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Most students around the world are currently in the midst of one of the most anticipated few weeks of the school year: Winter Break. For many, it means a time to go on vacation, spend time with loved ones, open presents, play in the snow, and so much more. There’s an almost tangible sense of jolliness, happiness, and all around exuberance as the break sets in.

Until you look at the oceans of what we call…secondary school students.

While we do thoroughly enjoy being able to not see our schools for weeks…there’s still a faint, yet persistent, sense of dread that many students feel at the pits of their stomachs as the holiday break progresses. In the first two of my three weeks of break alone I’ve had an excess of stress-inducing conversations. Most along the lines of:

  • “SAT scores come out in a week.”
  • “My SAT scores are killing me.”
  • “I still need to finish two paintings for art class.”
  • “I need to do my math homework and study for finals.”
  • “I have no clue what to do for TOK.”
  • “I need to study for ____”
  • “Help.”
  • “College.”
  • “Life.”
  • “ugh.”
  • “School is in one week.”

Mind you, I’m most definitely not the most booked of students over the break. I have no tutoring/academies or excessive amounts of family plans. I just have school clawing at the back of my mind…like any other relatively involved high school student. The pressure that follows us into our break seems to act as an inhibitor to even the most festive of times. Like any other time of the year, we’re given projects and assignments, for both academic and extracurricular activities, to complete over the break. Some of which seem a bit tedious, especially in an international school setting where many are travelling around the world. Juniors are expected to continue on the trek towards college searching and standardized test prepping. Seniors need to finish their final college apps and begin exam prep. It’s all quite intense stuff. While it’s definitely true that a majority of these things are necessary to progress and further develop our educations, we can’t help but feel like a portion of our much needed breaks are slipping from our fingers in the blur of these academic stressors, no?

Stress (eustress) on its own is definitely beneficial to our daily lives, as long as it comes in the right amounts. Yet, it’s almost as if every year, there’s new, seemingly unattainable expectations, that simply add to the ever-growing pile of responsibilities students of all ages possess. Though a thorough analysis of current educational systems is another discussion all on its own.

I must not be the only person that finds themselves internally screaming Ross Geller’s infamous line over and over as my homework stares blankly back at me, desperately wishing that I could put aside all responsibilities and truly have a break with no strings attached. Yet that never seems to be the case, and I’m sure it might not be for many other students around the world.

So as many of our winter breaks are soon to be coming to a close, here are my wishes for all of you as this year ends (though, not the year we really want to)…

  • Find some sort of solace in the final week or two when you start to realize just how much we’ve procrastinated.
  • Finish your work at a reasonable time and not at 2 AM before the first day back at school!
  • To finish the break with a bang and fully completed assignments!
  • Being able to wake up on time the first day back!

So here’s to the end of 2015! Many of us are meeting the halfway point through our school years, and while we’re fast approaching that melancholic ditch of mid-year stress, there’s only a few months left until there’s another, slightly less stressful, break!

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