Wednesday, September 8, 2010

The Happier Holidays?

This semester, I started working in the Communications Center on campus, which is a fancy name for calling prospective students and telling them to come to OU. This past week, I was talking to a high school senior from South Dakota who was less than enthusiastic about my sales pitch (I information about applying!). Since I'm from far away, I was trying to give him some insight on how being in a new place can be exciting.

"I don't know," he said. "Aren't you kind of stuck there for holidays and stuff?"

All of a sudden, I had a montage-worthy flashback to my own decision process a few years ago, with this very question at the forefront. I think it's fair to say that most people considering school far away have this question cross their mind (and look just like Macauley Culkin when they think about it). If you're more than a day's drive away, or if you have no car, there's not a super-cheap way to get home.

Here's the deal: you won't be back for the Labor Day barbecue, and unless your spring break is really conveniently times, you probably won't be hunting for Easter Eggs with your little sister. But if you want, it is feasible to get home for Thanksgiving, and of course Christmas. That long winter break is a great season for playing pranks on your neighbors from your own home.

There are ways to get cheap flights for Thanksgiving, particularly if you fly out on a Tuesday. I'll go into more detail about this when I do a post on travel. Also, if your issue is transportation more than distance, then by that point in the year you'll probably know someone who will be going near your house on their drive back. Offer to split gas or serenade them (loudly) the whole way. Trust me, people love road trip buddies.

The problem with the fall semester, of course, is that the only real break comes near the end. Spring semester has a lovely vacation smack in the middle, but the first part of the year (especially when it's your first year) can drag on. If you're lucky enough to get a fall break, take advantage of it. Even for the sake of your sanity away from schoolwork.

As for flying home for spring break and Christmas, both are completely doable. So much so that I will just tell you not to worry about them--if you want to be home, you'll be home. There are some travel tricks that I'll let you all know about soon, but neither of these has ever been a problem for me.

Of course, there are alternatives you might want to consider. Lots of people use the Christmas intersession to study abroad, or do their own Spring Break trip (be safe, kiddies). My suggestion to the newer students is this: go home for winter break at least. Even if you're not a huge fan of your family or the people back home, and they make you feel like this crazy dude. (2 points to anyone who knows who it is). It's interesting, at the very least, to see how you and the people you know have changed with a full season of being different people apart from each other. And besides, reconnecting with people, hearing their stories and sharing yours, and reliving the glory days of diapers and learner's permits is more fun than you might imagine. There's something to be said for years of memories, even mediocre ones.

What's the fun of your new lame jokes if you can't tell them to a fresh audience?

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