Take a ‘real’ break this summer

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At Cal, we’re used to going from class to class, job to job and office hour to office hour — from dawn until dusk. It’s a hectic life during the semester with studying, working and still trying to spend time with as many equally stressed-out friends as possible. So when finals roll around and the semester is ending, we desperately look forward to a break.

However, if we go home, many of us start to miss the Berkeley frenzy. Once we catch up on some sleep and get a few home-cooked meals in our bear bellies, a new kind of anxiety — completely unassociated with papers or exams — sets in. It’s the prospect of ennui, boredom, that terrifies us most. After going and going for a whole year, we might start to feel antsy — especially if we’re not working, interning or traveling during summer break. If we will be traveling or working later in the summer, we might prefer to jump right into that instead of relaxing a little bit. Either way, we might be itching to get back to work when we’ve barely been on summer break for two weeks.

After a long haul through grueling classes, it’s actually a bit terrifying to spend three months without school. As college students, we’ve basically been defined by our studies in our majors. What’s the first thing that everyone asked when we showed up at Cal, and what did our friends’ parents ask when we came back home? What’s your major?

Even if we are taking summer classes or working, it’s still different from the regular semester. It may be a paid internship directly related to our majors. It may be work experience slightly deviating from what we’re getting our degrees in. It may be a community college class back home to finish lower-division prerequisites. We could be doing something that is completely related to our studies, or it could be something equally enriching but on a different track.

That can be mind-boggling if all our studies at Cal have been focused on one thing. It can also be scary if we’ve never had a job or an internship before. We might be tempted to constantly think about throwing all our efforts into working on whatever new project we have for the summer.

But it’s important that we take a break from the regular stressful routine — whether it’s for the entire summer or just a few weeks before starting summer term or a job. After all, didn’t we all feel a bit burned out by the end of spring semester? It’s easy to get caught up in the craziness and feel that we always have to be doing something— especially if everyone else has already begun their summer work and travel plans. It’s hard leaving our Berkeley friends who understand all the same stresses that we’ve felt throughout the school year. But before we come back to Berkeley, we should appreciate the time we have away from the stress.

Maybe we will find that absence really does make the heart grow fonder.

Image source: steve hanna under Creative Commons

Contact Jessica Rogness at [email protected] and follow her on Twitter @jessarogness.