As our beloved winter break finally comes to an end and another semester begins, don’t resign yourself to a humdrum, stationary existence. Any school (or work) year has a smattering of breaks here and there. This is a guide to help you ensure that you make the most of every opportunity that comes your way!
Our view of the beach!
- Making the most of short breaks
I’m always so disappointed to see people fail to use their short breaks to their advantage, thinking that 4 or 5 days is not enough time to travel with. You have to shake yourself out of that mentality. Travel needn’t always be international. One of my most cherished memories is a spontaneous road trip I took up the coast to New York with my then-boyfriend, now-husband and a few friends. And with the advent of Groupon, chances are you can even find a great cabin, ski lodge, or breach resort for super cheap, too.
But international trips are also possible, if you’re willing to finagle it a little. For example, even if you’re in the geographically distant US, a trip to Costa Rica can be pulled off fairly easily in 4 – 5 days and the cost is pretty manageable.
- Long Breaks
That being said, I will sometimes skip short trips in order to better save up and enjoy a long trip. In late 2015, I decided to skip a planned birthday trip to Central America to afford the much more time consuming Morocco-Spain trip (which required 2 weeks, since I wanted to do a road trip from Tangier to the Sahara desert). But if you go this route, make sure you commit to it! It can be so hard to pull the trigger. After you peruse all the flight search engines (I know there are some huge fans for Matrix ITA, but I’m personally a sky scanner gal) and find the lowest price just buy it. Don’t let Future You wimp out.
The Pearl on the Bund in Shanghai
- Studying Abroad
Studying abroad can be one of the most wonderful parts of your college experience. I was initially going to skip out on it (only to find out as a senior I had to do it to successfully complete my major, International Relations) and I’m so glad I didn’t. Not only did I have a fantastic time, it’s inspired my career and personal goals and made me a much more fearless traveler. I also happened to get engage while on my trip! (<3!)
Of course, as a grad student studying abroad can be a bit of a mixed bag. It’s not always great for you academically and if you’re a law student I couldn’t with good conscious recommend you spend a whole semester abroad. It might net you a few credits and be an interesting talking piece with an interviewer… but study abroad’s can be hugely cost prohibitive, especially when many of us already have a huge mountain of debt to contend with.
Instead, consider capitalizing on the 2 week programs that happen during the winter and sometimes in the summer. It’ll be cheaper, you get a great experience, and probably at least 1 or 2 credits. If your school doesn’t have a winter/summer program, talk to your registrar: chances are you can join another school’s program.
Now, this is my bread and butter. An internship abroad is the best of both worlds. Not only do you get to further your professional goals, you escape the exorbitant costs of study abroad programs, and your friends and family will be less likely to shake their heads in disdain that you’re hopping onto a plane again.
This year I’m happily going to the Philippines and have an interview with a Chinese firm on Monday! Since I so dearly want to be an international lawyer this is great experience for me. Hopefully I can report on the results (and whether or not it’s been a boon or a bust) later on in the year.