For a lot of students, the winter break is a wonderful time, where they can stop studying, go home to spend the rest of their year with their family and hometown friends, and just generally get a nice change of pace.
Not for me.
I mean, obviously there are some benefits to the winter break; not having to worry about studying anymore; raking in the Christmas loot (if that's your thing); less obligation to put on pants, you know, the basics. But there are also certain circumstances that made this break make me feel like I was going to break. This is the story of how I spent my winter vacation.
The first, and perhaps biggest problem, is that I live in Cambridge. While this is just sad in general, in the context of school breaks, it's more of a let-down than usual. I live with my family the other 49 weeks of the year anyways, there's no refreshing change of scenery, I still have to see the same things every day. And let me tell you, the things there are to see? Not that swell.
Waterloo is a university city (univer-city?), and it has many services around that exist to appeal to the university-age students that populate it. Cambridge has… some nice architecture. Waterloo is a big city with a considerable population and a liveliness to match it. Cambridge is commonly called Lamebridge by its residents — and not affectionately or ironically. In general, I think Waterloo's pretty fun. Cambridge is where fun goes to die.
So it's probably fair to say that there wasn't a lot for me to go check out while I was stuck in Cambridge. On top of that, all of my university friends had gone back home, and none of my hometown friends were available for the first week and a half of my break, leaving me with absolutely nothing to do. I mean, I guess I could have tried hanging out with my family, but geez, I'm not that desperate.
I'm fairly extroverted, but I get the appeal of alone time. After a hectic week I like to take a day or two of solitude to catch up on stuff or dive into the things that interest me. It's not like I'm totally dependent on other people to entertain me, I DO have hobbies… it's just that my hobbies aren't enough to sustain my attention for weeks on end.
So what did that leave me with? A part-time job to grant me some semblance of purpose, and a bunch of games I foolishly bought during exam time to drag me away from reality. With nothing else to draw my attention, I became a holiday hermit.
I spent days on end with my mind wrapped up in Dragon Age: Inquisition, subbing out my excitement-barren life with one of adventure, magic, and copious amounts of demon-slaying. I am pretty sure Bioware is the bright spot of my holiday season, because they made such a massive game that I managed to play it for one very intensive week without ever feeling bored. When it was over, I felt a little part of myself die. Without my inspector, what possible source of joy did I have left? Then I remembered I had Netflix.
I binge-watched harder than I have ever binged before. I watched more shows than I can even keep track of, losing myself in a blur of different genres and TV tropes. At one point I binge-watched an anime about a guy who did nothing but sit in his room all day. It was terrifying. And it still didn't motivate me to do anything.
When I didn't have shifts, days could go by without me seeing the sun. Time slowed to a crawl. I wondered if this was what life was like after university. I wondered if I was going to be able to make it to January, or if I would somehow literally die of boredom. I questioned if this was all some sort of divine test, to challenge my resolve in the face of small-town nothingness. I'm still not sure if I've won.
But eventually, time sped up near the end of my break. My Cambridge friends were finally free, and I got so wrapped up in getting ready for the next term that before I knew it, I was waking up at 6:00 a.m. to get ready for an 8:30 class (giving me a different reason to hate Cambridge) here at Waterloo.
I guess, all things considered, it's good to be back.