In Hindsight: Thankful for a Breakby Jaemie Paraon on Nov, 23 2011
It’s that time of year again, that time when everyone is running around frantically as they try to finish some assignments last-minute, pack for those long-awaited Thanksgiving trips, and rush to the overcrowded airports in San Francisco and Oakland. Holiday season is undoubtedly upon us, and with its arrival, it has managed to raise stress levels to an all-time high.
It is no mystery to Berkeley students that as soon as November hits, the workload quickly picks up, and by the month’s halfway point, we are in over our heads with work. It seemed as if every single one of my invitations to hang out was met with an “I’m sorry. I can’t. I’m so behind, and I have to catch up on my homework.” It also wasn’t a rare occurrence to see and hear my floor mates congregate in the bathroom and express their desires to go home (one of my friends actually had a countdown app running on his iPhone, signaling how many days, hours, minutes, and seconds were remaining until his plane left for Boston).
While it seemed like I was getting the hang of college life – I had managed to stay on top of all my assignments for the past two months or so – last week seemed to be my, as well as everyone else’s, breaking point. Powered by half a dozen cups of coffee, I pulled my first ever all-nighter, finishing a wretched 5-page paper at 6:28 in the morning. I skipped more lectures in one week than I ever have in my entire academic career, and when I finally did decide to show up to a class – I still haven’t missed a discussion section – I was pleasantly surprised by a quiz. Needless to say, I could have done much better.
With midterms and papers consuming me, I felt like I didn’t have much left for anything else. As much as I wanted to catch up on my TV shows, I couldn’t. As much as I wanted to hang out with people, I couldn’t. As much as I wanted to write a blog post for this column, I couldn’t.
It was definitely tempting to just lock myself in my room or in a dark corner at Main Stacks and get to work, but amidst everything else that was happening on campus, I knew I couldn’t isolate myself. How on Earth was I supposed to ignore the protests taking place right before my very eyes? How could I possibly turn a blind eye to the Occupy movement sweeping my campus and country? Needless to say, making an effort to occasionally drop by General Assemblies and listening to various speakers on Sproul in an attempt to understand what was really going on took a lot out of me. After last week, I can honestly say that I am burnt out.
There was no doubt in my mind that I, along with many others that I interacted with on campus, clearly needed a break from Cal and all the chaos that comes with attending this university. Thanksgiving could not have come at a better time. I’m thankful that I get this little break, but honestly, it’s such a teaser. I come home for a few days, warmly welcomed by the mild weather of Los Angeles, and before I know it, it’ll already be time for me to head back to cold and rainy Berkeley.
Amidst this hectic week, as I walked down Warring with a friend of mine (we had decided to take a short break from our intense paper-writing session and stroll down the street), I came to the realization that this is the most crucial time of the semester. This is when everything really starts to hit us, when we really need a break from Cal life, no matter how short-lived this break may be. But we must use this break wisely. Yes, enjoy this time spent with family and friends, but upon your return to Berkeley, be ready to work. Utilize this time off to rejuvenate yourself so that when you come back, you are ready to study your butt off for the remaining three weeks of the semester.
Less than 24 hours from now, I will be home, relaxing in my bed or lounging around on my couch, my eyes transfixed on the flat screen TV I’ve sorely missed. Less than 48 hours from now, I will be devouring turkey, indulging in mashed potatoes, and stuffing my face with stuffing. But in less than six days, I know I’ll have to say good-bye to a private bathroom and home-cooked meals and return to normalcy, and for these last few weeks of Fall 2011, I know it’s going to be full steam ahead.
I hope all of you have a lovely Thanksgiving break, wherever you may be and whomever you may spend it with. Savor your delicious dinner and your time off, knowing fully well that as soon as you take that last bite of pumpkin pie, it’s time to write that paper due the Monday back.