Winter breaks can be rough. We spend the entire semester dreaming about all you’re going to do once you have five minutes to breathe, and then December rolls around and we forget all of our nice plans. You (and yes, I am projecting) waste days in bed watching Vine compilations on your phone, only getting up to do your skincare routine and grab berries from the fridge so you can eat them out of your hand like a sad, wounded, forest animal while you read Tracee Ellis Ross’s Wikipedia page.
No more! This winter, we’re going to be staving off that seasonal affective disorder and inter-semester boredom in a healthy, productive way. Here are my recommendations.
Learn a new language
Last summer I got bored, re-downloaded Duolingo, and learned Norwegian just for the kick of it. It only lasted a few weeks but it made me feel smart and productive while I was doing it, and I’ve retained a passable knowledge of basic words and phrases. There are tons of benefits of learning a second (or third, or fourth, or fifth) language, not least of which is that it actually improves your grasp on English grammar rules. Luckily for us, the Internet is chock-full of resources, apps and programs of varying prices (and accuracy) to assist you on your journey. Plus, with over 145 different languages spoken in Houston, I can’t think of a better environment to practice your new skills in.
Support Houston arts and entertainment
Houston has a vibrant and growing arts scene, and the easiest way to support it is by just showing up. Here in Third Ward, Project Row House is revitalizing the area through art without gentrification. With a constant stream of events and incoming artists from near and far, you’re bound to find something you’ll love. If performances are more your thing, we’ve got that too. The Alley Theatre will be showing their production of “A Christmas Carol” through November and December, and they offer a pretty decent student discount if you call and ask (the squeaky wheel gets the oil!). If you hate having to get dressed up to see a good show, The Secret Group is considerably less formal and features local bands and comedians all the time with multiple shows pretty much every night.
Get a part-time job
Listen. You knew this was coming. Chances are we’re all broke here, and since we have the time off anyhow, you might as well profit off of it. Pull up that good ole Indeed page, look for (preferably paid) internships in your field, or just shake down all of your professors and connections until a research position falls out. The world is your expensive oyster and you are the broke pearl.
Read! Reading is good! Make Levar Burton proud of you. Get a library card in your hometown, dust off your old one, or just stay on campus; the MD Anderson Library will be staying open over most of winter break with adjusted hours. You already pay tuition, so you might as well take advantage of it. In the words of RuPaul, reading is fundamental – and on that note, if you’re staying in Houston over the break, be sure to check out the Drag Queen Storytime on Dec. 29th at the Freed-Montrose Neighborhood Library.