The Holidays Away from Home

Of all the times students are in most danger of getting homesick, the holiday season is by far the most common. As soon as Christmas music starts piping in grocery stores and the first winter flurry comes in, it’s all-too-easy to get swept up in the nostalgia of holidays past. But that flurry of snow is nothing compared to the avalanche of inevitable end-of-semester assignments, and it’s much more tempting to watch Elf and curl up with a cup of hot cocoa than buckle down and study.
So how does one overcome homesickness and struggle through the last few weeks of the semester? While it’s never an easy feat, the following tips will hopefully be of help:
• Bring the holiday cheer to you: Make your own winter wonderland in your own new home. Coat your dorm or hall with cheap decorations, or make some of your own; a bit of wrapping paper and tape can go a long way if you’re up for making paper snowflakes or chains. Although it’s not as homey as real home, making your space as cheery as possible will distract you from thinking about how much you want to be back with mom and dad.
• Stick to a schedule: Don’t go off your regular schedule just because it’s the holidays. If anything, staying busy is even more important toward the end of the semester. You’ll feel much less swamped with assignments and studying if you know where you’re going to be at what time every day. Having a solid schedule keeps your mind focused, even with a bombardment of holiday distractions.
• Call home: Don’t Skype Mom and Dad too often—seeing them put up the Christmas tree without you is bound to make homesickness hit with a vengeance—but hearing their voices during the season of family is a surefire way to bring your spirits up.
• Stay active: Winter is going to make you feel like hibernating, which is completely natural; you’re exhausted from a long semester of work, and the cold weather just makes you want to curl up in bed and take a long nap. Although giving in periodically is necessary, it’s important to get as much activity as possible. Trekking to the gym in sub-zero weather sounds miserable at first, but you’ll feel ready to conquer your schoolwork once you’ve gotten some movement in your day.
• Celebrate: Although keeping up with work is important, enjoying the season is crucial for your mental wellbeing. Attend holiday club parties and host movie nights in your room, and make some seasonal traditions of your own. These should be done in moderation, of course, but a bit of holiday spirit will help you stay sane and happy.

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