Winter break, too much of a good thing

On January 27, 2014

Winter Break had exciting prospects as I headed the 17 hours back home to spend time with my family and friends.

I returned home over an entire week before my sisters, who work for school districts, but figured the time alone would help me sleep off the finals week hangover.

As soon as I recovered from the late nights of studying and the long drive across Nebraska, and after my mom put me on a healthy food Ramen-Noodle-Detox, I was comfortably content for Christmas.

Christmas came and went and suddenly my family all returned to work. To make matters worse, my friends in town started student teaching or moved back in for the start of their spring semester.

After New Years I got to spend two more weeks of break in mostly solidarity. All this alone time got me thinking, why are we on winter break so long?
There seems to be a convergence of three reasons why universities’ winter breaks are so long.

Originally colleges based their academic calendars primarily on the agricultural cycle. Breaks from classes typically took place in the labor intensive seasons of planting and harvesting, leaving longer segments of school during the growing seasons or when plants are yet in the ground.

Observing religious festivals also played a large role in vacation days from school with the early universities. The liturgical calendar gave some students weeks or sometimes even a month for the seasons of Lent, Advent, Holy Week and Christmas.

High heating and cooling costs have also contributed to the break schedules of universities.

By starting terms later in the summer and taking off more time over the coldest months in winter, institutions were able to save money during times when energy prices skyrocketed.

After reading an article explaining how fortunate college students are for having long winter breaks I can only assume the author is not trying to learn a foreign language.

Besides my obvious displeasure with loneliness I can’t help but think that such an extended break was bad for the continuity of my learning.
Learning a foreign languages is hard, even harder when you take over a month off daily education. No amount of local Spanish radio could keep me up to speed in class and I am already feeling the impacts after just a week of class.

I guess there can be too much of a good thing.

At least in my case, the amount of knowledge one can lose over such a long break from learning can outweigh the excitement of time off of school.

A long break es mucho no bueno, which I think means no good? Definitely need a tutor.

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