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Celina Timmerman / Her Campus

I’m Taking The Semester Off – And That’s Okay

I’ve never been a fan of uncertainty. As much as I say I don’t want to plan my future, I find comfort in knowing what the near future has in store for me. So imagine my dismay 5 months ago when the pandemic hit, leaving me scrambling for answers. My school went almost completely online, forcing a majority of the student population to stay home or go off-campus. I obviously wasn’t eager to go back on campus considering the circumstances, but I didn’t want to be stuck at home, and I also didn't want to be stuck in a crowded apartment with nowhere to go, hence my dilemma. Everyone around me seemed to come to terms with online learning, but something didn’t sit right with me. Call me dramatic, but I want my college campus experience, which includes being in a classroom setting where I can focus. I’m not in a rush to finish my degree in four years, despite what people may say. All signs pointed to taking the semester off. It took a lot of going back and forth, and even after I made my decision I couldn’t bring myself to press that button to make it official until about a month later.

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Sometimes I can’t help but feel that by breaking away from tradition, I’m doing something wrong. After all, popular opinion is popular for a reason. If everyone is doing online classes, shouldn't I? I had a scroll of reasons to take the semester off, and yet everyone I know decided to go online which made me doubt myself more than ever.

There comes a time in our lives where we have to stop comparing ourselves. With newfound independence comes confidence in knowing what’s right for you, even if it’s not what others are doing. When you’re young, there's comfort in following crowds. While we’re all figuring out our futures, there’s a path laid out for us. There’s a conventional way to get through this time in our lives where we’re all pretty much doing the same thing. Go to college, earn your degree in 4 years, then venture out into the world and make your own choices. There’s an expectation to follow that timeline, and many find discomfort in going astray. For us, however, the time to make our own individual choices came a little early. In the whirlwind that is this pandemic, universities are struggling to function, and many students are left stuck like a deer in headlights.

This is a tumultuous time, and it’s okay to take a break to breathe and recompose. While it may feel too early to go off the beaten path, we need to reassure ourselves that we are taking care of ourselves. It doesn’t matter whether or not you’re following the crowd, as long as you know you’re taking care of yourself, that’s all that matters. It may be difficult to figure out how to do that, especially when it’s unconventional, but you’ll thank yourself in the long run. I’m now home working, and I couldn’t be more confident and happy with my decision.

[bf_image id="q5b293-df5gco-29c9fd"] Pictures courtesy of the Her Campus Media Library

Danielle Efrat

U Mass Amherst '23

Danielle is a Junior majoring in Art History and minoring in Art and Education at UMass Amherst. She is passionate about all things photography, travel, music, and her dogs, Bruno & Buddy, which you can see pictures of on her Instagram @daniellefrat
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