A guide to the first break of the semester
As we approach the first semester break since in-person classes began, students are feeling a mix of emotions. There is certainly relief that comes with a halt in the endless flood of homework and more human contact than anyone has had in over a year, but there are also feelings of anxiety upon returning home, or even staying alone in the city.
While many students are choosing to go home this season, there are quite a few who do not have the luxury to return home for Thanksgiving Break. Returning home after a few months with the freedom that college brings can be intimidating, but this year it is especially challenging.
Most students were home for a year and a half, and this semester beginning in-person brought a change of scenery and a chance to be away from whatever their place of living means to them. For some students, this change brings joy and comfort as their home life may be difficult or unsafe. As students prepare for a few days off, The Pace Press has compiled a list of things to do if you’re staying in New York City over the break!
A time-honored tradition of turning an uncomfortable dinner with your extended family into a joyous occasion with your chosen family. Many people, especially in NYC, live far from their families or cannot see their families due to work and other commitments. Without the time to travel, people will gather their friends and enjoy a day of each others’ company and food. Oftentimes, people come to NYC in search of a family of their own, making this holiday the perfect time to celebrate with friends who feel like family.
See a Broadway show
While Broadway does go dark for the actual day of Thanksgiving, it is a fun idea to score tickets to a show during the week of break. With Broadway shows reopening this year, there are plenty of performances to see that could possibly even be discounted at the TKTS booth in Times Square. There are also lotteries to see shows at a discounted rate!
Bryant Park Winter Village
The Bryant Park Winter Village is full of fun activities, eats and shopping to cater to everyone’s needs. It consists of many kiosks that sell food, clothes, gifts, etc. and there is also a large Christmas tree with an ice skating rink where people skate for free if they bring their own skates! For gifts, students can stop by the various kiosks selling clothes and eclectic items or visit one of the many famous food stands like “Destination Dumplings,” “Frida’s Favorites Mexican Cantina” and “Doughnuttery.”
Students going home for Thanksgiving Break can be faced with many things. For some, home brings back negative connotations and can be met with painful feelings. As we head into this period of adjustment, The Pace Press has collected resources for those struggling with leaving the city in the coming weeks.
University senior and English major, Joy Savoy, told The Pace Press: “While going home for the holidays can be contentious for a number of reasons, it is important to establish a precedent of full disclosure to our loved ones. we need dialogue if we are ever to rid ourselves of this ignorance.”
Create a safety plan
Making a safety plan before returning home can bring a sense of security and preparedness to those feeling uncomfortable with their home situation. Whether feeling physically or emotionally unsafe, a safety plan can ensure that you have a guide of what you can do for yourself when you’re unable to think clearly. Whether that plan entails safe spaces for you to go when you need to leave the current space you’re in, activities to calm you down, or people you can call when you need a shoulder to lean on, that provided safety blanket could make the world of difference this break.
Bring home things that make you feel comfortable
Whether it be an outfit that reminds you of NYC or your favorite candle, bringing home something that sparks joy is essential. It can make people feel out of place to return home for the first time in the semester, so it is important to have items to ground oneself in their space.
Get rest when you can
While there are many family events to attend throughout the break, hopefully students can make some much-needed time for rest. After a harrowing semester that has left many students stressed and unable to handle their workload, it is incredibly necessary to give oneself care and the attention they need to get through the rest of the semester. With a few days of having some extra rest, students can finish out the semester strong!
Students should also be aware of the resources that are available to them at the University. The Counseling Center is available for group and individual therapy sessions that can be helpful in preparation for Thanksgiving Break and January Intersession. Another resource for students is the LGBTQIA+ Center at the University. On Nov. 16, the Center is offering a seminar called “Home For the Holidays,” which will give students the opportunity to share their anxieties about the break and allow for a sense of community.
The Pace Press spoke with the director of the Center, LaDarius Dupree, who had some helpful insight for students concerned about returning home.
Dupree stated, “Going home for the holidays can be such a magical time for many people. Reconnecting with family or friends, getting that much needed break from the usual day-to-day hustle of working hard towards a successful future and being immersed in familiar environments can bring such a sense of calm for those momentarily separated from the core of our beginnings.”
“However, when examining LGBTQ individuals in particular, going home for the holidays may not bring this same sense of calm that so many people look forward to during these special times of the year. In fact, going home for the holidays is a daunting, stressful, and minimizing task for large chunks of the Queer community.”
Dupree continued, “One of the most central issues for LGBTQ populations is the dynamic of family: from not being able to express our embodied gendered and sexual identities to oppressive childhoods that have created a lifetime of traumas, to complex concessions we have to make between individual livelihood and collective community, Queer perspectives of holiday engagement with family formations often place us in a dizzying limbo of emotion that makes the holiday season feel more akin to a world of greyed-violence than the one of light and warmth conventional thought blankets as ‘the holiday experience.’”
They finished, saying, “So—for my Queer folk navigating any holiday period—whether one has a supportive environment to go back to or they’re on a journey of individualized peace that prevents one from reengaging in the ‘home’ environment: know that there are ups and downs to each era of our lives. Know that one of the most beautiful things about the human experience is the diversity in experiences we have, that contribute to the multifaceted beings we become. Know that we must snatch those moments of happiness wherever they may come from – whether that’s from sitting down with your family over dinner or the calm of mind from knowing that you can navigate this world solo and away from folk that doesn’t have your best interests at heart.
Queerness is not limited to sexuality or gender identity – queerness opens a realm of exploration for us to define and celebrate ourselves in ways that exist outside of traditional thought – which includes establishing definitions of ‘home’ and ‘family’ that aren’t represented in pop discourse’s packaging of what the holiday experience is supposed to be.”
The Pace Press wishes everyone a happy, healthy and safe holiday!