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Winter Break- My Attempt At Being More Productive Outside Of Being A Student

I'm a sophomore at Baruch. I remember last year when Winter break rolled around and I was so excited for how long it is. I also found it pretty surprising that it could be that long- though I think I'm starting to understand after this last semester. Last year I thought I'd have all the time in the world to relax, hang out with my friends, and really just do nothing. I was excited. But by the end, I had just felt like crap and when second semester came around I was scrambling to get back into the groove of things. I knew the following year I'd have to approach Winter break a different way.

It's the following year. Not at all what I, or anyone else, expected. Freshman me had no idea what was coming (poor thing!). I have been doing a lot more of nothing than I was last Winter break and it sucks. The little break from the Spring 2020 semester was nice at the beginning, but no more. The pandemic is a whole other topic that I could probably write a novel about, but I won't (you're going through it too, why would you want to hear it from me?).

The point of this post is wasted time. I have struggled so long with being proactive about my time. I used to and still do spend a lot of time watching TV. I love TV, but there's just way, way too much out there and I noticed that keeping up with it all was taking away from my time. It fits into the category of instant gratification that just makes you feel so, so much worse later on.

Okay. I'm dragging. Let's get to the point! I want to be proactive with my time. December 20th to January 27 (I think this is the first day of classes) is just too long of a break for me to be kicking back with Netflix, especially because I have no where to go (with the exception of work) because of the pandemic. So, I'm taking this time to work on the things I want to, to keep my brain active, and mentally prepare myself for next semester and my future. I've found that a lot of the things I've started doing have been making me feel really good during and after the fact. They also give me something to look forward to through out the day (the oh so long days).

Probably my favorite part of the day is when I work on my Spanish. I took Spanish for seven years in high school and middle school, and honestly I feel so pathetic because after all those years of study I can't have a basic conversation or understand native speakers. I love language (I also took Italian in high school) so I really want to learn Spanish. I want to be able to speak it and not need subtitles or translations when others speak it to me. So over break, I started spending 15 minutes a day doing Spanish. I could spend hours on it, but some of my research suggested that 15 minutes a day is much more useful in the long run. I never felt as though I had the time during the school semester for Spanish, so I am trying to make it a habit so I will make the time for it during the next semester and all to follow. I've been sticking to it and the excitement I get when I write my Spanish sentence of the day, paste it into Google Translate to see if it's right, and it is makes me so giddy and confident!

Another favorite activity of mine is video + photography. I have loved photography for quite a while, but recently I started a YouTube channel and have been spending a lot of time on TikTok which have been getting me into video making and editing. I block out about an hour in my schedule to read or watch videos on either of the two subjects. At the same time, I usually take notes in a bunch of different styles, because after 15 years of schooling I still don't know what studying/note taking habits work best for me! The process of editing videos or photos can be really frustrating for me, but when it's done and I'm happy with the results, and other people give me positive feedback, it feels so good. I know how hard I worked and it's nice to see that hard work appreciated by myself and others.

Bullet journaling and organization is also something that I have really enjoyed. At first I found it nagging to take on bullet journaling because I felt like I didn't have anything to write about (again, the pandemic), but this just isn't true. I picked up a pen and just started to write a little bit about what I did that boring day, then bam! Feelings are flowing, doodles are covering the empty spots, teardrops on the page (kidding... kinda). Lighting a candle, playing some groovy music, grabbing my markers and pens and outlining my coming month is just so therapeutic, especially when it comes out the way I intended. As for organization, I've been obsessing with the app Notion and videos from Mariana's Study Corner and Janice Studies on YouTube. They've been getting me so excited about the coming semester (let's just hope the excitement lasts until the end!). I highly recommend checking them out, especially as we near the beginning of the next semester.

These are some of the things that I've been doing to be more productive and enjoy my time, but I'm definitely not productive every hour of the day and that's totally fine! Just remember to enjoy your time and whatever that means to you. I'd love to hear some of your plans for the rest of break or self-learning ventures! Feel free to comment them.

Stay safe darlings!

Lily Burns


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