Preparing for the spring semester on campus and abroad: Playing Doctor

Posted by Adam Cohen

It's the first week back from our short Thanksgiving break — though it was more a tease than anything else — and it also happens to be the second to last week of the semester, so naturally most of us are having trouble doing work even though the workload is at its toughest.

At the same time, we're thinking about how badly we'd like winter break to come and are beginning to look forward to the spring.

This spring, I will be studying abroad in Copenhagen, Denmark. Now, I mean no offence to my loyal readers, but don't expect my column to be here while I'm gone.

But before I leave, I figured I'd give some advice on the spring semester — for those going abroad and those staying on campus.

First of all, for those going abroad, I think a commendation is in order, so congratulations! It's a big deal to spend an entire semester in a foreign place where you will most likely be less comfortable (at least in the beginning) than at home. Even if it is a domestic program, spending time in new area is a challenge.

It's kind of hard for me to discuss what to expect when abroad since I haven't done it yet; the best advice I can give is what I've been telling myself in preparation for going abroad.

The first thing that comes to my mind is to just relax. Don't think you're the only student who is worried, nervous, upset or intimidated — everyone going abroad is anxious in some form or another. It's natural.

But don't let it overwhelm you. Chances are, everything is going to be fine — we've all made the transition to college, it'll be easy enough to transition to college abroad.

Next, learn to take everything in stride. It doesn't pay to be unnecessarily worried over small things like whether you'll be able to tell time on a 24 hour clock, calculate currency values or learn a new language (things I admittedly think about).

When the time comes, trust your ability to pick it up. If there's anything college has taught me, it's that learning something new is not as difficult as it really seems. For instance, in my pursuit of a major, I studied everything from ancient Greek to art history to business, all with no intention of majoring in those areas. I may have forgotten a lot of what I learned, but I was nonetheless able to do it with enough studying.

And finally, don't forget to keep up with things you do at home. If you have a certain diet, try to keep up with it, or at least keep a similar schedule. If you exercise regularly, try to do that too — I bet there are a lot of cool things you can do to replace running on a treadmill. In Copenhagen, I'll most likely be doing a lot of bike riding or walking around the city to replace my usual fitness class.

Find things that work for you — with the bombardment of culture shock this could prove difficult, but finding a balance is key to your wellbeing and it is definitely achievable.

Now, back to Skidmore. For those who will still be here for next semester, I've got just the same basic tips as always, but some more seasonal advice.

The beginning of the spring semester is anything but spring. There's a good chance there will be at least a foot of snow on the ground when you return from winter break.

And once you're back on the small campus with that kind of weather, Skid-plague will probably rear its ugly head again. Take precautions against sickness — it's worth your effort. Eat right, even if it means facing the cold to go to D-Hall or go food shopping, rather than eating Ramen for a week straight.

Go to the gym once or twice a week -- I'm sure a run on the treadmill will thaw out your toes. Or, if you prefer, check out the town in the snow; Saratoga Springs and the surrounding area is a beautiful place to be in the wintertime. Go for a snowshoeing expedition in the North Woods!

If you're going to stay indoors, being snowed in is a great excuse to get some homework done — after your sledding and snowball fight.

Once the weather warms up, you know the drill: get outside ASAP. I'll definitely miss that part of the spring semester at Skidmore. And have a great fun day! I hope to see some great pictures.

So goodbye for now, or as they say in Danish, farvel. Be well, and enjoy the upcoming semester!

Adam Cohen is a junior Peer Health Educator who knows more about your body than you do.

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