The In-Between: Making the Most of Winter Break

The words "Winter Break" are above a happy snowman

It’s Winter Break, and I’m about midway through my time at home. Aside from the obvious, like relaxing and spending time with family and friends, here’s a bit of what I’ve been up to:

Learning to Swim

My younger sister is an excellent swimmer, and competes on a local swim team. I am not an excellent swimmer, although I once swam to a log and back while at a lake with friends. So, for Christmas this year, I asked my sister to teach me how to swim – and she agreed to. Over the past few days, we’ve been taking up a lane at one of our local pools prior to her swim practices. I’m learning a lot about proper freestyle form, breathing techniques, and the like. On the continuum from “will drown immediately if I ever fall off a boat into the Pacific” to “he would’ve made it to shore if only the hypothermia hadn’t set in,” I’m hoping to move significantly toward the latter before she has to go back to school.

Reading a Course Packet

Course Packet for "The Psychology of Argument and Persuasion"

I’m about halfway through the readings in this packet.

A few semesters back, I desperately wanted to take a course called “The Psychology of Argument and Persuasion,” taught as a seminar by Peter Wicks. It didn’t fit into my schedule, but I arranged a meeting with Dr. Wicks, where we walked around campus and talked a bit about the course material. He also gave me a 300-page packet of readings to peruse at my leisure. I’ve decided it’s high time that I get around to it. Some texts have been mystifying, like Aristotle’s Rhetoric (The Rule of Threes is great, but he goes overboard with it). Others have been enjoyable (George Orwell’s Politics and the English Language, which is a classic) and quite enlightening (James Madison’s Federalist 10 was fascinating to read in a reflective context). If I make it through all 300 pages before I go, I’ll be quite pleased.

Trying Yoga

Lately, I’ve been feeling inflexible. Yoga is notorious for making you more flexible. I’ve signed up for Yoga With Adriane’s January yoga challenge, and been doing a bit of yoga along with Youtube instructors to prepare. The stretches can be difficult. Holding the poses for what is surely a yoga-appropriate amount of time makes me antsy. But that’s how I know it’s good for me. Yale is a fast-paced, distracting place. I’m hoping to cultivate some mindfulness to bring back with me.

Finishing Season 2 of The White Lotus

Logo for HBO's The White Lotus

Logo for HBO’s The White Lotus.

TV time is sparse during finals season. I started to watch the second season of The White Lotus with another Yalie, but it soon became hard to coordinate our schedules With Teleparty and our Yale-provided HBO Max subscriptions, we were able to watch together remotely once the dust from finals season had settled. I won’t share any spoilers. But my attention was certainly held while we watched people be unkind to each other for something like nine hours in total. Mike White certainly knows how to leave you mulling.

Visiting Schools Through the Yale Ambassador Program

The Admissions Office started the Yale Ambassadors program a few years back to encourage students who might not know about Yale to consider applying. When I was a junior and senior navigating the college admissions process, someone from a high school in a neighboring community decided to go to Yale and encouraged me to submit an application. Yale is no panacea (no college or university is), but it’s a great place to be. So I’m excited to share a bit more about it with high school students in my community when I visit the high school I graduated from and our rival high school later in January.

Filling out FAFSA & CSS Profile

Woman cradles her head in her hands in front of computer
This is how I feel sometimes filling out the FAFSA and CSS Profile. Sometimes, you just have to keep on trucking to get it done.

Paperwork! Not to claim more of the wisdom of age than I deserve, but the older I get, the more I believe that applying to things defines a significant portion of life. Winter Break is the perfect time to sit down with my family and complete the FAFSA and CSS Profile. Between gathering documents, filling out forms, and taking breaks, it usually takes us a couple of days to finish these. It’s absolutely worth it for financial aid, though.

There’s also a few odds and ends I’ll be taking care of while I’m home, like getting a haircut, sorting through my clothes, scheduling doctors appointments, and hunting for summer internships. As big as my aspirations are, I surely won’t get to everything I want to do. But that’s okay. Winter Break is, after all, a break; what will be will be.