Breaking into Break

As students across campus prepare for winter break, this student blogger shares ideas of things to do at home or if you’re staying in Ann Arbor.

By Ellie Younger December 14, 2021
blog post - Breaking into Break by Ellie

Since my parents’ move, I have found the question of “when are you going home for the holidays” incredibly difficult. This year, rather than going back to Portland, I’ll be spending my break in Ann Arbor. I’ll miss the magic of seeing my hometown friends and engaging in my old rituals and traditions, but I’ve made it my goal to make this winter break as fun and relaxing as possible. Here are some of the things I plan to do this break. Hopefully some of them will resonate with you as well.

  • Ice skate at Yost Ice Arena. Public skate at Yost resumed in December of this year, and I am so excited to return to the ice. It’s $4 for students and $3 for skate rentals, adding up to a great time either alone or with friends. I often find myself slipping, sliding, and falling all over the ice, but I love that ice skating feels like a festive way to ring in the holidays.
  • FaceTime my friends from my hometown. Long distance relationships of any nature always require hard work and upkeep in order to maintain them. It’s difficult to share the ups and downs of college life from thousands of miles away since these friends can’t be by our side experiencing the rollercoaster with us. Thankfully, we have access to modern resources that make the distance feel shorter. I may not be able to fly back to Portland for break, but I’ll have plenty of time to call and FaceTime all the people I love who reside there. It’s a great time to reconnect with friends you haven’t seen!
  • Enjoy the lights in downtown Ann Arbor. One of my favorite things about winter in Ann Arbor is the way that the trees are lit up all along the sidewalks downtown. The bright lights make for a beautiful backdrop at night for walks, drives, or just posing for pictures with friends.

girl on sidewalk posing under the holiday lights in downtown Ann Arbor
Enjoy the lights in downtown Ann Arbor.

  • Break out some puzzles. I have always loved completing jigsaw puzzles, but during the stress of the school year, I do not have the time, nor do I have the space in my house to engage in the practice. During break, with my roommates at their homes and my schoolwork complete, I’ll finally be able to cover the dining room table with tiny pieces.
  • Pick out some great new reads. My absolute favorite thing to do during breaks is to crack open a good book, curl up with some hot cocoa or coffee, and read. One of the great things about Ann Arbor is that there are so many amazing places nearby where you can find great books. The University of Michigan library system offers a great resource, as does the downtown Ann Arbor Public Library, of which I am a frequent patron. If you’re looking for a book you can keep, some of my favorite bookstores are Literati for new books and Dawn Treader for used books.
  • Drink peppermint mochas from all my favorite coffee shops. I love that, during the winter, all of the cafes come up with new, delicious holiday-themed flavors. Ever since I can remember peppermint mochas have been my favorite – I look forward to them all year round. They’re a great way to reward yourself after a long day studying or instantly make an afternoon feel more festive.
  • Binge watch TV. Most college students will probably say that their plans for break involve sleeping and watching television on some form of streaming platform. After a hard semester, we have earned our rest. I recently realized that I’ve only ever watched episodes of “The Great British Baking Show” randomly and out of order, so my plan for break is to start from the beginning. 
  • Watch a movie at the Michigan Theater. In my three years of living in Ann Arbor, I have never actually seen a movie at the Michigan Theater, and one of my goals for break is to change that. They are playing some holiday classics, as well as newly released films, and I’m excited to watch!
  • Bake. During winter, I love eating all of the delicious desserts that the season brings. One of the first things that I plan to do is bake cinnamon rolls, something that reminds me of a tradition my family used to have when I lived at home.
  • Go on hikes. I plan to bundle up and go on hikes nearby or walks in the Arboretum. I know it will be cold, but there is something to be said about the wonder of the crisp air and cool wind on your face while you enjoy everything that nature has to offer.
  • Give back. I plan to donate to charity and volunteer in order to really encompass the spirit of the season. Winter break is great because I have plenty of time on my hands, and I’d love to use that time to help others.
  • Play games. One of my favorite activities is playing board games, and unfortunately during the school year I don’t always have a lot of time to do that. I’m excited to grab some friends and finally sit down to play, whether that be in person or virtually.
  • Self care. This semester has been a stressful one. Dealing with a pandemic, balancing in-person and online classes, and keeping up with our course load has been difficult. It is important to take the break to take care of yourself. I hope to use this time to engage in activities that fill me up and keep me feeling mentally healthy. I plan to color, draw, read, listen to music, do face masks, paint my nails, cook nice meals, and anything else that makes me feel taken care of.

I hope you find joy and comfort in whatever you choose to do this winter break, whether that be inspired by the ideas shared above or not. Ann Arbor boasts lots of activities that make the season special, but it’s also important to take care of yourself and recharge after a hard year. Hopefully you can spend the break with people you love and come back in January ready to take winter semester by storm. 


Ellie Younger

Ellie Younger is a sophomore in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts and plans to study Biopsychology, Cognition and Neuroscience. Ellie volunteers with the Sexual Assault Prevention and Awareness Center (SAPAC) and is happy to have found her U-M community in the club Survivor Michigan, for which she is an HR executive. She loves hiking in her home state of Oregon, conversations about social justice, and good poetry.