, but these are the moments in which it is more important than ever to think about our own locus of control. There will be another assignment. We have professors who generally will have a conversation about WHY work was not up to par. We have academic resources to help us do better next time. We have kind-hearted, brilliant peers who offer their help. There will be another opportunity to talk to the guy or girl that’s captured your attention. There will be another party. The world will still be turning when you wake up tomorrow.

     So instead of making the mistake of associating what we do for who we are, we should turn our attention to the wholesome, esteemed part of ourselves and what we are fundamentally motivated by. Remember what a vast world there is outside our vaguely utopian, arboretum pressure cooker of a campus.


2. Doing “nothing” is not accomplishing “nothing”

     Going from 100 to 0 real quick, am I right?  I always have this underlying sensation of listlessness after I’ve submitted my last assignment or gotten on the bus or plane in anticipation of where I’m going for break. On a rational level I know I am free, I should relax, and there’s a part of me that wants to veg out and take advantage of the opportunity to be still, but this transition into free time does not always come easy. Like the body after two long halves of a soccer match, I need a cool-down to release tension and catch my breath before I can just immediately turn into my couch potato self. It’s not feasible to go from exerting myself so hard intellectually (and often times physiologically) to nothing.

     I’ve learned in these times to seek an intermediary activity, something to give myself some space to come down from all the hard work. This can be a nice walk on the nature trail, have a conversation with a friend, going into Suburban Square for some real food and maybe some shopping. Maybe even go into Philly to remind myself of the world outside of campus. When all the sudden the dust settles of midterms or finals, I’ve found it’s a good thing to get outside myself even if I’m not inclined to do so. This allows me to process my hard work and to not obsess over what more I could of done, to feed other parts of myself besides the college student.


3. Distance makes the heart grow fonder

We leave a whole world behind in the intimacy of our community. It is easy to turn a blind eye to the events that happen on other continents in the physical and mental rigor of academics, sports seasons, and social life. After we return to campus in the fall, weeks and months pass and we often begin taking for granted the company of the friends we were once missing so dearly as we all ventured off for summer. So, sometimes it takes ten or a hundreds of miles of distance to remember, but there are a multitude of reasons why you chose to come to Haverford in the first place. Our college is not the kind of school that people choose to attend to squeak by and party for four years. Whatever your reasons were, the community or the academics or the ability to continue playing your sport at an elite level while getting a world-class education, these are more easily called to mind AWAY from Haverford. Distance allows for re-visitation of why we chose to attend Haverford in the first place, who we value and trust on campus that we miss when we’re gone, why it’s like a home away from home on some level.


4. Resist the Haverford FOMO: It’s never too late to reevaluate

    The vortex of the Haverbubble is our community’s own brand of FOMO. Almost everyone on campus is incredibly involved in his or her schoolwork, clubs, sports, and jobs. Being immersed in this kind of climate can make it a challenging to transition when given a break. It also makes it hard to slow down and remember the “why” behind we do things instead of just loading up our plates until they overflow because we’re too scared to miss out.

The present moment is often sublimated by replaying scenarios in our heads over and over again of our interactions with others, or feeling consumed by what it is to come. Out of this emerges a cycle of never taking time to turn this reflection internally. We overlook our emotional hygiene, neglecting to check in with ourselves and ask the probing questions. But the opportunity given by time off and distance from Haverlife allows for the opportunity to delve into healthy introspection. Introspection about how we’re spending our time, and the things and people we involve in our lives.


5. Self-care will never be frivolous

     Time away from campus makes me realize how the stress and stimulation of being at school has a physiological effect on me. By the last few days before break, I see it in the long faces on my friends, barely running on three or four hours of sleep, pushing themselves to polish essays and study for midterms. I hear it in Magill from the coughs and sniffles brought on by the Haverplague, and the stress brought on upon our collective immune system.

The first two days I spent at my Aunt’s house in Boston, I slept 12+ hours. I cooked and ate a real meal. I painted my nails. I exercised. I did lots of Yoga. I wandered around Harvard Square for hours without a timetable. These are the things that I consider self-care for myself, and the value of said self-care activities are not to be under acknowledged. The same is to be said for the things that fill your tank individually, as opposed to the variety of things at school that drain our tanks of energy. It is a great exercise to ignore time when we are on break and to do the things that feel most natural, that we love, because it mends the exhaustion and reconnects our bodies with our minds on some fundamental level. 


So welcome back. Hopefully feeling well-rested excited to see familiar faces, and ready to attack responsibilities with a renewed vigor.  

Voted Most Likely To Write A Tell-All Series About Going To An All-Girls School Entitled "Chronicles In Plaid" and Most Social (Media) in High School. Personally, I would have preferred being voted as Most Likely To Become Tina Fey and Most Goddesslike, but we can't have it all, now can we?