Holiday slump, holiday sparkle

Rooftops and walkways dusted with snow near a campus gate.

The three weeks between Thanksgiving and Christmas are simultaneously my favorite and least favorite weeks of the year. On one hand, they’re the most beautiful weeks at Yale—there’s usually snow, the decorations are beautiful, and there are so many fun events going on. On the other hand, exams and papers are looming ahead.

I also remember these three weeks in senior year being stressful. At my high school, homecoming was the week before Christmas break. I was juggling to balance Spirit Week planning (hey, figuring out costumes is serious work) with my college applications and a pile of homework that never seemed to decrease. In that spirit, here are two tips to manage the stress and the holiday cheer.1) When writing, go with your gut
You know the feeling—a pile of applications and essays to write, a lot of feedback, and little motivation. Well, whether for a term paper or for a college application, there has to be a point where you let go and do what you think is best. Maybe your real passion is skydiving, and you think it would make a great essay. Maybe you want to write about cooking with your parents. Go for it.

I’m not saying you should ignore the advice you get. It’s really important to have people you trust to take a look at your work and make sure you’re headed in the right direction. Remember that your admissions officers (and professors, as I remind myself) are real people too, and they want to read about something you care about, and hopefully enjoyed writing about.

2) Take a break!
Drink some tea! Turn off your laptop, but hit save first! Frolic in the snow (or under the palm trees) and figure out your homecoming costumes! This tip isn’t just for high school seniors either—Yale gives us lots of opportunities to take a break during this busy time of year. Pierson, my residential college, provides us with tons of snacks and delicious surprises the week before exams. It’s impossible not to enjoy the ornaments, lights, and wrapping paper in all of the dining halls as well.

Events like the Kwanzakah party (created by the Black Student Alliance at Yale and Yale Hillel) also give Yale students a chance to put the books aside for a while and stretch our legs. And of course, no one could forget Yale’s Holiday dinner. Just for freshmen, the dinner features a parade and giant ice sculptures. I really wish I could attend it again! Thus far, my favorite moment this winter has been an impromptu Christmas tree decorating in my friend’s suite, complete with hot chocolate and off-key caroling. Well, not all of us can be in an a cappella group.

Overall, the holiday season can be stressful, but a little bit of time management goes a long way. There’s no reason that homework, essays, and applications should prevent you from having a blast with your friends—and sometimes, a study break is just what you need. Write about what you love, and it will be so much easier to finish everything on time.

A group of girls taking a photo together at the freshman college holiday dinner

Holiday dinner in Commons with the girls from my floor!