We’ve all done it: woken up some 15 (or 30) minutes too late, scrunched our eyes in exasperation at the steps of our morning routines that must now be skipped in order to make it to class on time. In high school, we were all guilty of it — exhaustion compounded after a particularly heavy week of assignments — and those extra minutes in bed felt like a worthy trade-off for having to eat your breakfast while walking out the door. But all of this changes when you get to college and are presented with exceptional freedom to control your own morning routine.
In my freshman year here at Hopkins, my sleep schedule was all over the place; some days I’d get way too little sleep, other days too much. I never felt truly rested. That — combined with the fact that I’d have to trek over to FFC — sorry, Hopkins Cafe — for breakfast meant that my mornings were an adrenaline-filled start to the day.
I found myself having a lot of difficulty switching between activities; I’d go to the gym after class and find myself stressing about homework on the treadmill, or staring at my dinner plate and contemplating a work project without taking a bite. I knew it wasn’t good for me, but multitasking throughout the day felt like an obligation more so than a choice. How else was I going to get everything done? There was no time to focus on just one task, application or meal.
As I entered my fifth semester of university, I realized how much my morning routine has changed throughout college — and how much better it makes me feel. However, this didn’t happen overnight. The first thing I consciously made an effort to change was my morning eating habits. We may not be exactly what we eat, but I know I will be hangry by 11:30 a.m. if I don’t eat before class. Nowadays, I always schedule time in the morning to make something I actually enjoy for breakfast, such as pão de queijo, one of my comfort foods from home.
Often, I’m joined by my roommates for breakfast, and spending that first half an hour chatting over the first meal of the day allows us to spend quality time together. Throughout the rest of each day, we have jobs, classes, extracurriculars and other commitments to worry about. But during breakfast, we have the time to show each other the recipes we found online the night before. Sometimes, breakfast will last only 15 minutes, like if one of us has an early morning meeting. Other times, we drag our morning meal into an hour-long affair, hesitant to put our dishes in the sink and re-enter our busy lives. Most recently, we’ve started eating breakfast outside to breathe in the fresh air and feel more awake.
Which brings me to my next point: getting out of the house. If you’re like me and have made your room too cozy to exist in, don’t fool yourself into thinking that you can study before or after class at home. I try to ease myself into the day by responding to emails or reading in Gilman. This helps me get started on the day’s tasks, as well as arrive at my class with several minutes to spare. Crucially, it switches up the rhythm of my day; instead of working later at night, once I’m already tired from classes and other responsibilities, I get a good portion of my to-do list checked off by the time lunch rolls around. Late-night panic has become far less common as a result of this habit.
Overall, the reason my days are much better is because I now have a routine that allows me to actually enjoy my mornings. Instead of a pattern of drowsiness and missed breakfasts, I spend more time with my friends and get organized for the day. That’s not to say becoming a morning person has solved all my problems. But it’s given me more time to address them, to call home if I need to talk to my family or even to bounce ideas off my friends about what my next article for The News-Letter should be about.
Julia Mendes Queiroz is a junior from Rio de Janeiro, Brazil studying Economics and International Studies. Her column reflects on change, new experiences and learning to make decisions for herself.