Before this semester, I had miraculous survived the experience of having a long break between two classes. The longest time I’d ever had to survive was, at most, an hour and a half during lunchtime. Unfortunately, due to an unavoidable scheduling demand I ended up with a three hour break on Tuesdays from 2:15 to 5:30. Normally I try to finish my day by 3 because I hit a natural low in energy and become essentially useless. Since I don’t really have a choice this semester and it seems like a waste of gas to drive home and back (and no guarantee that I’d find parking anyway), I stay on campus from 10:30 to 8:15.
So how do I spend my three hour break?
- Do something productive. This depends on what I need to do and what choices I have, but doing something even minimally toward a goal counts as productivity in my book. This could mean reading for class, working on homework, reading for the blog, or studying for the GRE. Spending at least half of my time academically-minded means less time that I have to think or work on that stuff at home—which means more time to enjoy with The Captain.
- Have a bite to eat. Since my last class essentially ruins dinnertime on Tuesdays, having a light meal in the afternoon helps carry me through the dull haze of the cold afternoons. Luckily, there are tons of options for food on campus and I’ve started to prefer the burrito/waffle place that is in the same building I hole up in during my break. Getting something to eat will recharge your batteries, sharpen your mind, and help you keep going until your next class. (If all else fails there is coffee and caffeine pills).
- Be a social butterfly. If you have friends on campus during your break (I don’t), schedule a time and place to meet so you can catch up, gossip, work on homework together, or just hang out. For a while during one of my other semesters, my friends and I had a tabletop game group going where we played to pass the time. If you’re unable to meet in person then use social media to connect with friends, family, and the world. If all else fails call Mom.
- Work, work, work, work. If you have a job on campus or near your classes with flexible hours then why not spend your break making some money? Sometimes even work is a nice break from the skull-crushing anxiety of academia. Since my job is online, I’m able to do it anytime and anywhere, and I’ve found that spending part of my break working makes me happy, keeps me in high cotton, and isn’t a complete waste of time.
- Do something. Like Nike always says, “Just do it.” Define whatever your ‘it’ is and do that during your break. Go to the gym, join a club, meet with a professor, get some tutoring, study at the library, read a book, explore campus, make new friends, listen to music, sit in a massage chair, play a game on your phone… Just have fun to pass the time and keep boredom at bay. It’s your time—do with it what you will.
Having a long break and being on campus all day isn’t necessarily as bad as I thought it would be. This is mostly due to the power of caffeine pills, burritos, good books, and social media. Without them it would not be possible. I’m not sure what future long academic breaks may look like, but I’m sure that I’m not wasting my time now.