A Laid-back Approach to Fall Break (From a College Senior)

The long-awaited fall break is finally approaching this weekend after a two-year hiatus. Read on to hear about how I plan on unwinding during my last (U-M sanctioned) fall break.

By Maryam Masood October 12, 2021
Blog post - A Laid-back Approach to Fall Break

This semester, we’ve had a lot of “firsts” since before the pandemic. We’ve had the first semester with mainly in-person classes since before the pandemic. The first in-person Festifall since before the pandemic. The first football game with fans since before the pandemic. The list goes on. And now, we’re approaching another first we haven’t had in two years: our first fall break since 2019.

Like all the other firsts that came before, having fall break gives us a lot to celebrate. After experiencing two semesters that were essentially nonstop classes, having a mini-break midsemester feels like an unorthodox treat.

If I’m being honest, my favorite breaks are the kind with no plans. But if you’re looking for some laid-back ways to spend fall break, here are some things I plan on doing this weekend to fuel myself after seven-ish weeks of hard work and procrastination:

  1. Spending time with family. Even though I’m an in-state student, I haven’t spent that much time at home this semester. Therefore, I’ll be spending this break catching up with my mom. As a college senior, I’m realizing this might be the last year I’ll be in close proximity to home, so I don’t mind that I’m not flying anywhere this break and can use this time to watch the turkeys that live in my backyard, play some chess/Scrabble, go on walks, and complain about how short break is.
A tree adorned by shoes off a walking path near my house.
  1. Eating good food. I’ve been pretty lazy the past few weeks when it comes to making food, mostly because I hate spending time cooking when I could be doing anything else. It’s also usually a pain to get groceries on campus, although as of last month, we now have Target on Central Campus (located on South State Street) with a decent amount of fresh produce stocked. I’m excited to enjoy food at home after many weeks of having to bear my subpar cooking.
Indian chickpea masala
  1. Watching the Great British Baking Show. Truly a cinematic masterpiece. If you’re in need of a feel-good show and haven’t watched yet, check it out.
  2. “Window shopping for jobs.” I made a promise to myself back in August to not start looking for jobs until December (mostly to keep myself sane) unless I see a posting that perfectly matches my interests. Nevertheless, I have started to do what I call “window shopping for jobs,” which is essentially browsing and saving job postings that I think are interesting. The purpose of this is two-fold: one, so I’m aware of what's out there and can build a mental taxonomy of my work interests/preferences for when I later apply to jobs; and two, because I genuinely enjoy going through job postings when I don’t have to apply for them.
  3. Reading. If I’m being honest, I probably won’t do this. Reading is something that is more of an aspirational goal than an actual pastime for me, but I have been trying to get better about reading for pleasure more often. Over the summer, I paid an exorbitant amount of money (OK, like $20) for three books, and I’m making it a mission to finish the third by Thanksgiving.
Two books on a bookshelf.
  1. Find a ticket to the Indiana game. I didn’t purchase season tickets because I knew I wouldn’t attend enough of the games to merit buying them, but I’ve put it on my to-do list to get a hold of a ticket to the Indiana game (taking place in early November) before the prices get too crazy. Fall break is a prime opportunity to scour through the depths of Facebook (since finding resale tickets and roommates is all Facebook is good for anymore) to find a reasonably priced ticket.
  2. Organizing my files and emails. I know this doesn’t sound very exciting or relaxing. But I’m the kind of person who tends to let my inbox fill up so I don’t forget to respond to something important or lose sight of information (which sounds contradictory, but it works for me). I also tend to keep multiple copies of the same file in my laptop and Drive, which leads to very inefficient storage usage. I’m excited to sort through this so I can go into the second half of the semester with a “clean slate.”
  3. Swapping out summer clothes for winter items. In years past, fall break was usually the time I exchanged summer clothes for bulkier winter jackets and sweaters. While picking up my winter jacket is a dreaded reminder of the Michigan cold to come, I would rather be prepared for the cold than not!
  4. Make a new Spotify playlist. This has been an activity I’ve been able to put off for weeks by relying on premade playlists (which are now just inundated with TikTok music) and my Discover Weekly (Spotify’s automated custom playlist based on your music preferences). While I usually enjoy the algorithm, it tends to have a hard time generating playlists that cross multiple genres.

    Now that we’ve switched back to in-person classes, I find myself constantly walking again — to class, student org meetings, and just random outings and errands. Having some good tunes to listen to is a great way to make the time pass faster or slower, depending on where I’m headed. My goal is to compile a playlist that’ll fill that time.
Spotify playlist
  1. Catching up on assignments. I know that fall break is supposed to be a break. But I’m a firm believer that sometimes the best “self care” you can do for yourself is to get stuff done so you don’t have to stress about it later. I’m using fall break as a reset to get through the random assignments I’ve let slip behind with the goal of not finding myself cramming it in a few minutes before it’s due. And if I’m being honest, as a senior with a lower-stress academic plate than usual thanks to semesters of overloading on credits, I don’t need the break as much as I would have in years past.

These are just a handful of things I look forward to this coming weekend, but there are so many different ways to recharge. Whether you plan on staying in Ann Arbor, returning home, or traveling this fall break, stay safe and spend your time in a way that fuels you. Happy fall break, Wolverines!

Maryam Masood

Maryam Masood (she/her) is a senior in the College of Literature, Science, and the Arts majoring in Organizational Studies. During the year, she keeps busy managing the Michigan Refugee Assistance Program and working as a trainer at Rec Sports. Outside of class and work, she can most likely be found making another cup of coffee, procrastinating at the CCRB, or rewatching Kim's Convenience on Netflix.