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Second Chance Semester

Google searches containing the words “adjusting back”, “second semester”, and “homesickness” returns a series of articles providing advice for college students struggling to return to college after a sluggish winter break. Weirdly enough, the majority of articles are targeted towards first years (or, more accurately, the concerned mothers of first years). Barely stated is the fact that for many college students – not just first years – second semester represents many challenges.

I’m writing this not to further bum people out amidst the snow and black ice of Bates winter, but to let students know that the “post-break blues” is a real and formidable force.

Simultaneously one of the best things about college and one of the worst is the fact that each semester represents a completely fresh start. Bombed one of your finals or got into a huge fight with a friend? Now’s your chance to move on and (try to) forget what happened. However, the fresh start can also be disorienting.

As a routine-based person, this is a big deal. It feels strange to arrive at Bates and be thrown into different classes, all at different times and in different academic buildings. Last semester, it took months to settle into the atmosphere of each class and build relationships with professors and class friends. Now that process starts over, and it inevitably takes time to adjust.

Also disorienting is the sudden lifestyle shift from home to college. First off is the location change – especially if you’re from a city, sunny climate, or different country altogether. But there’s also the fact that you had a whole month to settle into your home routine. If you’re anything like me, you’ve spent the majority of the past month watching loads of Netflix, getting used to being around indulging family, and reminiscing with high school friends.

For first years especially, the lead-up to second semester can be a hot mess. Your home friends are ecstatic about returning to parties, hook-ups, and all their new friends. You, on the other hand, can’t stop thinking about what a bummer it is that you once again have to share a bathroom, go to the dining hall, and – the clincher – do homework.

The best advice I can give you about “post-break blues” is that they are only temporary. Adjustment often happens faster than you think, and second semester provides loads of opportunities to look forward to. Pretty soon comes Winter Carnival, and with it Puddle Jump, when people dress up in crazy costumes (be prepared to see at least a few guys pretty much naked) and brave the ice.

There’s also 90s dance and more lowkey events like Village Club Series every Thursday night, which runs all year but is especially cozy during the winter months. Being able to hear genuinely great artists (last semester welcomed groups including the Ballroom Thieves and Tall Heights) and enjoy free chai, hot chocolate, and cookies is truly a blessing. If sports are more your speed, you might as well head to the Outing Club now to rent free boots and skis in preparation for endless weekend trips to Lost Valley and Sunday River.

Also don’t forget the fact that the blistering cold also means more nights staying in. Good thing there’s a tidal wave of new TV shows and movies hitting Netflix and theatres alike. Do me a favor and hit up Sex Education and You on Netflix (both have second seasons now!). You won’t regret it.

Yes, second semester is disorienting and wild and cold. But it is also a welcome second chance; an opportunity to start over if you need it – whether that is with friends, extracurriculars, or academics – and throw yourself into new experiences. Welcome back.