Home for the holidays at last. As I've laid around sunbathing in the weak winter sunlight (hey, it's better than what we've been getting in Providence) my parents have been encouraging me to reflect on my year and my first semester - what I'd do again and what to avoid in 2013.

There's the usual and the highly individualized goals for me, but there were a few that I figured others could relate to as well. For instance, I'm going to try to be more engaged in my classes (and not be semi-catatonic during my 9 a.m.'s), try some new food (maybe Brown's "baked scrod" is the delicacy I've always been too afraid to try), and I'll certainly never try to fly out from the East Coast during a winter storm again.

OK that's a lie, since I'll try it every winter break, storm or no storm, but I'll stop expecting to make it out on my first try. This time, for instance, I made it all the way to the airport, through security and to my gate before I saw the big fat "canceled" status flashing next to my flight. As I sat in the airport dejectedly talking on the phone with my mom and dad, I realized I wasn't superconcerned with the fact that my flight was canceled - although I was mildly disappointed that I had no place to sleep that night.

What was really bugging me was how carefully I'd wasted the entire day before my flight. Here's how it went. Dorms closed at 9 in the morning the day after finals ended, along with basically every other building on campus.


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My flight wasn't until 7:15 at night.

So being the resourceful college student that I am, I carefully planned exactly how I was going to waste the 7.5 hours I figured I had between when I was kicked out of my room and when I needed to be at the airport. This involved several trips. First up was a jaunt to the airport at 9 in the morning with my friends so that I could check my broken-wheelie suitcase. Then a cab ride to the mall for several hours of last- minute Christmas shopping - before I realized that I only had my already overly fully carry-on bag with me.

That was followed by some sitting, coffee drinking and novel reading, followed by some more window shopping, until I remembered again that I really actually couldn't fit anything more into my bag. Eventually, I decided to see whatever movie happened to be playing at 1 in the afternoon and make my way back to campus, where my mom's friend was going to pick me up and take me back to the airport.

It was a beautiful plan, but it was all for naught. I ended right back up at the ticket line, waiting for someone to rebook me home while they incessantly announced my name over the loudspeaker telling me that they had my bag and would I come claim it please. Oops.

Finally, I was face to face with a badly shaven man wearing a sullen expression and tapping keys on his keyboard like they had personally offended him. After about 20 minutes of his tapping, I was about to ask him if he was rebooking my flight or playing pinball. Finally, he told me that the earliest I could get home was Christmas Day, three days hence.

And that is where my second tip comes into play: If you are at all capable, arranging some artful tears in your eyes and telling the man all you want to do is see your family again really helps. He either played pinball or tried to rebook me even harder, and eventually found me a flight out of Boston the next day, and upgraded me to first class to boot.

Since it was better than nothing and I'd never flown first class before, I took it, figuring that a place to sleep and a ride to Boston would magically work themselves out - which they did, in the form of my mom's friend, Judy. Which is another tip to all you potential college-goers out there: If you insist on moving all the way across the country like I did, try to move to a place where you know at least one awesome motherly person. Preferably with a car.

Riley Davis, a graduate of Vistamar School in El Segundo, is writing about her freshman year at Brown University in Providence, R.I. She can be reached at radriley@earthlink.net.