7 Things to Accomplish over Spring Break

20 Mar

Spring BreakAs the days get warmer (and thank goodness, longer) we try to get out and about as much as possible. For students this may mean becoming more involved in extracurricular activities and clubs or reviving that old commitment to fitness. Spring Break is here for Atlanta University students, and as I enjoy the week long break I’ve been thinking of how best to utilize my time. A break from studies is a definite necessity sometimes, but that doesn’t mean the planning and informal education should take a siesta too.




Here a list of 7 things students should try to accomplish this break:

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1. Read an old favorite. We read a lot for our classes as is, but taking time for personal reading is important for mental development. It’s also important for the creative thought process which you use every day. Reading is a relaxing pastime that helps develop our brains. It not only makes our brains stronger, reading often lets us  feel like we are experiencing new things vicariously. “According to Cristel Russell, a consumer behavior researcher at American University, reading a favorite book over and over again can be a way by which past experiences are relived like new ones or with new perspectives.”  Reading also provides great conversation fodder. Mention the content or theme of a book you’ve been reading, and see where a conversation goes. Books are cheap. Often for the price of shipping you can get a new (or old!) favorite. And if you’ve got an e-reader, it’s even easier!




2. Reconnect with a hobby. Running, painting, crochet: Whatever the task, if it’s been on hold for more than 4 months, time to start up again. Hobbies are important not only for stress relief but also because they create culture. A hobby can help shape who you are, and they help others find ways to connect with you. Mention at a dinner party you’ve been researching your ancestry for the past few years and you might be surprised who joins the conversation. For those out there with nothing to do over the break, hobbies are a great way to combat under stimulation. Hobbies provide eustress which is vital to a healthy, fulfilled life.


3. See a live show. On any given evening in Atlanta, you can find an artist to see. Atlanta has 62+ music venues within the city limits—and that’s not counting  the  Taco Mac bands on Thursday night. Live shows are a great way to experience albums as they were intended to be heard. With the advent of “digitally remastered” albums, the mp3s we love so much are usually robbing us of the original sound quality. Through a process called dynamic range compression,  records are made to sound “loud” even when they shouldn’t. I love my mp3s, and have no feeling one way or the other about vinyl superiority–that conversation is for other people, but I will say that taking in a show with fellow revelers provides a sense of community and belonging. There’s a definite stress relief in climbing rickety stairs or sitting in the balcony to watch an artist take the stage. Live events may also lead to chance encounters with future friends. Recently I attended a weekend music festival in Chicago. Later, when one of the many weekends’ artists was in Atlanta, I started conversation with a fellow reveler during a show. We realized during the course of conversation that we’d both been at the Chicago festival.  We lost track of each other after the show—she lived in Florida, so I never thought I’d run into her again. Months later while attending a friends’ birthday dinner, I was seated at the end of a long table with people I didn’t know. Halfway into the meal I realize I’m talking with my long lost Chicago weekend/Atlanta show friend. She’s now relocated from Florida to Georgia! We startled many a table when realization dawned on us–seriously, what are the odds?!  You never know when a show could change your life, or your opportunities.

12_bigstock_Travel_America_3043215 - Copy4.Travel somewhere new. This doesn’t have to be a full blown vacation: We’re college students; we don’t always have disposable funds at hand. But if you’ve got a tank of gas, you could head out for a day trip. For those of us in Atlanta, Tellus Science museum in Cartersville might be a great day trip. Cartersville has some interesting historical sites and Lake Allatoona is nearby. Traveling outside of our normal radius is educational in and of itself—driving a new route, seeing new scenery; but it can also lead to new perspectives and chance encounters.  Staying home is great sometimes, but it can cause stagnation. Getting out gives you the possibility of changed perceptions and experiences.

5. Take a lesson. You might be thinking, “Why would I want to spend an extra minute learning something else when I’m on break?” and I’d say to you, “Because living is learning.” Life is speeding up. It’s hard just to keep up, let alone get an edge. As students, we need every edge we can get. Harvey Mackay author of Swim with the Sharks( Without Being Eaten Alive), says it best, “The more talents you have, the more valuable you are.”  You should always be planning ahead. Think about watching an online tutorial during break. They offer different courses from learning the guitar to foreign languages—and many of these courses are free! You could also make use of a daily deal—they always offer something interesting…rock climbing was recently featured for cheap. You should never be afraid to try something new. We are all united in that we’re all beginners to something. The difference is that some of us will take the time to move beyond the beginner stage—maybe from a desire to achieve, or maybe a genuine curiosity for what’s out there. Either reason is fine, learning the lesson is the main thing.

6. Send a letter. This day and age we send email, we text, we Skype tweet, Facetime and Plurk. These are great (convenient) ways to connect, but there is something charming in the ancient art of snail mail. It’s clear the USPS is on a definite decline and changes are forthcoming, but for now, we still have mailboxes that receive and send mail, both important and trivial. When was the last time you received a “thinking of you” card in the mail? Did it make your day? I recently received a Postagram from a friend many states away. We hadn’t talked in many months, so when I saw her note in the mail I was smiling from ear to ear. I’ve made a much stronger effort to stay connected with her since then. That is the power of the mail. This week, think of someone you haven’t spent much time with recently. Maybe they’ve moved, or maybe they’re in a different chapter of life right now, and connecting is difficult. Send a thinking of you card. You can use Postagram from your phone, and they’ll take care of the leg work. It will make someone’s day. I guarantee it.
7. Go dancing. This one is my favorite, and it may be innate. Science suggests we are born to dance.  Babies as young as 5 months have the ability to “dance” with the beat. Dancing is fun. Dancers have increased serotonin levels and are generally perceived as better communicators. Science suggests it’s healthy, and at one time was vital to our success as a species. While that information is good to know for trivia night, it might also be helpful to know dancing helps improve your memory.  A 2003 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine found that ballroom dancing at least twice a week made people less likely to develop dementia. We’re a little ways off from  the dementia stage, but it never hurts to plan ahead! Whatever the science, few things are as much fun as dancing with friends!

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One Response to “7 Things to Accomplish over Spring Break”

  1. Alex Hagan April 3, 2013 at 9:54 pm #

    This is a great idea. And it applies to people who aren’t on spring break too – expanding our horizons and interests helps us in all areas of our lives. Thanks for sharing.

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