Break provides time for academic and non-academic opportunities

As the term winds down, it’s hard to keep your thoughts on finals instead of the six glorious weeks that await when you finish up—gorging yourself on your parents’ dollar, hanging out with high school buddies and abusing your Netflix account until you find yourself watching a dozen episodes of “Rugrats” one afternoon.

The fantasy may sustain us over the next week and a half, but let’s face the reality: After a few weeks of cooking for yourself, you’ll start to pine for Andrew Commons; your high school friends won’t be back for the first three weeks; you’re stuck in your hellhole of a hometown; and watching “Rugrats” now may ruin your childhood—if you don’t believe me, just re-watch the opening sequence, but be warned.

How can you make the most of our calendar system instead of becoming a gluttonous couch potato? Here are several ways that Lawrence students can take advantage of winter break.

Seek out short-term “Life After Lawrence” opportunities. Winter break is an opportune time to intern at a group or company in which you are interested, in an official or unofficial capacity.

Students can utilize the Career Center to obtain information about internship availability, or can simply reach out to organizations. If devoting your whole break to a group or company seems daunting, it might be just as beneficial to contact several organizations relating to the industries that interest you to set up informational interviews. Rather than interviewing for employment with a company, an informational interview allows you to learn more about a line of work and get answers to any questions you may have. The Career Center can help students with either of these endeavors—LUWorks features a database of internships available for winter break and beyond, and the staff of the Career Center can connect you with alumni in your field of interest.

Work the holiday rush. Besides the obvious, Lawrentians have an advantage over students at schools with different calendar systems: Our availability from Thanksgiving through New Year’s makes us prime candidates for seasonal jobs. Many department stores will hire additional staff during the holiday season. Sure, you might feel like you’re living in Andrew Commons during the half hour after Freshmen Studies lets out, but you’ll get some extra cash and a staff discount, both of which will allow you to stock up on gifts for friends and family.

Take up a hobby. This might be one of the most obvious things to do during break, but it bears reminding: Do the things you claim to have no time to do at school. The Internet is a wonderful thing, and one of many reasons for that is how accessible it makes learning random new skills. Tutorials abound on YouTube on how to knit, tie sailing knots or master a new dance move, and Pinterest is a bounty of easy do-it-yourself projects and recipes. Similarly, maybe it’s a good time to learn Grandma’s famous brisket recipe or accompany Dad on his early morning bike rides. If you can’t fathom waking up before the sun is up, you can keep active over break by joining a local gym or YMCA—many gyms will offer month-long memberships for college students home on break.

Travel and learn abroad with Lawrence faculty and students. Looking ahead to next year and beyond, check out some of the awesome opportunities different departments offer to students for international learning. Sustainable China: Environment and Economy, is a cross-listed Economics, Environmental Studies and Government class in which students explore “topics relevant for understanding sustainability in the Chinese context, including economic development, natural resource management, urban growth and environmental policy.” After taking this class in the fall, students and faculty embark on a trip to China in December to undertake a research project and further their understanding of the concepts explored in the course.

Another child of cross-listing between the three aforementioned departments is the Field Experience in Sierra Leone. Similar to the Sustainable China program, students enrolled in the course spend fall term “develop[ing] and implement[ing] a project that concerns economic, political, and/or environmental issues important in Sierra Leone,” and supplement their research during an 18-day trip to the country. Students continue working on their projects into Winter Term in a continuation of the class, after which students have the opportunity to present their research to the Lawrence community.

Additionally, other departments have vague conceptions of developing future winter break trips, so, underclassmen, bugging your advisors about the idea may pay off by the time you’re a senior.

We should all spend this break enjoying ourselves. We work our butts off here, and we deserve these six weeks! But that doesn’t mean the solution is necessarily being sedentary or unproductive. Remember that, regardless of how you spend them, those weeks will fly by—and it’s a lot more exciting to watch two soccer moms get in fisticuffs over the last size 7 black Uggs in Nordstrom than to watch every episode of “Boy Meets World.”