Hopkins students have one of the longest winter breaks between semesters. For five weeks, we get to not worry about homework, exams, assignments, or anything having to do with school. Of course, this is only the case if you opt out of intersession. Intersession cuts the break down to two weeks, but it provides a special learning experience that is unique to Hopkins. You get to take small, interesting, and eclectic classes without the stress of grading (you take them pass/fail). Now having done both, I want to go over the pros and cons of both options, to help everyone else figure out which they’d prefer to do!

Intersession Pros and Cons:

Intersession is a great time to explore new avenues and new fields. You can take classes that you wouldn’t necessarily have time for in the semester, or are outside of your major or graduation requirements. Also, since these classes are usually less time consuming, you get more time to explore the city and find things to do in Baltimore, even during the week. In the semester, usually these types of excursions for me are limited to weekends. During intersession, with less homework to keep up with, exploring something new can become a daily ritual. Also, doing an intersession class doesn’t necessarily mean giving up your whole break. Freshman year, I did a B’more class. These are week-long classes focusing on Baltimore and different ways of learning and understanding more about the city. I took a class on photography; we went to famous Baltimore locations and neighborhoods and also learned how to take good photos without (surprisingly helpful) automatic settings.

The main con of doing an intersession class is that it means making the winter break shorter. It means less time that is completely free. However for students who want to continue learning in new subjects, and more about the city that we all live in, it is definitely the right choice!

Look! Wearing shorts in January!

Getting to see the Museum of Ice Cream in Miami during the third week of winter break!

Month-Long Winter Break Pros and Cons:

This year I stayed at home for the whole winter break. It definitely had it’s benefits. I was able to see my family for longer and I was able too see my friends from back home more often too! I was also able to stay at a place that is sunny and 70 degrees in winter and avoid a lot of crazy weather. Having such a larger break gave me a lot more time. I used it to work on applications for internships, for the spring and the summer. I also made money with a retail job to work the snow bird/holiday rush. At the same time, it was great to be home just to relax after a long fall semester, and to spend time at home beyond the hectic days of the holidays. Since I plan on staying in . Baltimore for the summer, this will be my longest time at home for quite a while. After that, I won’t be back until Thanksgiving Break.

Many people use intersession as a way to transition into the spring semester. Without it, it’s a harder to get back into the routine of school. Intersession is also a great way for students to fulfill some of the requirements for graduation, and to study abroad if they don’t have a chance to during their semesters or summers. Taking a longer break eliminates these options.