Surviving Your First College Break
By: Erika Jaramillo
After the stress of midterms and finals, the only thing on your mind is relaxation and college break. While both you and your parents may be anticipating your return home, be prepared for the possibility that things might not look or feel the same way as you remember them. This is due to a variety of factors. For example, the independence and freedom you experienced in college may not be available once you return home, causing much frustration. The amount of time you spent away from your family may allow you to grow and change into an entirely new person with a new set of values and beliefs. These factors, among many others, can change your relaxing college break into a stressful one. But there are ways to ensure your first college break runs smoothly. Below are some tips on how to deal with common problems that may arise on your first college break.
The first thing you want to do is discuss with your parents any major changes that have occurred, physically or religiously for example, so there are no sudden surprises. Did you shave your head? Get a tattoo? Piercing? Maybe you’re a vegetarian now or switched to Scientology? Whatever the case, it’s important that you give your parents a heads up. Despite what you might think, when parents overreact to your new love of tofu, it’s not because they don’t necessarily approve of your new lifestyle choice, but it’s because they’re hurt that you kept them out of the loop. They want to know what’s going on in your life. On the same note, your parents are going to want to talk about school and your college adventures. While you might want to immediately hang out with hometown friends, be prepared to spend some quality time with your family and discuss what’s going on in your life. There’s no way to get around it without hurting their feelings. The second thing to know is that although your parents might be extremely hospitable the first few days, don’t expect to be treated like a guest the entire time. If you want your parents to treat you like an adult, it’s important that you continue to do the same independent-minded activities you did in college, such as doing your own laundry and cleaning your own room. Lastly, while you might be used to staying out all hours of the night with no curfew, that is subject to change once you come home, especially if your parents gave you a curfew in high school. Instead of creating hostility and being disrespectful to your parents by coming home when you please, the topic of setting a new curfew needs to be discussed straight-on. If you want to set a later curfew, say so. If they don’t grant you the desired time, you can probably compromise and meet in the middle.
It’s also important to know that just as you might have changed in college, your siblings might have too. Try to reconnect with them and discover what they’ve been up to since you’ve been gone. Also, try your best not to dominate too much. Remember that they’re used to you not being around now, and if you barge in hogging the computer, phone or invading their personal space, it can create a lot of tension.
Finally, the first couple of days of your break will probably be fantastic. You’ll sleep in a lot, catch up with old friends and lounge around. But depending on what college you attend, breaks can last up to a month long and boredom can set in. If the boredom becomes unbearable, give yourself a project or get a hobby. You can even get a seasonal job if you want to make some cash during your break.