UNDERGRADUATE ADMISSIONS at WASHINGTON UNIVERSITY in ST. LOUIS

My Final Winter Break (Journal #1)

Introduction

With the end of the semester finally past us and the holidays in full swing, I’d like to take this time to congratulate my peers. Congratulations to everyone for completing yet another semester and making it to winter break. Whether you are a freshman or senior, maintaining a good academic standard in the world today is no easy feat. We have finally made it to winter break. For many, this is a time of rest and revitalization; a time to visit family and see the people you love to celebrate togetherness. As the fall semester of 2021 came to a close, my final winter break in university began. It’s a crazy thing to realize and think about.

Graduating this year and making it through this semester has always been the plan. However, it’s shocking to be here in the moment. Time has flown by quicker than a blink of an eye. Consequentially, this winter break is a monumental season for myself and seniors at universities across the world. With that in mind, I wanted to share my own experience with this staggering yet relieving moment. In that regard, I hope students find this article relatable and comforting to read. The holidays for me will be celebrated just the same as they have been, but I will record this final winter break with nostalgia, joy, and deep self-reflection. Thank you for reading this and the other articles I will be releasing regarding the senior experience of winter break. Happy holidays and stay safe.

 

Departure

I started the day off by waking up at 5 AM. I didn’t finish packing the night before because I got extreme migraines from heightened anxiety. So I decided to focus on getting rest and wake up early before the flight to finish packing my stuff. I’m only staying at home for a week this break, so it’s not a lot of stuff to take back either way.

Once I woke up at 5, I took the time to ease into waking myself up by doing some digital housekeeping on my phone until 5:30. Which included scrolling on TikTok, checking the weather in St. Louis and Chicago, checking for final grades, and writing the beginning of this article! Once 5:30 hit, I was in the bathroom ready to get ready.

After I packed up my toiletries for the trip, picked out an outfit and got dressed, I was back in my room by 6 AM. Even though had to leave by 10, I felt pressed for time. I began to panic and rush to get everything I needed to get together. It took me until around 8 AM to do my makeup (and I made a bit more than a mess) and I immediately went to finish packing up after I was done. By 8:30 AM I was completely done and ready to go to the airport. I had decided to travel with my roommate (who also happened to be flying home around the same time as me) via Lyft to drop off books and rental equipment from the semester on campus before riding to the airport!

 

Prepare for Take-Off

My roommate isn’t as obsessed with earliness as I am, so we ended up leaving at 10 and was able to make it to my departure gate by 11 AM! I don’t know if it’s a new rule or one I haven’t really noticed, but I realized that unattended bags left at the gate get taken for safety purposes. Since I’m traveling alone and with a lot of items, I decided to just spend time playing games at my gate until it was boarding time rather than going to buy things to eat. Which is fine because that just means I got to eat food when I arrived at home (Wash U kids love free food!).

The plane ride was short, so I decided to use my laptop to edit this article and put the final touches on it (Fun Fact: I’m on the plane writing this! -Allana, on the plane). Writing while on the plane was actually very comfortable since the seats on Southwest planes are well padded. And despite the winter season, it was warm enough not to be drowning in clothing layers. With the extra time I had left of the flight after writing, I closed my eyes and allowed myself to recollect the morning and just relax. Even though I dreaded going home because of the price of flight tickets, the rush and full schedule with finals, and dealing with my health, I sat on the plane so excited to get home and see Chicago again. That being said… Chicago, here we come!!

 

Landing

I was ecstatic to make it home safely. After landing at the airport, I reunited with friends and family. Since being home, it’s been a pleasure. I’ve eaten plenty of wonderful food–home cooked meals I can’t make myself–which I’ve shared above. My home has been festive since before my arrival. The festivities have eased my anxieties regarding academics and given me time to breathe.

My favorite part of the holiday has been spending time around the Christmas tree. The lights, ornaments, and decorations bring a feeling of childlike glee. The house is always warm and the smell of cinnamon and gingerbread is always in the air. I’m glad I made the time to come home despite feeling overwhelmed planning my trip during the school year. Being home can definitely be bittersweet, but it especially is this year.

A wave of pride and hope in myself has washed over me since arriving home. After returning to my home town, I’m able to be in the place “where it all started” for me. Returning to this place in my final year of college gives me a large sense of accomplishment with how far I’ve come. I’ll be honest, the final semester that approaches looms over this joy. However, the pressure becomes fuel because of how positively I can reflect on myself. Every day I’m here, the more I know I can take on Spring 2022.

 

Conclusion

Overall, my trip back home has been thoroughly enjoyable. I’ve reconnected with family, friends, and loved ones in my home town. Being home, I also have been able to self reflect on my academic position and accomplishments thus far. I am proud of myself for how far I have come. This year has been more difficult than any other, but I and many others have done amazingly. We continue to stride in confidence, and when we fail, we get back up again. Though things get so hard they may be unbearable, be proud. Be proud of yourself, your friends, and your loved ones for all the work you have done. With that, I wish all of you the happiest of holidays, the safest of travels, and the greenest of pastures.