The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

The independent student newspaper at the University of Illinois since 1871

The Daily Illini

Opinion | Silencing the second-semester slump

Anne Schmidt
A student walks to classes sheltered with an umbrella at Nevada Street on Jan. 25, amongst high fog and misty weather throughout the day.

The inception of a new year infuses one with a sense of optimism and motivation; with the promise of endless possibilities ahead. The allure of a fresh start captivates many, inspiring ambitious goals and resolutions. However, as the remnants of the festive season dissipate, the abrupt return to reality becomes apparent.

The once vibrant dreams of the new year lose some of their luster as individuals grapple with the challenges of transitioning from the joyous holiday season to the routine of daily life. The rose-colored glasses worn by new-year dreamers are momentarily set aside, revealing the complexities and demands that lie ahead in the journey of the upcoming year.

After a long month of rest and restoration, one would expect the beginning of a semester to be full of opportunities and excitement. However, as I stepped onto the campus grounds, it became evident that this semester was going to be a stark contrast to the vibrant and energetic atmosphere of the fall semester. The skies were shrouded in thick, gray clouds, casting a somber hue over the entire campus. 

The contrast between the two semesters was not lost on me. The warmth and brightness that characterized the beginning of the academic year had given way to a cold and dreary ambiance. Instead of students lounging on the green lawns, engrossed in animated conversations under the sun, I found deserted walkways and huddled figures rushing to escape the weather.

In the fall semester, the campus was alive with the promise of new friendships, exciting classes and the anticipation of endless possibilities. Now, it felt as if the weather itself was mirroring the challenges that awaited us. The once-inviting spaces seemed to echo with a sense of seriousness, as if the atmosphere itself had shifted to match the demands of the academic workload ahead.

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If you resonate with this quite gloomy description, it is quite possible you are part of a popular phenomenon deemed the “January Blues.” This concept has grown in popularity over the media as many individuals have expressed their struggles during this time. 

Although motivation may be low, there is a way to bring light to such a gloomy beginning of the semester. Being someone who has experienced the January Blues, I have found some solutions to make the campus atmosphere as well as my academic motivation shine.

I have noticed that part of the second-semester slump can contribute to spending too much time in one place. To combat this, I have found that getting out of my apartment a couple of times per day has been quite beneficial. Working out, taking a walk around campus and studying in new places, such as libraries, are refreshing ways to invigorate one’s mental health during such gloomy times. 

Another way to combat the trials of the second semester is spending time with others. Spending time with friends not only serves as a break from the stress of academics but also offers an outlet to express your feelings to those whom you know and trust. 

While I may not possess all the solutions to ward off the January Blues, the strategies discussed above have been instrumental in helping me navigate through the initial challenges of a new semester. 

It’s essential to recognize that embracing a positive mindset, establishing routines, seeking support and engaging in uplifting activities can significantly contribute to overcoming the seasonal blues. 

As we embark on this journey, it’s comforting to remember that sometimes, the best approach is to simply give our best effort and patiently await the arrival of warm and sunny days ahead. With a resilient spirit and a commitment to personal well-being, we can tackle the gloominess of January and stride confidently into the promise of a brighter semester.


Sofia is a junior in LAS.

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