Photo by Eric Aldieri

The middle of the semester is drawing near, and some schools (like Villanova) will have a week off from classes in mid-October. Even if that’s not the case for your particular academic calendar, chances are you’ll at least commemorate the genocidal prince of poor geography, Christopher Columbus, with a day off from classes in his honor. So whether you’re spending your week or long weekend home or on campus, there are a few things you should do to make the most of it – some things all college students should do with mid-semester upon us.

Relax. Unless you’ve been skipping classes and turning papers in late (in which case you have some other problems to resolve), then you have worked yourself to exhaustion and the brink of collapse. It might be difficult to shake the intense work ethic for a week or so, but it must be done in order to maintain sanity. Catch up on some TV, enjoy the fall foliage if you are lucky enough to live in a part of the country that is exploding with color, and maybe take one last slightly-out-of-season trip to the beach.

Visit people. If you go to school more than a few hours away from home, this might be the first time you’ve seen your family in a couple months. Things change once you have been away for a while, and all of a sudden, you’re scrambling to spend time with your parents and siblings instead of the other way around. Revisit the events of your childhood (pumpkin carving? apple picking?) to quiet down your nostalgia a bit. And call up your aunts, uncles, and cousins too. Since many schools have their breaks during different weeks, it’s also a great opportunity to visit your friends at different schools. It’s not a bad idea to take the weekend trip to your best friends’ universities to see how their lives are shaping up.

Conscious self-reflection. Now is the time to ask yourself the hard questions. Do you like the way your grades are turning out so far or is there room for improvement? Are you in just as good physical shape as you were before the semester started or did you lose your summer beach body? How are you doing mentally? Is your social life all that you dreamed it would be? Have you kept in touch with the important people in your life or can you already feel a degree of separation? Are you proud of the overall change that has inevitably occurred within you after a half of a semester? We rarely stop to think about these questions though they may sometimes be passing thoughts. You have the time and the energy – now all you need to do is decide to use them for a little self-reflection. If you decide some things aren’t turning out the way you want them to, then you can start working on a change once the semester resumes. We all need a little wakeup call once in a while.

So pour yourself a glass of apple cider, throw on your autumn sweater, and take a scenic drive to your local farmer’s market to pick up an award winning pumpkin – and in doing so, be sure to relax, reconnect with family and high school friends, explore your home town, and set aside some time for conscious self-reflection on how the semester is turning out. There is very often that feeling of slight discontent, and it can be really hard to shake. Let your fall break week or weekend be the moment you are able to pinpoint what exactly is causing that discontent so that you can tweak your habits, schedule, environment, or thought process for the better. You have an entire half of a semester left to go. Here’s to making the most of it.

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the author

Eric Aldieri is a junior at Villanova University double majoring in Philosophy and Humanities. You can contact him at or @ealdi94 .

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