Whether fall break means a week of sleeping until noon or one afternoon of not working and only writing two pages on an imminently due paper, it’s that time of year for [graduate] students.
Fall break starts with a great word: fall. I tend to repeat myself to the point of excess when I start to talk about how much I love autumn, especially October, so bullet points are in order…
- Leaves – so many colors! the shushing sound of scuffing your shoes through them! drifting lazily down into piles! floating along creeks!
- Cool air – blue-tinted wood in the morning! seeing your breath in the air! wearing jeans and sweaters! sitting outside in the sun at noon!
- Sky – clouds and contrast and blue and gold and breezes!
- Food – pies and cranberry sauce and pumpkins and apple-picking season and pecans and walnuts and hot apple cider and mulled wine!
I could go on, but enough already.
In academia, it’s also a time of decision making. What will my thesis be about? What courses will I take in the spring? Can I survive another semester working this many hours? Do I need to take a language course? Should I apply to PhD programs? Am I going to apply to jobs? What about AmeriCorps, Peace Corps, or Teach for America?
(and underneath it all, WHAT IS THE MEANING OF LIFE?)
And of course, all of this existential angst comes right in the middle of midterm papers and exams. Talk about a stacked deck.
But then fall break arrives. I stop. I take a walk outside. I bake something. I talk to friends. I read a book for fun. I stand in the sun with my eyes closed. And time slows down.
I know that Monday morning I’ll be stressed to the max again, trying to make all of those grand decisions and parse out my time to that last nanosecond. I know that I have papers to write and presentations to prepare and hours to clock. But every now and then it helps to pause–breathe–and get a bit of perspective.
So thanks, fall break. You’re an okay kind of holiday.