The Daily Illini

Winter break a time for relaxation, productivity

By Kate Cullen

While many will revel in the four long weeks of winter break by not emerging from their beds until well after noon, watching every season of a television series on Netflix or becoming an immovable fixture on the couch — others may choose to spend their break in a more productive manner. 

For those of you whose brains have not been completely fried by finals and cannot imagine being immobile for more than five minutes, here are some alternatives to wasting your days in your pajamas. But no judgment to those who consider lying around all day an art; I respect your endurance and determination. 

Many students choose to find a job over winter break to gain a little extra cash for the holiday season. Retailers, such as Nordstrom, are always looking to hire seasonal employees during their busy season, and students jump on the opportunity to take full advantage of the employee discount. Working in the mall may not be your style, but if you’re anything like me, you’ll spend the majority of your time there shopping for the holidays anyway. Taking advantage of all of the discounts is a full-time job, and someone has to do it. 

If you’re not looking to start a new, part-time job, consider asking your employer from over the summer if you can punch in a few extra hours over break. Not only will they appreciate your enthusiasm, but you also won’t have to go through the hassle of learning the ropes all over again or meeting new people. 

Winter internships are also gaining popularity among employers and students. Not only does a winter internship offer students great experiences in a short amount of time, but it can also be useful when applying to jobs for the summer. If the employer likes you, then you could be offered a position for the summer and avoid the March Madness application season. 

While many may be hesitant to work over break, it could be better in the long run. Sleeping in is overrated anyway. 

If finding a new job is not for you, consider trying something new. 

Plan day trips with your friends or family and have a new experience. Go ice-skating in Millennium Park, visit a museum, go skiing in Wisconsin — you have a month all to yourself, so fill it with memorable experiences that stimulate the mind and body. 

While working out can be a difficult task during the holiday season, and leaving the warmth of your home may seem impossible, hot yoga is a great alternative to traditional exercise. It will keep you warm, give you a great workout that will leave you exhausted and you’ll feel refreshed for all of the various holiday festivities. 

Going abroad for winter break is perfect for students who are looking for adventure or who do not want to commit to going away for a full semester. 

While it may be a little late to apply to programs at this point, this may be a viable option for winter break next year. Studying abroad over winter break is great for seniors who were not able to travel during a previous semester and provides students with the opportunity to live in a new country for a month. 

Many students overlook winter break as an option for studying abroad because they underestimate how much time we have off from school. But there are many great programs offered by the University that students can benefit from, such as service learning trips or voluntourism trips. 

If none of these options appeal to you, perhaps you’re simply looking forward to spending time with friends and family this holiday season. Maybe you can help your family members prepare for a holiday party, volunteer to wrap presents or try your hand at cooking a festive dish. 

Your help will be appreciated and you’ll also be able to spend quality time away from your books and with the people you care about. And I think that’s a pretty productive use of time. 

With finals upon us, spending a month on the couch sounds ideal. But a month is a long time, and you may get a little stir crazy watching endless television shows and eating delicious holiday treats.

It may be tough, but consider putting on your pants, getting a job, having new experiences or spending quality time with those you love this holiday season.

Kate is a senior in LAS. She can be reached at [email protected]

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