By Wendy Tafur
While it’s true we come to the U.S. to study, experience the culture, and improve our language skills, I think we all reach a point where we just feel a little burnt out. Emotionally and mentally, it can get exhausting to always show your best side, keep up with assignments, and occasionally be misunderstood because of some language barrier. You start feeling like you need a break, and that starts making you homesick as well.
In my case, I wouldn’t be able to go home for just a couple of days. The tickets would be too expensive and the trip too long to go Friday and come back Sunday. So, what’s the second best solution?
If there is too much work to do or it gets complicated, little day trips serve the same purpose. You can go skiing for the evening, downtown to a nice coffee shop, or to popular tourist locations. But if you have time, two-days-one-night kind of trips are the most refreshing way to pick yourself back up.
I never realized how effective getaways could be until my senior year in Seattle University. I usually waited for longer breaks such as Thanksgiving, winter break, or spring break. I didn’t realize there were so many options nearby.
When you’re studying and living abroad for a few years, it’s easy to lose the balance between work and rest. It’s easy to forget that it’s not just about studying, but also about truly enjoying and living. You may even think that something like a weekend getaway can be a waste of time and money, but there are clear benefits. You come back and you feel recharged, you have stories to tell, and you’ll even become more productive since you’re happier and well-rested.
Weekend getaways can be a break from the routine. I had a friend that was planning to book a room in Vancouver for a couple of days because he wanted to sit alone and read, and it was a short drive. My brother used to go to the mountains and snowboard almost every weekend when he was a student. Last Friday, two friends and I were talking about our futures, what’s stressful, and what we’re scared of. The next day at 7:30am we were driving to Portland and Cannon Beach before driving back Sunday evening.
Sure, the beach wasn’t like my Ecuadorian beaches, but since there’s no sales tax in Oregon, we were glad to buy matching sweatshirts, play in the sand, and let our feet freeze a little in the cold sea water. It was beautiful. We sang and played road-trip games the whole way back to Seattle. We had dinner together and felt ready to take on the next few weeks.
A lot of times, feeling sad, homesick, and unmotivated is all connected to being physically tired. When it gets exhausting, when you feel you need a break, you don’t have to go too far to recharge. Just leaving the usual places, finding a new park for a picnic or jumping in a lake with the right friends can be all you need to feel better.