When classes are no longer the deciding factor as to when winter break begins, things become a lot more ambiguous. As such, having to decide for myself when to take a break from lab to visit family and/or go on vacation has been exceedingly stressful for me this year. It’s even more so because I don’t celebrate Christmas, so I don’t have any particular dates that I need to be with family this winter.
Last year, my rotation ended on a Friday, my last assignment was due the following Tuesday, and then I was free from obligations until the first Monday after the new year. This year, classes have ended, my last assignment is due tomorrow, and then…I can (and should, to an extent) stay in lab except for however much time I decide to spend out of town. In my case, the determination of how much time that is is up to me as my PI is flexible- within reason- about how much time and when everyone in the lab takes time off for the holidays.
I wish it were more straightforward. I want to go on vacation (and not just to my parents’ house), but besides the fact that vacations during the holidays are so, so costly, I don’t want to seem like I am taking advantage of my PI’s flexibility and generosity, and I know that the longer I’m away, the more stressful my first week back is going to be with all the things I will want to do in the lab. And yet I know that I need a break, a refresher, so that I can be productive come 2015. Many of my friends from far away (both in the States and international) planned their trips home long ago, and that makes sense as they don’t see their families throughout the year. Even some of my friends from closer are excited to go home to see their families for Christmas.
I, on the other hand, took an extended vacation with my family back in August, was just home for Thanksgiving, saw my family about monthly throughout the year, and really don’t have a desire to spend the entirety of the weeks of Christmas and New Year’s back in New Jersey. I could have planned to go away earlier in the month (when flight and hotel prices are cheaper), but there are a few meetings at which I feel obligated to be in attendance; and along the same vein, I have such trouble planning for things too far in advance for fear that something will come up that I feel pressure to attend. So for this year, at least, that’s now out of the question.
All I have decided for now is that I’ll be in New Jersey from December 20-22, for a holiday party on the 20th, family Hanukkah on the 21st, and my birthday on the 22nd. After that, who knows…any suggestions?