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Embracing European Sundays: A Time For Rest, Relaxation, And Reset

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

When I first moved to Europe to study abroad, I anticipated long weeks of excitement, with little time to rest. What I did not expect was the complete and utter aversion here to doing any sort of work on Sundays. I had previously heard of the stereotypical European weekends, a time for leisure away from work, but I had not truly understood the way in which certain cities seem to shut down entirely for a day of rest. 

As someone who takes great reward in accomplishing many tasks throughout the day, I initially found it very difficult to respect this day of doing nothing. I wanted to use Sundays as a time to go grocery shopping, do work at a café, or do any other sort of activity. However, with grocery stores and other shops closed, I was forced to fend for myself to figure out how to fill this day in other ways. 

Initially, I resisted the break. Instead, I used Sundays to do everything that I could without anything being open. However, as my life grew busier, I learned to appreciate the European way of living by participating in this much-needed break. 

I began to use Sundays as a reset day for each week: sleeping in, doing some necessary but light chores, catching up on some homework, and most importantly, relaxing. Yes, I still accomplished small tasks, but overall, Sundays became a quiet and peaceful day. 

With extremely busy weeks of school, homework, traveling, and other activities, it is highly important to give yourself grace and take breaks when you need them. This pre-established break once a week allows for a socially acceptable chance to do very little to absolutely nothing throughout the day. Who cares if you don’t leave the house? Your week was likely busy enough as it was. 

I am not suggesting that every week you do absolutely nothing on Sundays (even though this is still perfectly respectable). I only urge you to take some of this European advice and incorporate it into your daily routine. Don’t live for school and work, and instead take the time to give yourself a day of resting, resetting, and transitioning into your next week.

Nicole is a third-year student at UCLA from Plymouth, Massachusetts pursuing an International Development Studies major and Global Health minor. She loves the beach, hiking, traveling, and coffee.