January and February are sandwiched between the glow of holiday parties and the sunshiny promise of spring break. If we’re being honest, these two months can get a little boring. But listen up! We’re about to change that. Challenge yourself to complete each of these fun winter activities for college students, and you might dub this your new favorite time of year.
Challenge 9: Try a New Self-Care Activity. Bonus Points: If It Becomes Part of Your Weekly Routine.
After the hectic holidays, you deserve some self-care. Here are some ideas:
- Practice mindfulness while eating a square of dark chocolate.
- Join a yoga class or do some easy poses at home.
- Grow a plant in your room. (Plants can actually improve your memory and problem-solving skills. When your roommates ask why you’re growing an enormous fern on your desk, tell them it’s your new study partner.)
- Attend a spiritual event at your campus.
- Create your own face mask from natural ingredients like avocado, honey and oats. Then warn your roommate not to eat it.
Not sure what self-care activity is right for you? Ask your campus wellness center for suggestions.
Challenge 8: Try a Winter Sport. Bonus Points: If You Convince Your Roommate to Join.
Define “winter sport” however you’d like. Hockey? Check. Playing humans versus zombies? Check. Kayaking through mangroves? If you live in Florida, then check!
(One caveat: Running frantically to class because it was too cold to leave your bed and you really wanted to watch just one more episode of Baby Yoda does not count as a winter sport.)
Challenge 7: Learn to Cook a New Dish. Bonus Points: If It’s More Advanced Than Boxed Mac-N-Cheese.
Cooking in a residence hall means you probably don’t have access to a stove, but hey, that’s just part of the challenge, right? And yes, you can make chocolate cake in a mug. This is a good way to impress your roommates so they stop complaining about the forest of ferns you’ve accumulated.
Challenge 6: Have a Movie Night. Bonus Points: If You Don’t Waste Two Hours Scrolling Through Netflix.
The holidays may be over, but the weather outside is still frightful, your bed is so delightful, and since you’ve no place to go — it’s time for binge-watching. Here’s a sample of our favorite content on popular streaming services:
- Lady Bird (2017). This poignant coming-of-age story follows Christine "Lady Bird" McPherson (Saoirse Ronan), who dreams of attending college in a big city far from her Sacramento roots. Available on Amazon Prime.
- Spiderman: Into the Spider-Verse (2018). One of the best superhero movies of the decade, this animated film immerses viewers in a vivid, inventive world of alternate-dimension Spider-Men. Available on Netflix.
- Schitt’s Creek (2015-Present). When the wealthy Rose family loses their money, they move into a run-down motel and learn to live with each other for the first time. Beautiful character arcs and zany humor make this Canadian sitcom unforgettable. Available on Netflix.
- Stranger Things (2016-Present). If you haven’t yet been sucked into the Upside Down, it’s time to start. You’ll never look at Christmas lights the same way. Available on Netflix.
Challenge 5: Read A Poem. Bonus Points: If You’re Inspired to Write One Yourself.
When you just can’t stand winter anymore, dip into this Mary Oliver poem and rekindle your sense of wonder at the soft-falling snow. Or read this e.e. cummings poem and remember why you love the ocean, at any time of year.
Challenge 4: Write a Letter. Bonus Points: If You Can Get an Owl to Deliver It for You.
It’s freezing outside, you’ve binge-watched all our suggestions, you wrote a poem on a napkin, and the ferns no longer want to help you with your math homework. To top it off, you’re missing your friends and family back home. Get out a pen and write them a letter. Your loved ones will be ecstatic to get snail-mail, and they’ll probably write you back. Win-win.
Challenge 3: Talk to a Stranger at a Campus Event. Bonus Points: If They Become Your Friend.
Holiday parties may be over, but your campus activities center is still thriving. This month, attend an event with the goal of talking to at least one person you haven’t met before. If you feel nervous, try these conversation tips:
- Ask questions, and actively listen to the answers. Instead of worrying about whether people like you, “focus on making another person feel special and interesting,” says this Forbes article.
- As this Psychology Today article puts it, people will feel more comfortable answering your questions if you also share information about yourself. The article gives this example: “I love blues folk music like this. I like it in the background when I'm working as well as to listen to. What kinds of music do you like?”
- Practice confident, approachable body language: Make eye contact, straighten your posture, smile, and keep your arms in a welcoming position (at your sides, rather than crossed at your chest), suggests this New York Times article.
- Keep working the room. Even if you don’t hit it off with the first person you talk to, that’s okay! Your new friend is out there.
Challenge 2: Explore Your City. Bonus Points: If You Go Somewhere New.
Whether you’re attending school close to home or miles from where you grew up, you can always find more to explore near campus. If you live near USF, you can enjoy the ultimate Florida winter:
- Get some hot chocolate from one of many downtown cafes and sit on the seawall of St. Petersburg’s Vinoy Park, where dolphins often come to greet onlookers.
- Build a snowman on the sugar-white sand of Clearwater Beach, voted best in the nation.
- Meet sea creatures up-close at the Mote Marine Laboratory and Aquarium.
With this much year-round sunshine, there’s no excuse not to explore the Gulf Coast region.
Challenge 1: Do An Activity Inspired By Hygge. Bonus Points: If You Correctly Pronounced That Word.
Get into the cozy spirit by practicing the art of hygge (say it with me: “hoo-guh”). You can learn about the Danish concept in The Little Book of Hygge by Meik Wiking, CEO of the Happiness Research Institute. “Hygge is about an atmosphere and an experience, rather than about things,” Wiking writes. “It is about being with the people we love. A feeling of home. A feeling that we are safe, that we are shielded from the world and allow ourselves to let our guard down.”
Because hygge encourages you to appreciate the simple things in life, it’s a great way to treat yourself without spending a lot of money. Try some of these activities:
- Redecorate your dorm for maximum coziness. Candles are key to hygge, but may not be allowed in your residence hall. Instead, you can use soft lamps; “the lower the temperature of the light, the more hygge,” according to Wiking. A budget-friendly option: Place battery-powered string lights in a repurposed Mason jar.
- Read a book in your favorite pair of sweatpants. (When your roommate asks you why you are wearing sweatpants yet again, explain it is part of your new life philosophy and that your pants must now be referred to as Hyggebukser.)
- Invite friends over to play board games or bake cookies. As this New Yorker article says, “It’s possible to hygge alone, wrapped in a flannel blanket with a cup of tea, but the true expression of hygge is joining with loved ones in a relaxed and intimate atmosphere.”
Whether you’re into hockey or hygge, there’s plenty of fun winter activities for college students – you just have to know where to look. If you’re a USF student, check out the Center for Student Involvement for more activities. If you’re not yet a student, but want to learn more about becoming a Bull, the USF Office of Admissions is always ready to answer your questions. Contact us online or by phone: 813-974-3350.
About Emily Young
Emily Young is a freelance writer and editor based on the gulf coast of Florida. A proud USF alumna, she cares about connecting readers to resources and helping students find success.