Columns, Opinion

GIESELMANN: Winter break

When I was in high school, winter break was a time of excitement and freedom. After months of full-time schooling, organized extracurricular activities and obligations, winter break was a time to finally relax.

I fondly remember spending hours during winter break when I was younger bussing to the skate park and skateboarding until the sun would go down — only to bus home and begin the same routine the next day. At that age, winter break was a welcomed taste of freedom.

As a college student, winter break is a different experience. Although I used to love the freedom afforded me by winter break, coming home from college has not always been an easy transition.

This recent winter break started as a breath of fresh air. I hung out with my good friends and family, ate well and enjoyed the warm California weather. I traveled around to a few towns on the coastline, began preparing for my semester abroad in Shanghai and even passed my drivers license test after three years of procrastination. The lack of responsibility was a needed respite from the stress of the four final exams I had just taken.

As my seemingly never-ending break has persisted, I have become less and less enchanted with the ‘freedom’ I used to associate with winter break. My friends, who are mostly college students, already returned to their campuses earlier this month. At a certain point in mid-January I sadly realized that I was the only young adult left in Tiburon, Calif., with almost a month until I headed to Shanghai.

In an attempt to productively allocate my copious amounts of free time, I planned a daily schedule for myself. I wanted to continue studying Chinese, work on my writing, practice playing the piano, apply for summer jobs and exercise every day. I thought that if I put my time towards worthwhile endeavors, I would at least have something to show for my endless month at home. Thus, I made flashcards, opened up my computer and began to form a habit.

For the first couple of weeks, my dedication paid off — I felt productive and accomplished. Though I occasionally spent a few hours playing video games or watching TV, I mostly used my time at home on activities that I deemed “productive.”

Unfortunately, the effort such an organized schedule demanded eventually wore on me. I didn’t leave the house for a few days in a row, slept in much later than I wanted to and began to dread the time I had decided to spend on being productive.

As any college student returning home can attest to, I began to feel somewhat boxed in. The environment set up during my childhood is not necessarily compatible with my life as a young adult, and oftentimes the discrepancies will lead to tension between the rest of my family and myself. Much to my roommates’ chagrin, I have a habit of not always washing my dishes when I am finished eating. Though my roommates are willing to accept some of my flaws, any time that I have let this happen while staying at home I am in serious danger of getting chewed out by a family member. 

As minute an offense as it may seem, I understand the majority of the conflict that arises between my family and me when I return home for break is a result of my own failure to conform to the rules of the house. Regardless of whether or not I agree or disagree with the rules in my childhood home, I am bound to obey them. I consider myself lucky to be able to return to California over break and sleep in my own bed. I often don’t even have to worry about food while I’m at home in California; to be honest, I’m even a little bit spoiled.

However, that doesn’t mean that the transition from life in college to life at home is always easy. I have gotten myself knee-deep in arguments with my dad only to realize he was right all along. After a month at home in California, I’ve begun to accept that the late-to-rise, late-to-bed lifestyle that I tend to follow is not the common choice for most people. So, I have decided to turn things around and gotten myself into the habit of washing all of my dishes, taking our dog Katie out for her daily walks and occasionally even cooking a meal or two.

For the past month and a half I’ve felt like I was returning to the past, echoing a lifestyle I lived before Boston University was ever even a thought in my mind. I returned to the same skate parks, crossed the same bridges and hung out with the same old friends. But in reality, Winter break is now more of a break from the fun of school than a break from its stress.

After two months of a monotonous winter break, I can finally see the horizon — in less than two weeks I will be on a flight to Shanghai, China.


我不能等! – I can’t wait!


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