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4 Fun and Educational Activities During the Winter Break

By Allison Quinn, student SUNY Empire State College

November 27, 2017

‌The winter break from college courses is approaching.  During these few weeks, students have a chance to catch up on sleep, spend time with family and friends, and recharge before beginning courses again in January. Throughout the break, students may engage in a variety of activities for pleasure, but they can also gain great learning experiences.

The winter break activities that students see as enjoyable, can also have a connection to their courses, the academic programs they’re in, and to their future careers. By having meaningful, positive experiences, winter break activities can allow you to expand on topics and material in your courses, and help provide you with more knowledge and skill in your areas of interest. And the interactions, insights, and knowledge gained from engaging in activities during the break, can help you develop personally, professionally and educationally.

Here are 4 winter break activities for students who want to combine recreation with education:  

Volunteer for a cause or organization that shares your goals and interests

Winter is the time of year when nonprofit organizations need extra volunteers. New York has a wide array of volunteer opportunities for students who want to give back to their communities and neighbors. Volunteers can work at homeless shelters or food pantries, collect coats for a clothing drive, deliver meals, or use their specific skills and training to help people in need, such as first aid certification, community organizing, technology skills, and maintenance or repair skills.

Volunteering during break is not only helpful to an organization or cause, but these experiences also benefit students educationally and professionally. Volunteering provides hands-on involvement where students can apply what they learn in courses to real-life scenarios; these helping experiences provide great insights for your courses and assignments. Students can also network with professionals in their area of interest, and learn about potential careers. Volunteering looks impressive on résumés and it might be a topic you can earn credit for, by writing a PLA.  The benefits of volunteering, both for others and for yourself, are gratifying, and worth the effort.

Read or watch content and media that relates to your area of study

With more leisure time and unpredictable weather, it’s typical to stay inside and watch movies and TV, go to a play, or read a new book.  These activities might relate to your degree program, and students can reflect on how a subject or issue is portrayed, and make connections to their courses by what they have learned.  For example, a fictional TV show about hospitals may relate to what you discuss in the nursing program, or a magazine article may be culturally insensitive based on what you’ve learned in a Cultural Studies course.  Students can write reviews for books, shows, movies, or plays for their classmates and other students to read, and students can use fictional and nonfictional examples to support their writing and arguments. Connecting literature, cinema, and theater to a topic can enrich a discussion or assignment.

Travel to a new area

Winter break is the perfect time of year to travel! Whether you’re heading to another country, a different state, or taking a trip to an unfamiliar part of New York, there are so many benefits to traveling. In your travels, you can discover a different culture, learn about diverse customs, or gain perspectives from those living in another region within the state. You can utilize your traveling encounters in course discussions and share those thoughts with classmates and faculty, like talking about how a foreign county’s technology differs from technology in the U.S., or common themes in art from another state. There are many domestic and global volunteer opportunities that you can take on to help those in need, expand your knowledge of different crises and issues, and to add to your résumé. Traveling and exploring can be an experience that is both memorable and insightful.

Learn a new skill

During a busy semester, it can be hard to find the time to learn a new skill or hobby. Winter break provides students with a few weeks of down time to pursue a new interest or goal. Students may try a new style of photography that can add to their art education, or learn the basics of a foreign language, as some professions seek workers who are bilingual. Some students may want to take a CPR class and add the certification to their professional qualifications, or get trained to operate a crisis hotline, which is beneficial when studying Human Services. And learning how to use a new computer program for an upcoming course is a great time-saver and builds more knowledge. Skills developed and increased during the break between semesters can be both practical and enjoyable.

Downtime between semesters is a great way to disconnect from studying, and a perfect opportunity to get out and enjoy some much-needed time off.  Whether you’re trying a new activity or building on current interests, use the time to engage in something that will give you a great experience.  And while you’re reading that new book, volunteering somewhere, or traveling near and far, think about how your winter break activities and experiences can benefit you not only on a personal level, but also for your educational and professional goals.




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