Slippery Rock University’s student counseling center hosted a session on Friday called “When Break Isn’t a Break” to address the issues some students may face when they ultimately have to go home for the holidays. The two-hour session was an open discussion, and anyone was welcome to come and go as they pleased.
“What do we think of when we think of break?” John Mathe, the director of the session, asked the audience to begin the discussion.
The room was quiet for a few minutes, and then people started to open up and share their personal stories.
“I worry a lot about my daughter who is also a college student coming home for break,” a member of the audience said. “Her family members ask her a lot of questions and it really stresses her out. Everybody makes mistakes, but my husband’s family really expects a lot from her.”
Mathe said it’s normal to worry more about other people than yourself. He said some of those questions can be hard to answer and sometimes make people uncomfortable, and that college students tend to get asked a lot of these big questions when their families come together over the holidays.
A freshman student mentioned that when she goes home, she doesn’t quite feel at home anymore.
“Being here can feel more like home than being at home,” Mathe said. “Maybe your parents transformed your room, or maybe you just don’t like being told what to do now that you have freedom at college. The space you go home to is not the same space you created for yourself.”
Mathe also mentioned that there are not resources at home like there are at school and that it can be a challenge to get out of the swing of things.
A student agreed with that and said he was more stressed for the long winter break than for the Thanksgiving break because he doesn’t get along well with his family, he has to go visit his grandparents who do not agree with his views for two weeks, and he is “out of the swing of things.”
“I’ll work while I’m home on the long break which will get me out, and I know I’ll be taking lots of long walks on the trail by my house to get away,” he said.
Mathe said that working is a good way to get out of the house and to make some money.
“College students often have anxiety about not having money, so there can be a positive spin because working over break will supply more money,” Mathe said.
Some audience members said that their money goes straight to the next semester and books, which is something that they stress a lot about over break.
Mathe asked how the students learn to be okay over break and how they deal with difficult relatives. Some of his suggestions include changing the subject when asked questions you don’t want to answer and trying to keep getting into arguments to a minimum.
“Dodging those tough conversations is sometimes the best option,” Mathe said.
The counseling center will hold another one of these sessions closer to the five-week winter break for any other students that want to talk about the difficulties they face going home over the holidays.