PHOTO CREDIT: https://seattleregister.com/
With the holiday season comes a new set of challenges for new student veterans.
A well-intended vacation for most can come with boredom, loneliness and the loss of a sense of purpose, in addition to the gap in GI Bill payments for the duration of college holidays.
Why This Can Be Problematic
In the military most of us worked long hours without many days off. The 30 days of leave a year we accumulated would oftentimes be spent making up for all of our time away or sometimes not used until our terminal leave. The typical college vacations include about a month during the winter and up to three months during the summer. With shorter work days and weekends off (for most students), we can sometimes find ourselves not needing to use our vacations making up for lost time, especially if we are living near or with family instead of thousands of miles away. This can lead to a loss of activities during breaks.
The GI Bill only pays a monthly housing allowance (MHA) during months you are actually attending classes. It is important to try to budget your finances to allot yourself enough money for when MHA is not being paid. Read these 7 Ways to Budget for Your Transition for help!
Boredom can be a problem too. Find a hobby if you are not working at a job or taking extra classes during school vacations. Spending time with family and friends is important, but there is only so much “hanging out” one can do before boredom sets in. If you do not have a hobby, consider volunteering somewhere, going somewhere to meet new people, or picking up extra hours at work.
For those of us who are not involved in a romantic relationship, loneliness can be an issue. Most of my friends are fellow students at school. While I do stay in touch with them and try my best to see them even during breaks, it is difficult to go from spending eight hours a day with them to spending one hour a week together. Many of our friends at school may be traditional students who go out of state during school vacations. I try to touch base with people before the semester ends and figure out who will still be in the area. Staying connected to people is important.
Loss of a Sense of Purpose
During school vacations it is important to remember that you are still working toward a degree, certificate or diploma. Even though you are not actively taking classes, those long-term goals have not changed. A sense of purpose is important for an overall healthy life.
Maintaining the Academic Mindset
At the beginning of each semester it can be difficult to get back into the academic mindset. This is another positive of taking winter semester and summer semester classes; however, if those are not for you, consider doing some reading, writing or projects during the break.
READ NEXT: Get Involved on Campus as a Veteran