The holiday season is a time when most students living on campus pack up and head home, eager for some long-awaited family time.
But for some, the time is too short and the airfare too expensive to journey home. We had the opportunity to chat with University of Toronto undergraduate student Aathira Kottapurath about spending her winter break on campus. Here are the top 4 things she learned from her experience
1. You won’t be the only one
Don’t worry, this won’t be Home Alone: University Edition. While there will be a lot fewer people on campus during the holidays, there will be other students in the same boat as you. “I didn’t expect to see anyone so I was surprised to see a few people on campus,” says Aathira.
In some ways, staying on campus over the holidays reminded her a lot of the first few weeks of university. You might not know anybody at first, but if you take the initiative to strike up a conversation with other students, you’ll make some new friends before you know it.
2. Stay in touch with friends and family
Thanks to technology, there are lots of ways to be ‘virtually’ home for the holidays. For example, Aathira used Skype to stay in touch with family and friends. Additionally, Aathira suggests that if you have friends who live nearby, plan a visit to see them and stay with them for a bit. It will help you stay connected and get a change of scenery.
3. Take time to reflect & plan ahead
Without all the hustle and bustle of the normal school year, you’ll finally have some quiet time to think and reflect. For example, Aathira realized that staying on campus over the holidays would be somewhat similar to what it would be like to relocate for a new job, as both involve an element of venturing outside of your comfort zone to meet new people and adapt to a different environment. “It was a glimpse into that [experience] and better prepared me in that way,” she says. She also used the extra time to get a head start on her personal and academic to-do lists.
4. Get involved
“There are still events going on with campus organizations throughout December that people attend,” says Aathira. She says she would try to attend as many events as possible, as well as check out local festivities happening in the cities with other friends on campus and living in the area.
While Aathira admits that she did feel lonely at times during her stay, she also found plenty of ways to make the most of her holiday break on campus. “Always know that there are opportunities; there’s always things to do,” she says. “It’s just taking the initiative!”
—Interview conducted by Sarah Boodram.