Up until twelfth grade, winter break had always been the longest break of the school year— a whopping two weeks long! Right before the holidays, classes would begin to stall. Talks of cupcakes, candy-canes, gifts and Secret-Santa’s would float through the hallways, blanketing the entire school in a haze of holiday excitement.

Once the holidays began to approach in college, however, the atmosphere was on the complete opposite end of the spectrum; a majority of students were in an over-caffeinated state of frenzy, agonizing over upcoming December exams, living in the library for multiple days straight in order to study for finals. However, the reward was well worth it: an entire month of no school, no homework, and above all, no exams!

For once, as the prospect of winter break loomed closer, I was excited not for the gifts, nor the hot cocoa, nor even to ornate the Christmas tree— I was just excited to go home to my family, who I hadn’t seen in months. I hadn’t even traveled back down for Thanksgiving break, and the withdrawal was hitting me hard.

The minute I landed, bundled up in a thick parka, hat, and gloves, I felt the warm, humid South Texas air clinging to my skin. Never had I ever thought I would miss this horrible, terrible humidity, but I peeled off my jacket with a huge grin and practically bounded towards the exit.

Finally home.

It was a momentous occasion, coming back after my first semester at college thousands of miles from home. I chatted away non-stop to my father all throughout the two-hour long drive home from the airport, which, admittedly, surprised the both of us— I never thought I’d have so much to say, but here it was, all spilling out of me almost uncontrollably.

Oh, how I missed my bed. The aqua blue walls of my room. The way the ocean downtown gleamed in the horizon, and how the palm trees swayed this way and that as the winds roared in one of the top ten windiest cities in America.

The month-long break served as a time to reflect and meditate over my first semester here, both the good and the bad; to bundle up all of the pent-up frustration I’d been carrying around and slowly let it dissolve away. I shed my former stresses and spent my time shopping for Christmas gifts, arranging a small New Year’s Eve party at my house, having potluck dinners with my friends, and wondering what I could do to make my second semester of college more effective and impactful than my first.

I had finally gained some sort of perspective, however small, on the ins and outs of college life, and was already making plans to improve myself both academically and mentally. Being home made me realize all that I had taken for granted— having friends and family constantly close by, not having to do my own laundry (mostly), not having to walk to get groceries, being able to drive myself around, having the spare time to catch up on books and movies that had begun to pile up on my to-do list, and so on.

But it also gave me the opportunity to count all the blessings Whitman College has afforded me thus far: a prestigious education; a chance to gain my own independence skills; a chance to explore and become acclimated to an entirely new environment; and a chance to get to know the interesting, diverse range of students both within and outside of my class.

By the time the holidays came to a close, my resolutions were set. As the bus that picked me up from my flight carried me closer and closer back to Whitman, I was determined to make the most out of my last semester of my first year.

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