It’s Time for a Break
’26s share hopes and plans for their first Winterim
In the words of “The Office” character Kevin Malone, “I just want to lie on the beach and eat hot dogs. That’s all I’ve ever wanted.”
At the end of my first 10 week marathon sprint here at Dartmouth, the cold, the sickness, the never-ending stream of work and the inevitability of my go-to Foco sandwich for lunch are starting to get to me. Like Kevin, I dream of warmth and comfortable food. And others do too — whether it’s visible in their stuffy noses or disguised by a radiant smile, many ’26s eagerly await the opportunity to be back home with family, friends and pets. Importantly, this will also be our first time navigating the College’s unusually long winter break.
Daniela Maksin ’26 said she anticipates the chance to “go back to all of [her] favorite places” at home and revive herself with their relaxed sanctity. Claire O’Flynn ’26 said she cannot wait to “spend time with family.” Personally, I am craving a couple days glued to my warm bed and pillow.
Many ’26s have aspects of home that creep out of memories and into the center of our minds when the stress of college life takes hold. It is completely normal, I remind myself, to feel a little homesick.
Amidst a flurry of new Dartmouth vocabulary, “winterim” (short for for winter interim) is one of the most alluring, yet mysterious, concepts for first-years facing the end of fall term. Because of its length, winterim is a confusing experiment for some. Returning home can be exciting, but for six weeks? What is one to do for six weeks under no direction? Surely an internship? Research? Jobs? Shadowing? Something?
“Disorienting” is the word that Maksin used to describe the variety of possibilities for our oddly timed winter break. ’26s like myself can feel uncertainty in the face of the impending separation from our new home here at Dartmouth. Maksin likened the break to the end of August, when almost all of our friends were already at their new colleges while we were still waiting to ship up to Dartmouth for the fall term. Maksin said that it might be “weird” to be “back home without having all of our home friends back with us.”
After comparing my winter break dates with those of my friends from home, I have to agree. Dartmouth unflinchingly has a different kind of break, whether you embrace the oddity or find stress in the length of unstructured time.
Nevertheless, the ’26s I spoke to expected many good things to come from this time away from Dartmouth, as well. “Everyone is sick,” O’Flynn observed, and as a chronic cougher since week seven myself, I agree that the break will (hopefully) do wonders for the immune system.
Additionally, O’Flynn expressed confidence that the time away from Dartmouth’s pressure cooker will be “refreshing” for the body and mind. When we come back, O’Flynn said she believes it will feel like “the first day of school again.”
“The length provides the time to actually adjust back home,” O’Flynn said, for first-years to reacquaint with our lives before Dartmouth. Ideally, previously battered ’26s will come out the other side of winterim rejuvenated and smiling and ready for anything that comes our way.
On the academic side of things, O’Flynn said that since the term ends now, she is grateful to “not have to retain any information” over the long break. I very much agree — the prospect of a fresh academic start with new winter classes feels like something to get excited about.
Maksin said that as soon as her feet find themselves back on the streets of New York City, time is “going to go by very quickly.”
“When you’re home, comfortable with family and friends, there is so much to do,” Maksin added.
Finally, I would add that there is no bad way to spend our time off. Whether you plan to do nothing for six straight weeks and just find sanity outside of relentless schoolwork, or you plan to hang out with a different friend every night, you are doing the right thing.
Despite my own grandiose plans of reunion and relaxation this winterim, I will actually be back at Dartmouth for 16 days to complete an EMT certification course this winterim. Some have called me crazy for this decision, but the eternity that is Dartmouth’s winterim holds enough time for both a stint in the northeastern tundra and a few weeks of home.
Maksin agreed — whatever she may do, she said she plans to “re-appreciate all that makes home special.”
At the end of the day, I believe winterim, in all of its six-week glory, is nothing to be afraid of. It’s a blank slate, and ’26s are ready to write it.
This article was updated (Nov. 16, 12:31 p.m.).