6 ways to make the most out of your semester break | The Daily Star
12:00 AM, April 14, 2017 / LAST MODIFIED: 02:15 PM, April 17, 2017

6 ways to make the most out of your semester break

Let's be honest here. You are not going to score an internship for the two-week vacation you get at the end of the term. Neither are you going to be partying 24/7. But that hardly means the entire vacation has to go to waste. If you set realistic goals and set aside plenty of time to relax, the two weeks can be a perfect way to de-stress, and also get a few productive things done in the process.

1. Volunteer

There are plenty of organisations that arrange day long volunteering programmes which can give you an opportunity to network and hone your leadership skills, all the while having fun and giving back to society. Plenty of these organisations also require you to brainstorm and come up with innovative ideas, thus jogging your creativity in the process. You could volunteer at a retirement home or spend some time at an orphanage. JAAGO, Durnibar, CommunityAction, Youth of Bangladesh, and One Degree Foundation are just some of the options you could look into. Some organisations also provide recommendation letters and awards for your brilliant work, which could help you build your resume too.

2. Travel

If possible, arrange a trip outside Dhaka with your friends or family. There are lots of beautiful places inside the country that are low-budget and are perfect for students. You could opt to spend a few days in the tea gardens of Sylhet or the beaches in Cox's Bazar. However, whether you choose a scenic place or somewhere historic, make it a point to learn something about the region and interact with the locals. You could start a personal project of your own – be it photography or journal entries or even filming documentaries – which would improve your creativity and organising skills. 

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3. Learn

This one truly has no bounds – learn an instrument, a new language, or how to cook. It could even be world history! You could check out YouTube videos on various subjects to make your learning easier, or try specialised sites such as Duolingo to learn languages, Codecademy to learn coding, or CreativeLive for arts and design. Skills such as learning Photoshop, InDesign or Excel are never out of date, and you are sure to be at an advantage if you take a bit of time out of each day to practice these. If you are looking for something more related to your course, MIT OpenCourseWare is a good place to start, with course materials and classroom lectures from MIT. If online learning is not your thing, there are often two-week long workshops on skills such as cooking or painting around town that you can try out.

4. Get fit

With a bit of time on your hands, why not take on an exercise programme and monitor your eating habits? Try yoga or go for the morning jog you are usually too tired for. Alternatively, you could try riding the bicycle more instead of using your car. You could join BDCyclists or organise cycling events for your community yourself! Not only will it help you build stamina, but you would also end up making a few new friends in the process. 

5. De-clutter

Do you still have all your old books, notebooks, and files lying around? Why not use the vacation to clean up a bit and get more organised? Neatly organize your current notebooks in shelves, and colour-code them so that it is easier for you to find something later. Throw out the old unnecessary stuff while you are at it. That way you will find it much simpler to work when your semester starts.

In fact, you would be surprised at what you can find cleaning up. There are always the old DVDs that you do not enjoy anymore, books you are done reading, and gifts you never really used. While donating them is always an option, you could even sell them at online sites like Bikroy.com, ask your friends to find you takers, or post in Facebook groups.

6. Re(gain) focus

Between the countless quizzes and assignments, it is quite easy to lose focus in your life. Use this time to research on potential careers, get advice from your seniors, and talk to those already in the industry. Think about your goals – both short-term and long term! Meditate and read motivational blogs. Get to know the professors in your department – what they like in students, how they grade, and how they teach. This way, you will know exactly what to expect from your upcoming semesters. Also, create a basic resume that you can keep working on as time goes by. 

What is important in your vacation is, once again, to not overwork yourself. Doing that all throughout your semester is more than enough. Do not attempt to do everything at once. Take it one day at a time, and you might just surprise yourself at your progress.


The writer is a second-year student of Computer Science and Engineering at BRAC University


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