I vividly remember coming home for Christmas after my first term at university. I was looking forward to it: three months of juggling club nights and deadlines had definitely taken their toll. Daydreams of an idyllic Christmas dominated my final week. I couldn’t wait to choose a tree, whip up some gingerbread and reacquaint myself with Bing Crosby.
I returned to my village, donned a Santa hat and… became restless. Quickly. The boredom I felt took me by surprise. I blamed the contrast between the sleepy countryside and the intensity of university, coupled with the quelling of my festive spirit that first morning when I awoke to unwelcome sunny skies and a wasp sting. Not exactly the white Christmas Bing and I had pictured.
I found myself feeling purposeless, and a bit trapped
Without the urgency of 9am lectures, I found I had no motivation to get up. I had stacks of university work to do, of course, but I had fully intended to give myself a week to recharge before going back to my customer service job. And, despite weeks of premature uni celebrations, Christmas was still over two weeks away. The last thing I wanted was to exhaust the nostalgia offered by festive cinema, or cause my palate to revolt against the purple Quality Street.
After the independence of living in halls, I felt slightly suffocated by bickering family members, resulting in a desire to escape the house and hunt down some pals. But this was made tricky by my irrational fear of driving, and the lack of a destination. My school friends had not yet finished uni, and it was far too early to take up invitations to visit new friends. And there was the inconvenience that I was in my overdraft, so could hardly fund cross-country travel.
Coming home can naturally result in under-stimulation, especially if you live somewhere remote
In short, I found myself feeling purposeless, and a bit trapped. I found in university a playground to pursue my passions, where every whim could be satisfied. Someone who has never seen colour does not know what they are missing; I loved where I grew up, until I moved away. Readjusting to rural isolation proved to be more difficult than I had thought. It is worth noting, however, that boredom is often a symptom of privilege. I am very lucky that this is the only issue I face coming home.
Countless events, societies and opportunities are on your doorstep at university. Coming home can naturally result in under-stimulation, especially if you live somewhere remote. But flexibility is important. If, like me, you feel restless at home, think of ways in which you can use this newfound inactivity to your advantage. Read ahead for next term, to free up evenings you might want to use, well, not reading once you’re back at uni. Reflect on yourself and your future – maybe use the time to research different industries, or hunt for work experience. I choose to work in the holidays, largely to fund a vanilla latte addiction, but partly for a sense of structure. Having time accounted for makes you properly appreciate the time in which you are free to do nothing; you can indulge in the emptiness you might otherwise find uninspiring. If you can’t find (or don’t need) a job, volunteering is another great option.
Time away from university teaches me gratitude and gives me perspective
Back home for Christmas a year later, I can’t pretend I’m not mourning Neon Fridays, late night trips to Tesco and the sweet sweet taste of purple. But time away from university teaches me gratitude and gives me perspective. I am excited for term two, but now feel as though I can enjoy the break between one hectic term and another. Coming home feels less like a chasm, and more like a bridge.