Returning home for Thanksgiving and winter breaks can be such a relief, but it can also be stressful. The abrupt transition from college life to home life presents challenges that some new students don’t expect, but ultimately the holidays are what you make of them. Depending on how long your winter break is, you might be home for two weeks, or you might be home for a month—which can be a really long time! Sometimes it helps to mentally prepare for what you’re going to read It can be hard to go readjust to the rules of home, even if those rules aren’t strict. My family doesn’t have a lot of rules for me to follow, but I can’t go out to the store in the middle of the night to pick up Gummy Worms like I would when I’m living in a dorm. I can’t eat pizza four nights a week when my mom’s cooking dinner, and I have to let people know when I’m leaving the house. Although these are rules that I lived with in high school—and they’re by no means unreasonable!—when you’ve been living by yourself and making your own decisions all semester, any sort of rules can feel really weird. Make sure to communicate the things you need to the people around you in a calm and respectful way, in order to help those around you understand what you’re going through. Also, in college, there’s always something to do. If I’m not studying, I’m hanging out with friends; if I’m not hanging out with friends, I’m doing chores; if I’m not doing chores, I’m desperately trying to sleep. But when I go home, I don’t have homework, and I can’t hang out with my friends as much, so I’m left watching too many Netflix specials. That’s why I either look for a seasonal job or try to return to the job I held over summer break. Both are great ways to make money for the next semester and build onto your resume. Volunteering is also a really nice thing to do over the holiday break—giving back to your community and making new connections is an awesome way to commemorate the holiday season, while getting job experience! Remember, also, to take some time for yourself. You just got through a whole semester of college, and you’ll probably have just finished exams. That high stress situation can leave you feeling wound up and tense, so look out for yourself and make sure your mental health is up to par. For me, returning home for the holidays always makes me feel a little bit off. While I enjoy hugging my dog and not paying to do my laundry, I always feel like something’s missing. But I just need to remind myself to slow down, take a deep breath, and enjoy the colder weather and time with my family. Even though college and studying keeps me so busy that I feel like a part of me is missing when I’m not occupying my time with something academic, it’s good for me to remember my time isn’t wasted when I’m baking with my mom or decorating with my dad. And maybe that will be helpful advice for you, too!