Just chilling at Baltimore’s Inner Harbor
Our freshman-year winter break is when we remember that no matter how much college may feel like “home,” the family, friends and surroundings that nurtured us during years 0-18 are still a big part of us. A whole month without the significant other you met at college, and whose “home” is halfway around the country, can feel like forever. Winter break is thus the perfect time to familiarize him with your humble beginnings, or vice versa. You may spend a holiday at his house or just a few days in the middle of the epic break. Either way, the normal on-campus routine doesn’t apply, friends are replaced with moms, dads, and little sisters, and awkwardness can potentially ensue!
Sarah shared some etiquette for diving into your bf/gf’s family Thanksgiving dinner that also applies to Christmas or Hanukkah, and Shannon’s ideas for making a mark on your own family’s Thanksgiving (or Christmas, Hanukkah, etc.) are great tips for attending your bf/gf’s celebration as well. After prepping with these guides and acing the holiday feast, there are still many more hours to fill; there’s pressure to make that time exciting if you’re the host, and pressure to enjoy them if you’re not. Here are a few tips to ease you in.
**Tips and Tricks**
Sleeping arrangements. Now is not the time, frisky bunnies!! Although parents know what usually goes on in dorm room twin beds, they are often uncomfortable welcoming it into their home with open arms. Wait for one of your hosts to bring up the topic of whether there’s an air mattress or couch in the extra bedroom, or if you are allowed the coveted shared bed. Then, cheerfully accept either way. I’m not gonna tell you how to live your life “after hours,” but let’s err on the side of caution and respect the people that raised us.
Filling the hours. There is probably “nothing to do” in the mid-sized suburb where your partner grew up. Dating New Yorkers or Chicagoans is fabulous, yes, but more often than not, world-class entertainment will not be at your fingertips. So, it’s up to you to approach your hometown or his with a tourist-like curiosity. Ask: What’s the go-to ice cream or pizza place? Where do you get your favorite sandwich? Where do people go just to “walk around”? What are nearby tourist attractions you haven’t been to in years or museums you went to on field trips? Even the mall that you grew up frequenting has its stories and quirks. These places aren’t inherently interesting, but the fact that they played a part in your/your partner’s history makes them meaningful.
Seals playing at the zoo in DC (not a small town, but I don’t have a photo of us at Main Street Creamery in Wethersfield, CT)
Meeting the high school crew. Since most colleges have similar breaks, your loved one is probably thrilled to show you off as a symbol of his collegiate social success to the peers who accompanied him through the most painful and embarrassing of years. Be forewarned that depending on their social graces, people may or may not actively engage you in conversation, inquire where you’re from, what you’re into, etc. They don’t hate you; you’re probably just the first person any of their friends has dated that didn’t go to elementary school with them. If you’re more outgoing, go ahead and take the initiative. If not, try and jump in with an opinion or anecdote every now and then, and listen and enjoy stories of days gone by even though it would probably be funnier if you knew the people they were about.
Establishing intermissions. You might spend 23 hours together a day at school, but that one hour of alone time is psychologically important. Depending on the duration of your stay, the truly constant togetherness can start to wear. Prepare for this by bringing a book or your own laptop to give each other some time to “chill.” Taking a short break from whispering and giggling a mile a minute does not reflect poorly on your relationship. Rather, it does wonders for your sanity.
Jen Cantin recently graduated from Clark University in Worcester, Mass. with a degree in English and Journalism. She shares other (a)musings at Deep Fried Epiphany and dedicates this post to Adam’s favorite Jerry’s freaking Subs at White Flint Mall, where mediocrity and small selection is a badge of honor.