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Interim on campus: what to expect?

Campus is cold, quiet and cozy in January— the perfect time to make room for yourself.

Interim is the strange go-between month of January where we students take a blessed break from our usual packed schedules and extracurriculars to travel, focus on one class at a time, or just take a break for a month. It’s a special opportunity to have a month at our disposal to do what we wish with. If you can’t tell, I love interim on campus, but you might wonder how I could arrive at such a conclusion — especially when January weather turns our vibrant campus landscape into an icy hellscape resembling Jupiter’s sixth moon, Europa. 

Ironically, it starts with the favored choice among upperclassmen for the interim — getting away from campus. As a senior, I’ll be without many of my close friends for the month as they go and pursue some fascinating and exciting adventures, presumably in warmer places. For those of us that remain — the first-year class and a handful of hardy and persistent upperclassmen — we’re left with a much smaller and more reserved campus lifestyle. There are fewer events, fewer things to draw our attention or build stress, and a better academic atmosphere that allows us to focus deeply on our singular class of choice. To some, a quiet and uninhabited campus would sound unappealing on paper, but I’d be the first to say that the time spent here over interim provides a rare moment to relax, refocus yourself, and let your mind do some well-deserved wandering after a long fall semester.

A month is the perfect length of time to embark on some well-needed self discovery. I’m a habitual person — I think that strengths and weaknesses come from the habits that we cultivate or refuse to acknowledge. Take this as your opportunity to embark on a new habit — reading more, trying out a new instrument, practicing mindfulness, or testing yourself in the fitness room at Tostrud. There are ample moments to try new things and move closer to the person you want to be. At the same time, the slower pace of the interim gives us time to examine the things about ourselves we might not like, and we might find the space to step away from the things that hold us back. Maybe you take a blessed month away from the ever present screens, practice better habits for your own wellness, or do some emotional examination. Sometimes we never find the time to do these essential things during the busy fall and spring semesters. As we reflect on the passage of the former and prepare to begin the latter, the month of January is a perfect time to seek intentionality.

Eventually, our friends will return from their wonderful journeys around the globe, and they’ll come home with exciting stories and memories. This doesn’t mean that they’ll return to an unchanged population of we, the brave students who remained. They’ll find us relaxed, partially frozen, but a little wiser for it — our experiences sharpened by the cold weather and the exploration we chose to embark on here at home. My advice to you? Don’t spend January waiting for interim to be over — spend it getting closely acquainted with yourself, and doing what you love.

Justin Vorndran is from Osceola, Wis.

His major is English.