Thanksgiving Break is coming up and that means spending time with family and friends, eating too much food, and getting a break from the constant college stress. This semester has been more stressful than usual, for reasons that no one can quite put into words. That being said, Thanksgiving Break is really coming right in time.
It’s important to have breaks during a semester in college, as we have collectively seen from the campus-wide burnout as a result of the lack of breaks during COVID. This upcoming Thanksgiving break will adhere to the normal schedule of breaks from before COVID. Rather than finishing up the semester here and taking a good two months off before pushing through the next semester, we’re back to taking a week off and then hitting the last three weeks of the semester hard before Christmas break. Both methods of allowing for breaks have their pros and cons.
The COVID method of rushing a sixteen week semester into even fewer weeks is definitely stressful, but it yields a two month break to unwind. Even with this, it didn’t allow for Fall Break which is really important. I think it’s important to have those small breaks throughout the semester to continually allow students to chill out. This however, does not mean giving a singular day each month as a break. As we’ve seen in the 2021 Spring semester, the “Mental Health Days” just gave students a chance to catch up on homework, not actually relax and take care of their mental health (or overall health in general). Having one big break can be nice to fully relax after a stressful semester, but then the semester starts right back up again in a rush to get done quickly. This style of scheduling breaks was very problematic; I could rant for hours about how we didn’t have a Spring Break last semester but I digress.
The normal Thanksgiving break that allows students a week to relax before cramming for Finals Week and a month of Christmas break is nice for sure. It also is nice that the semester is nowhere near as rushed as last year. It is, however, hard for a student to be able to fully relax when they have to adapt from the mindset of constantly working to being able to relax, and then being thrown right back into a busy schedule of studying. It takes time to adapt and readapt to the two different environments, but the only advice given to students is to snap back out of the relaxed mindset and to “push through” because they’re almost to the end of the semester. It’s not exciting for students to have to come back just to study, try to relearn what information they may have forgotten over break, and take finals, but at least the semester is allowing students a break to escape college life momentarily.
It’s hard to say which method of Thanksgiving Break I prefer, as both have their merits and demerits. Personally, as stressful as it can be to come back after a relaxing week to remember what I had learned before break, I think it’s better in the long run. As a person who can only take so much of their family, it’s nice to get together and celebrate Thanksgiving together but then come back after a week — when my patience is starting to run hair-thin. Plus, I can take Thanksgiving leftovers back with me to help make meals the next week or so at school.
I feel many Northern Review articles (namely, mine) make the point that COVID restrictions are diminishing and thus college campuses are returning to normal college life. As much as I hate to repeat myself, I will once again for the sake of documenting history. The withdrawal of COVID regulations like social distancing and sanitizing everything — even wearing masks in some places — is beginning to bring a sense of normalcy to campus once again. Step by step, we are getting our college campus back to how it was before COVID-19. In this step, we bring back our week of Thanksgiving Break before completing final exams. Who knows what the next step will bring.