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What I Did On My Winter Holidays
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By Alex Marco

Happy New Year!  It’s 2013, and I was thinking about how I’ve changed since 2012.  Well, for starters, I’m slightly more tanned thanks to my one-week Miami getaway.  Of course, like most of us who benefitted from having a week or so off for the holidays, I’ve put on a few pounds from overindulging in sweets and delicious desserts.  So yes, physically speaking, perhaps I’m not quite the same now, at the dawn of the New Year, as I was a month ago-- but what about changes on an emotional or psychological level?

‘Winter Break’, as it is politically correctly referred to within the public school system here in New York City, is a highly-anticipated hallmark of any high school senior’s career.  Typically, by the end of January our course load has considerably lightened.  The third week of January marks the end of the second marking period AKA (usually) the last academic information/grades that colleges and universities receive when making their admissions decisions.

We’ve also been hearing back from Early Decision/Early Action schools, which luckily for me have been really uplifting… I’m accepted into all four schools I’ve heard back from!  For the most part, our applications have been submitted to Regular Decision/Rolling Admissions schools, so that’s a huge relief, though we hear back from schools in separate rounds.  While I have heard back from most schools, that doesn't mean that those are the schools that I want to go to the most; for example, Cornell and McGill don't advise us of the results until sometime in March.  The waiting game has officially begun.

In a way, it’s strangely comforting to know that in a matter of weeks, our future, or at least which university we attend in the near future, will be, for the most part, out of our hands.  I view this impending remainder of senior year as a time to sit back, keep up decent grades, and have a good time with friends.

My vacation was the perfect balance between restorative and fun, the golden proportion which I’ve since dubbed ‘productive resting.’  For me, I find I want a cross between a smaller percentage of time spent in bed with my eyes glued on whatever happens to be streaming on Netflix, or alternately fiddling with the video game controller and shoving chips into my mouth, and more time actually getting outside and interacting with the world around me. 

This is especially true after an extended period of high stress and a rigid schedule.  Watching Breaking Bad and getting to the next level of a video game seems like just the right way to spend a holiday, but moderation is key.  We’ve all gotten sucked into the realm of captivating TV shows and gone through a few seasons of a program in a ridiculously short period of time (guilty as charged; but hey, I don’t have time to watch during the school week!), but retrospectively, wasn’t that time wasted?
There’s always that one friend who comes back so well-tanned that she’s a whole different shade (yeah, the one wearing all white to show it off in dead winter) who gets to run off to the Bahamas with her family every Christmas while you’re bundled up in your most embarrassing pajamas in bed, eyes glued to the screen of your laptop.  I have always been somewhat envious of that jetsetter, particularly when I look back and realize that I had a whole week off and have nothing to show for it except a thorough knowledge of the latest hit TV show’s cast and plot.  Now, back to the ‘productive resting’; from time to time, comfy and cozy days spent in a semi-vegetative state are just the thing, but I always regret it when I spend a whole vacation that way.

I’ve gotten into the habit of jotting down a list of some things I want to accomplish over break a week or so before the start of break. Planning my time off to come builds my excitement, and it keeps me on track so I don’t get too distracted and engrossed in my laziness to get anything done.  This list consists of fun activities (ice skating, shopping with friends, seeing a movie) and those that might not be such fun (doctor’s appointments and essays to write, anyone?)  Still, the list makes sure that I don’t spend days on end in bed, so that when the aforementioned Bahama-mama comes back to school, I’ll also have something to share in our "What did you do over break?” discussion.

Speaking of my coined term, I find that while the ‘productive’ part is often a struggle for me over vacation, in a school/work setting, the ‘rest’ is even harder to get, which brings me to New Year’s resolutions!  This year, I’ve resolved to make fewer of those, for starters, because breaking them is always disappointing, and they’re almost always destined for failure because I set the bar too high.  Instead, for 2013, I’ve established more general goals or "intentions” for myself, one of which is resting more.  If all my hard work in the past means I can finally afford to take a breath for a few months before embarking on my college journey, then by all means, I should (and will!) take it.

That being said, I wish you all a happy and healthy 2013 full of just the right amounts of productivity and Rest and Relaxation!

Alex Marco is sharing her journey from high school to university with us in a series of articles, "Alex Goes to College.” She has agreed to accept your questions about this adventure. Please submit questions and topic suggestions about getting ready for and into the college of your choice to

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