Winter break is fast approaching and with it a seemingly eternal relaxation period during which one can do whatever he or she wishes. With the time off from school, freedom from academia will bring family vacations, parties, friends, seeing your boyfriend or girlfriend from back home, movies, a new year and maybe even cracking open that Stephen King novel you kept telling yourself you’d find time to read when you bought it four months ago.

The first week of break is what I like to call the “crash week,” – sleeping most of the time with a few breaks to see friends and enjoy the holidays. It’s relaxation in its ultimate form. The second week is usually when I’ll actually venture outside my house to do things – maybe go sledding, see a movie or participate in that super-awkward family vacation. By the third week, we’re into our “I’m tired of home/get me away from my parents” phase, where the college withdrawl sets in. Halfway through the fourth week we’re all happily back at UR – well, most of us.

For myself, winter break always seems to be the same. Not necessarily what I would call a “lifeless” period of three-and-a-half weeks, but monotonous. I’ve always dreamed about what it would be like to have a really crazy break. Say, road-tripping non-stop for the whole time or going to California with a bunch of friends to escape the bitter cold. But nothing really changes for me.

I can be content with “home” for break this year, but I wonder if I’ll ever be adventurous enough to go on that crazy trip to Europe, going from hostel to hostel, eating authentic chocolate croissants in France and traveling by gondola down fairy tale waterways in Italy. It’s worth reminding myself that I only have a few winter breaks left in my college career.

This year, my goal is to do something out of the ordinary for break. I’ve promised myself I will not waste away in front of the TV or in the same diner night after night with my friends. My advice would be for you to do the same. Do at least one thing you wouldn’t expect yourself to do. If you can’t make it to Europe (like most of us), no worries, there are plenty of other options.

Go on a day trip to Canada (if you’re lucky enough to live near the border), try to cook a whole Mexican dinner with your friends, listen to all the songs on your Ipod (even the bad ones) at least once, watch the “top 20 movies of all time” from Internet Movie Data Base and read other people’s opinions of them, volunteer somewhere, go skiing/snowboarding (if there is snow in your area), knit something or even tie dye a whole outfit and wear it outside your house without being ashamed. It might be harder than you think.

Canada isn’t exactly Europe, and tie dye might not be quite as amusing as chocolate croissants, but at least it’s something different. Try and make your break unique.

Kraus is a member of the class of 2009.

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