Breaking your routine | Writer’s Cut

I love planning. No, really – nothing makes me feel more accomplished, more safe, than the feeling of having my schedule completely filled out, so that I know what to do every hour of every day. Does that make me a bit of a control freak? Yes, it probably does.

Now if all of that is true, you might be confused as to why you’re reading an article on taking a break from your planned routine. Well, just stick with me here.

The weeks leading up to college move-in were grueling for me. Though I suppose it’s not uncommon for upcoming freshmen to be worried about this new chapter of their lives (some will show it more than others), I was utterly terrified. I was moving halfway across the country (22 hours by car to be exact) to a school that none of my friends had even heard of, and to make matters even worse, move-in day was going to be the very first time I set foot on campus. Although I had been away from home for significant periods of time before, nothing was never quite as permanent as this move.

After unpacking and setting up my room, it was almost as if someone had pressed a “GO” button on my life. Throughout orientation, I was only in my room when I needed sleep, and it’s safe to say that this pattern continued well into the beginning of that semester. Now before you jump to conclusions here – no, I was not out partying every night, and no, I was not trying to drink away my worries. Instead, I began to fall in a strict routine of school, work, and friends that I helped myself to and upheld to a T. I had found my own way to forget, my own way to not allow myself to stop for long enough to think about just how far out of my comfort zone I really was.

My routine engulfed me. I was so focused on always doing something that I didn’t even notice. For a solid three months, I was constantly doing, doing, and going. I did everything to establish RIT as my home and my environment, and I didn’t think twice about it. Unknowingly, keeping myself busy became my method of not allowing myself the time to feel homesick, to cope with how big of a life-change college was. I was always looking forward to my next assignment, club meeting, or dinner with new friends.  

The problem was that none of these things alone were inherently bad in nature. I was doing very well in school, I had a solid group of new friends, and I was involved in clubs. As far as I knew, this was the perfect execution of the perfect recipe of the perfect college experience. Sense the sarcasm yet?

I was so in love with the routine I created for myself that it became even more important than the individual tasks and events within it.

Then Thanksgiving week rolled around.

Everything around me was slowing down as professors and students looked forward to the promise of three blissful days off work with their friends and family. My world was not getting any slower though. I pushed on with my tight schedule and added even more tasks for myself. Soon enough, my brain was making plans faster than my body could even begin to complete them.

So, I crashed. Now, I know what you’re thinking, this must be the great climax that I have been building up to, and using the word “crash,” you will think I’m referring to some unfortunate car accident on my way home. Well, that’s just the thing, I didn’t get to go home and take that break, and that realization was precisely what brought me into a flood of tears.

Our bodies have a unique ability to tell us to stop and slow down. This was my body telling me precisely that. I spent the whole semester making myself so busy that I wouldn’t have time to internalize the huge life-change that college really is. I tried my very best to follow everything I had read about what makes a successful college student. Yet somehow, that wasn’t enough.

No self-help article could actually prepare me for the unique challenges that college had for me. As I sat down to write this, I realized that I, too, could never successfully address all the struggles a college student could face, but that’s just it. College will hit each individual person with a personalized set of challenges that can all be equally overwhelming and all feel equally isolating. So my advice here is simple.  

Take a break.

For me, that meant changing my environment by taking a trip to Highland Park and for just a day, being away from RIT. It meant allowing myself the headspace to process my new reality of life in college. Whatever taking a break means to you, do it. Get coffee at the cafe you have been meaning to visit or maybe just take a walk around campus to process and take in everything that is happening around you.

Facing your reality will work much better than trying to run from it.

Top 5 reasons to take RIT tunnels

RIT tunnels have developed quite the reputation over the years. One RIT user made a subreddit for our tunnel system stating, “They’re infamous, but I’ve never…seen one. As a commuter, do they: A) Serve a purpose for me, B) Are they accessible to me, C) Are they laughing at me from underground”.

Although the concept of tunnels laughing from underneath our campus is quite enjoyable, that seems just a bit far fetched. So instead, we’re here to help dissolve some of the mystery that surrounds the RIT tunnel system and give you practical tips as to why you should take the time to figure it out.

  1. Avoid inclement weather

Though this one might seem like a no-brainer, it turns out that snowisn’t the only weather pattern that RIT students need an escape from. Don’t get us wrong, the tunnels are great when there are three feet of snow on the ground and you don’t want to put on three layers of coats to get to Gracie’s. However, last year, we learned that wind can be just as powerful of an enemy as snow. When last March a windstorm hit Rochester with winds of almost 80 mph, wind tunnels really became a thing on campus. The gusts were so strong that the Quarter Mile had to be closed down between the SAU building and Eastman. So for those student who decided they didn’t want to walk to class halfway bent over due to wind resistance, the tunnels became a great escape.

  1. Protect yourself from HzV

Whether you are a HvZ human who needs asylum from the zombies and a way to get to class, or you are just a normal RIT human who want to hide from the madness that HvZ can become, the tunnels can become your best friends during each semester’s game. Taking the tunnels, you are much less likely to get impaled by a NERF dart or sock, especially if getting up for your 8 a.m. makes you look like zombie, but you don’t actually want to be mistaken for one in the game.

  1. Get your daily dose of nerd humor
Behind the Bricks Map

Let’s be honest, we go to a school where bad puns and nerdy jokes get you major brownie points. So if you’re lacking inspiration or if you just need a funny pick me up, the tunnels can be a great resource to you. In particular, the tunnel that runs between the Liberal Arts Hall and Gleason College of Engineering has some fantastic treasures and nuggets of sarcastic wisdom presented inthe form of clever math puns.

SUPER IMPORTANT SIDE NOTE: If you’re really confused as to how to find this glorious tunnel, check out the FMS website where they have maps of all three tunnel systems. And yes, there are THREE, you heard right, two tunnel systems on academic side and one on the dorm side. Despite RIT urban legends, we regret to inform you that a super secret passageway does not exist nor connect dorm and academic side tunnels. If anything, the existence of such clever graffiti sprinkled all throughout our tunnel system is a good reminder to look up from your screens, at least once in awhile, and appreciate the creativity of your peers.

  1. Learn about RIT clubs

You might be confused about why we list this as a reason to take the tunnels. Well, let’s say that you missed the annual RIT club fair during orientation, and now you are just so desperate for friends that you will join any club that is still taking members, but you’re overwhelmed and you don’t know where to start. The tradition of clubs painting murals in the dorm side tunnels began in 1980 and since then, numerous organizations have taken advantage of this PR method. The passageways are filled with countless murals and flyers, to the point that you will be overwhelmed with all your options, which in that case you might just be right back where you started. If you find a mural you like, make sure you take note of the club name and find them in the RIT Clubs website.

  1. Avoid the crowds on the Quarter Mile
RIT Quarter Mile

Sure, taking the tunnels might require you to be slightly more creative than if you resort to the straight path, Quarter Mile approach; however, you might just find that extra effort worth it. If you find a way to get to class using the tunnels, your journey will be a lot less boring and monotonous as you will not have to stare at the hoards of people on either side on you. Who knows, you might even find a new study nook in one of your tunnel adventures. Besides, if there is that one person whom you promised to text and you just never got around to it, it’s almost guaranteed that fate will have you bump into them on the Quarter Mile. So save yourself the awkwardness and take the tunnels instead.


If you want more information on route how-to’s and general tunnel spatial awareness, check out our Ultimate RIT tunnel guide.

To access the full size RIT Tunnel System maps, check out the Facilities Management Services website.