Well, I have officially finished my last Winter Session here at UD. It’s probably the last time I’ll have so much time off at once. I’ll be the first to admit that when I first decided to come to UD and saw that we had the whole month of January off, I was a bit dubious. While I’m sad it’s over, I think that I have used my Winter Sessions to the best of my abilities.

Winter Session 2014, Freshman Year. One of the main reasons I came to UD was because of all the great study abroad options available to students. I did not hesitate to start taking advantage of these. Within the first weeks of school I began applying to a Winter Session study abroad in Caen, France. I was accepted to the program and thus began one of my favorite adventures during my time at UD. I met one of my best friends, got to explore a new part of the world, and ate about ½ of the pastries that France had for sale at the time. It was a great time and I got to become a lot more comfortable with my French speaking ability thanks to the homestay aspect of the study abroad. I came back jetlagged but more aware of the world.

Winter Session 2015, Sophomore Year. I do another study abroad. Okay I may be playing fast and loose with the word “abroad.” I spent a month in Hawaii studying fish for my science requirement. If you can do this trip, do this trip. Hawaii is a lovely lovely place. I got to do all of my grocery shopping at local farmers’ markets where most of the fruits and veggies were grown locally. I got to go on hikes through dense jungles in my free time. Not to mention my English speaking ability is top notch now. I am practically fluent. In all seriousness though, doing a domestic study abroad still opened me up to a part of the United States that I had never seen or experienced. It made me appreciate how vast and diverse and beautiful our country is.

Winter Session 2016, Junior Year. My first time in Delaware during the month of January in 2 years. I have to say: I missed the snow. This is also the year I invented “Snow-ga” AKA yoga in the snow, featuring such moves as “Downward Husky,” “Snow Covered Mountain,” and “Pine Tree.” But I did more than frolic in the snow. I was interning at the Superior Court of Wilmington and working at ELI (the English Language Institute). There is definitely something to be said for working during Winter Session. Whether it’s an internship or a job where you can make money (or a paid internship! Best of both worlds!), this is a great time to add to your resume. A lot of people are back in school by this point so a) you’ll be bored doing nothing anyway, and b) not as many people to compete with for internships. Just reach out to someone you might possibly want to work with and see if they’d be willing to let you shadow or work for the month of January. This was also the Winter Session that I learned that Res Life plans super cool events for students who stay on campus. I took my ELI students to a “learn to paint” night as well as other talks and events. If you’re on campus taking a class, there is definitely plenty to do.

Winter Session 2017, Senior Year. Yet another internship. This time I worked with the Delaware Academy of Medicine to help them set up a new website for chronic disease. I also used the time that I wasn’t doing this to apply for jobs and finish applying to law schools. The reality of graduation is ever looming closer and the panic is becoming real. I’m glad I used time over Winter Session to really start making concrete plans for after graduation, not just “well I want to do…” Overall not as exciting as France or Hawaii but still productive.

So after 4 Winter Sessions I can conclusively say that I was wrong to be dubious. If you apply yourself, Winter Session can be an incredibly useful time. Whether you travel, work, or plan for your future, it’s a great time to really follow your dreams for at least a couple of weeks.

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