Makin' It Count!

The end of the fall semester can be a stressful, hectic time for all undergraduates but there’s no need to fret because your next opportunity to relax and unwind is only a few weeks away.  Now that Thanksgiving break is over, some UGRADers might be looking ahead and thinking about what to do over the upcoming winter break. For those students who are continuing on to the spring semester, your universities’ designated winter break provides a wonderful opportunity to explore different parts of the city or state in which are residing, or to plan a trip to one of the diverse regions of the United States. Some of you may already be planning to visit friends or family members during this extended holiday period.

For those who are still uncertain about their winter break plans and are contemplating a more alternative course of action, there are plenty of opportunities provided through your university and non-profit organizations. If you’re interested in engaging in your local community through service, activism, academic inquiry, and leadership, you might want to participate in an alternative winter break opportunity.  Several universities and organizations offer alternative winter break programs that allow students to learn about social issues such as poverty reduction, education reform and environment sustainability while performing community service projects.

United Way, a non-profit organization, is offering an alternative winter break trip to Newark in January to help children of limited means. Habitat for Humanity is another non-profit organization providing alternative winter break opportunities for students interested in building homes in your local community. Usually there is a fee associated with participating in an alternative winter break opportunity, however some universities and organizations provide scholarships or travel grants for students.

Another suggestion to keep you busy during the winter break is to get involved in your university’s student organizations and clubs. Student-led outdoor clubs frequently plan ski trips during the winter break and international student organizations often plan trips to nearby cities or popular tourist destinations like New York City or Washington D.C.  These student-organized trips are usually a great inexpensive way to try something new and interact with students from your university.  When you pay for the trip, transportation, lodging, and activity expenses are usually included in the overall trip fee so you won’t have to worry about all the details of your vacation plan.

If you are feeling tired and overwhelmed by your busy fall semester schedule, just keep in mind winter break is just around the corner. These are just a few alternative ideas to get you started thinking about how to make this winter break amazingly productive and enjoyable. Whether you spend the extended break volunteering, traveling with friends, or visiting new places, make sure to make it a memorable one.

– Jessica Wilkinson, Global UGRAD intern

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