Congratulations! You made it through your first semester of law school during a global pandemic. Honestly, if it were up to me, I’d say you’ve already earned the “Esquire” title. The perseverance, resilience, and diligence that you applied to make it through a semester that was fraught with uncertainty and chaos, on top of a complex and demanding law school curriculum is commendable. Therefore, you deserve all the praise and recognition that I hope is coming your way, and, most importantly, you deserve this winter break. You deserve a few weeks of rest. A few weeks to pat yourself on the back and simply say “I did that.” Not to mention a few weeks of all the winter dishes and treats that your heart desires.
Wondering how you can use this joyous season to prepare yourself for next semester? Here are 10 tips to get your ideas flowing.
1. Stop Obsessing Over Finals
I get it. Your final exams were no easy feat. I imagine this was especially true this semester, where most schools were still adjusting to a new virtual educational format which likely increased the difficulty of your courses and complicated your exam preparation. Now that finals are over, I understand the urge to obsess over: how you performed, what your score is, and how it will impact your chances for a job offer. However, obsessing over this will make no difference. This winter break, put your finals to the back of your head. Nothing can be changed at this point so use your time to be thankful for making it through this journey or creating something tasty like hot chocolate.
Rest until you become tired of resting! I imagine that virtual lessons and a limited commute may have given you some additional minutes of shut-eye this semester. However, don’t disregard how burdensome the pandemic, elections, and coursework were to your mental state and overall emotional wellbeing. So, use this break to sleep in as late as you desire, to nap after taking seconds or thirds after each meal and to simply meditate on the blessing of getting to this point or meditate on nothing at all.
3. Reconnect with Friends and Family
As a first-year law student, you’ve truly had to learn the concept of time management. Taking on a demanding course load and trying to maintain personal relationships is tough. Understandably, you may not have had as much time to speak with friends outside of law school and even check in with family members while trying to find the hours in the day needed to brief your cases or outline for an exam.
Winter break is the perfect time to rebuild those bonds by reconnecting with friends and family. As the COVID-19 numbers continue to rise, I recommend doing this virtually or in a social-distanced setting outside. However, prioritize this task and check in with your loved ones.
4. Read Anything but a Casebook
This probably goes without saying but give your casebooks a break this winter season. Unless you are completing a winter class session, there is no reason for you to crack those books open before January. Use this time to jump into a great fiction or non-fiction novel and if that even seems like too much, read a couple of blogs or even your Instagram timeline. It definitely counts as reading, and we won’t judge!
5. Do a Socially Distanced Trip
Winter is the perfect time to do a socially distanced trip with your partner or a small group. I would recommend doing something domestic so that you can avoid getting on a plane and something remote where there is little opportunity to bump into others. A camping trip or even a remote cabin trip in the mountains are two great options to consider.
6. Find a Fun Hobby
I know that quarantine may have already led you to pick up some fun hobbies. However, winter break is a great time to build on this or get started if you haven’t already. Consider picking up baking or cooking and try your hand at some delicious winter treats. Alternatively, you could build your green thumb and do some gardening or even take on some home improvement projects. Binge-watching copious amounts of television also counts as a hobby, so don’t rule out this option!
7. Attend a Virtual Concert
In-person concerts are now far too risky, but have you gone to a virtual show? Check out some options here. Tickets are a lot cheaper, and there are even some free options for some of your favorite musicians.
8. Check your Health
Don’t forget that we are still in a pandemic. Maintaining your health and strength is of the utmost importance to make it to the Spring semester. I recommend checking in on your health during the downtime you have this winter. Use this time to complete a physical to check your overall health and complete a COVID test, especially if you plan to see family members for the holidays. Also, use this time to incorporate a wellness regimen into your schedule.
9. Assess your Fall Semester Experience
Use your winter break to assess your Fall semester and what you can do to improve your experience in the Spring. Maybe you found that it was too distracting to complete your virtual classes at home, so you may need to consider a new safe setting for your virtual Spring classes. Maybe you found that you didn’t take much advantage of your professor’s office hours and found yourself frustrated by the course material during exam prep, so formulating a plan to connect with your professors next semester may be helpful. Finally, you may have found your Fall semester very difficult because you were not able to make friends. Use your winter break to maybe even connect with some of your classmates or plan ahead for Spring social networking events to build new connections.
10. Begin Your Summer Job Search
Winter break is also the perfect time to begin your summer job search. I added this last despite its importance because I want you to focus on yourself, your happiness, and your mental state before jumping into a new stressful task. I recommend beginning your job search by speaking with your career advisor who can help you to put in place a practical plan for the changing work environment during COVID. Turning to your advisor for help will take some of the edge off and make this a less stressful experience. You can also always reach out for outside help if you need a professional.
Happy Holidays and all the best for the Spring semester!
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