While finals week is undeniably draining, your mind is still in the mood to learn over Winter break. It’s just like having a really tough workout...after you’ve had time to rest, your body starts to want to workout again.
Still, it’s pretty easy to ignore these strange desires. Winter breaks are usually made up of mindless fun, excessive sleeping and a plague-like avoidance of anything academic. If you choose to spend your break in this fashion, go for it. No judgment here.
But on the off chance that you were so awe-inspired and intrigued during your first semester that you would like to continue feeding your hungry mind, consider these steps to keep that momentum going.
Wake up early-ish: Extra hours of sleep is the first thing your mind and body won’t see coming. While it won’t hurt to defy your internal clock and sleep much later than you did in college, it will take a big bite out of your mornings, which is usually the most productive part of a person's day. Instead try to be receptive to this gift and wake up when your body tells you to, instead of going back to sleep for several half hours in a row. Sticking to this pattern will eliminate drowsiness and sharpen your morning mind (on a scale of one to ten how much do I sound like a pharmaceutical commercial like right now?)
Do morning things: Once you’re up, try to get to work. Cook with a podcast on, sit down with your breakfast and beverage of choice, start reading, writing or watching videos while your mind wakes up. Starting early not only affirms the “was I productive today?” question that lingers throughout these lazy winter weeks, but it also gives you free time at night to do whatever life throws at you.
Get into some subreddits: In the modern world all interesting discussions on specific topics live on subreddits. If you really enjoyed a certain topic (molecular biology, history, Old-English literature) then check out some subreddits that delve deep into the subjects.
Take a trip to the bookstore: There’s no easier way to get into the ‘readin and a learnin’ mood then by going to a cool bookstore and buying enough books to last you a full year in sweet solitude. These don’t have to be related to your major, or any other classes you found interesting (although we do recommend it). As long as you’re spending the break doing some reading you’ll keep your mind sharp.
Write: If you don’t like writing then I’m not going to tell you to give yourself an assignment, but it is a really good way to organize what you’re learning and construct your opinions and ideas. So if you do like writing, then I would suggest that you give yourself a weekly writing goal. It in no way has to be overly ambitious, you don’t need to spin a stirring short story, just sit down and write out your thoughts on something you’re reading or on an important topic. If you don’t feel like being imaginative at all, just try and explain a topic you studied by writing it out without doing any research.
Look back at course topics: This doesn’t have to be from the boring text book. You can reread chapters of fiction books you had to read, research a certain topic on wikipedia or watch YouTube videos that explain things you had studied. Maybe you can just find a magazine related to your major and pick interesting articles to read. The goal here is just to take another look at things you’ve learned so that you have a much higher chance of retaining the information.
Have discussions with friends: Crazy idea right? Who wants to spend time talking about Beowulf or wind powered technology or whatever you're studying? Fortunately, you’d be surprised about the amount of people willing to nerd out after their first semester. Try bringing it up on a lazy day, but if your friends would rather gossip, just gossip.
Take breaks: If this list has inspired you to delve courageously into a month of self-guided knowledge consumption, make sure you come back up for air every now and then. See some friends, spend time with your family, and don’t stress yourself out thinking you need to be a machine of productivity. Just do it if you like it. And if you like it do it well.