We Were On A Break: Settling Back Into College Life

It’s that time of year again, with the post-Christmas blues, low funds and of course heading back to college. January isn’t the most fun month, especially for college students, including yours truly. The Christmas break, while more than welcomed in light of exams, has wrecked all of our heads. Suddenly we have to get back into a ‘routine’, settle in for long days of lectures and trying to cook for ourselves. So to combat the blues here’s five stages of students on break:

1) Faux Festive:
You’ve just finished your exams, completed your Christmas shop, and you’re packing your bags for presumably the next three to six weeks back home. In the lead up to the festive season you’ve convinced yourself that after having spent so long away from home, a nice family Christmas will be a great end to the year. Whether you’re getting the bus or train home, you blast the Christmas tunes, message all your mates back home about a catch up and call mammy telling her you’re on your way home. This festive sentiment lasts all the way until you reach your front door and you’re reminded of all the reasons why you stay up in college over the course of the semester, parents plaguing you about your five year plan, siblings being painful whether it’s picking a film to watch on the telly or trying to decide who’s banker in monopoly and of course the awkward family run-ins over Christmas, the aunts and uncles you see on a yearly basis or the cousins you haven’t seen since you were doing the Leaving. Now that stage one, A.K.A. faux festive, is complete you can proceed to stage two.

You’ll feel more even festive than that one Mariah Carey song you know.

2) Constant Food Coma:
Christmas is a time of celebration, a time for family and friends, but it’s mainly a time for food. In the space of two weeks there seems to be a miraculous never ending supply of food and drink in the house. Tins of Roses, Celebrations and Quality Street become a new food group, unbeholden to the laws of nutrition. Breakfast is replaced by a constant stream of chocolate Santas, coins and copious amounts of Taytos and Pringles. By the time you reach dinner the only sign of any fruit or vegetables appear in the form of the ever-adored potatoes  the dreaded Brussels sprout, then of course turkey and ham surrounded by mash, croquets, roast potatoes, stuffing and of course gravy. In the days that follow leftovers are used for snacks, turkey and stuffing sandwich anyone? And that’s before you get to desert, whether its pudding, trifle, pavlova, cake or good ol’ jelly and ice-cream. Of course no break would be complete without gathering around to watch a film or Christmas special with the fam, accompanied by mugs of tea and a tin of biscuits.

Much like this cat, we have all faced the terror of the post Christmas gut.

3. The Date and time complex:
Somewhere along the path of Christmas crackers, movies, and food you’ll find yourself struggling to remember what day of the week it is and what time it is. Morning is anywhere between 7am and 3pm, afternoons can range from 3pm to 7pm, and nights can start at 8pm and finish at 6am. You’ve reached that Twilight Zone stage of Christmas where time doesn’t exist, days turn into weeks and you’re somewhere between Stephen’s Day and New Years Eve caught in limbo. Usually dressed in pajamas and slippers and oversized hoodies, no makeup, and refusing to change unless its into a fresh pair of pjs. Gone are the stylish festive outfits, here are the comfy dressing gowns and fuzzy socks.

Unless the days and weeks of Christmas break stretch before you like the plains of Dalí’s The Persistence of Memory, did you even have a break?

4) The Constant Stream Of Alcohol:
Yes, it’s a given, when Christmas comes around it’s usually surrounded by copious amounts of booze. Whether it’s a few sneaky cans watching a film with the fam, or a glass of wine or five at dinner, there’s always an excuse to toast to something over the holidays. A shot at New Years to say “fuck you” to last year and hope for some miracle in the new year, the nightcap you have sitting around after dinner with cousins and extended family. Not forgetting twelve pubs of course, everyone’s favourite excuse for getting locked in a Christmas jumper. Whether it’s celebrating with a glass of prosecco or rosé, we all find ourselves indulging in a tipple or two.

Pam, if anything at all like your average college student, is probably drinking this alcohol right before a heated political debate with her family.

5. The Daze:
With the festivities winding to a close you find yourself in the lingering period between New Year’s and returning to college. The days, or weeks for some, in between are a haze of lounging around the house, ignoring college reminders, meeting up with friends before ye all go your separate ways, it’s a time where the fear of exam results mixes with the anticipation of going back and meeting up with the gang in college and yet again going on the tear. You frantically try to find everything you brought home, and raid the cupboards for any food to save a few quid. Before you know it you’re heading back to your home as opposed to your real home which you now refer to as home home, and the cycle of procrastination and stress begins yet again.

You might never actually be awake for the entire period between Christmas and the new semester.

Aileen O’Leary

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