What Spring Break Means to Seniors
With the spring semester in full swing students have been cycling through assignments and exams since the end of January. While the fall semester is broken up by major holiday breaks, making the four months a bit more bearable, the second half of the academic year is more continuous in comparison. Other than the occasional weekend trips home, many students do not get a time off from Rutgers life. The one saving grace? Spring Break.
Timed half way through the semester, the week off from classes and responsibility is a much needed break for students stuck in a nonstop grind. I decided to sit down with two seniors, days away from leaving for their final spring break as college students, to discuss their vacation expectations. Both have agreed to meet with me again after their return and talk about how their trip went and what it means to them before graduating out into the real world.
Nicole Morello, 22, booked her trip to Cancun, Mexico almost as soon as she got back to campus in January. Her and three friends decided to make the trip to celebrate their last few months together before the year comes to a close. The city located at the tip of the Yucatan Peninsula has always been a hotspot for spring breakers and this year was no different.
When I asked why they chose Cancun, Nicole’s excitement was apparent, “We chose it for the obvious reasons: warm weather and beautiful beaches. What makes it really exciting, though, is the atmosphere. We have our small group of four staying together which is great because we’re all so close. But on top of that there’s so many people from Rutgers and other schools who will be down there at the same time.”
The social aspect of the vacation hotspot means the ability to join up with other Scarlet Knights while being able to interact with fellow college students from around the country. Nicole doesn’t mind planning a cliché itinerary for the week either. She says she wants to spend the days relaxed on the beach before going out for drinks and dancing when the sun goes down.
“Everyone does it for a reason, right? I grew up spending my summers at the beach, why not lay in the sand before winter is over, too?” The group plans to venture out on short excursions as well, time permitting. Snorkeling in the crystal blue water allows for more exciting views than the murkier Jersey Shore has to offer, while the resort they booked has various relaxing and exciting amenities available to guests.
After graduation Nicole will be starting a Human Resources job at a tech company in New Jersey. She says she is excited to start work, but beginning a career right on the tail of finishing school means she is just as stressed.
Choosing to do something a little unusual for her vacation, Lauren Kulik, 22, will be heading up to New Hampshire to spend the week. Lauren and three of her close friends will be driving to a house on Lake Winnipesaukee in eastern New Hampshire. Many students who choose to go away for spring break head south to a warmer climate, but the lake region is expected to be below freezing for the duration of the trip.
“It doesn’t bother me that it’s going to be cold. I’ve done the beach thing before, but I’m looking forward to a quiet week to decompress.” Lauren describes an unrelenting schedule of exams, deadlines, and graduate school applications that was exhausting just to recite. “Decompress. That’s all I want.” Although most, if not all the lake activities will be closed for the winter season, there are still a number of things she hopes to do while away. Hiking and snow tubing aren’t the usual spring break activities but Lauren and her friends are expecting snow, and lots of it, if the blizzard warning turns out to be true.
“I love Rutgers and being at school, but I’m looking forward to this trip the most compared to past years just due to the fact that I’ve never been this busy.” After taking the GRE in addition to five exams in the month leading up to this trip school hasn’t been easy on Lauren, a sentiment she says is shared by other seniors she speaks with. “We’re also looking forward to this trip because it’s one of the last times we can go away without nagging responsibilities. After this it’s grad school then work.” She ends with a smile, “We deserve this.”
A little over a week later the air of excitement and anticipation of vacation is replaced by a joyful mourning to be back at school. Class is back in session but the exciting memories of break accompany a refreshed student body. When I met again with Nicole she agreed it was tough waking up and going to class that morning. She was happy to say her trip went as planned, making it easier to come back to her responsibilities.
Many people see spring break as just a break from school, but Nicole sees it as more than that when she reflects on what has been the last one in a line of school vacations since first grade. “It was a nice send off for us before we go our separate ways at graduation; something we’ll be happy to look back on,” she tells me. “I start work at the beginning of June and I won’t get spring breaks and long vacations like that anymore, not unless I have enough free time and request them.”
My follow up with Lauren went similarly. Other than a power outage as the result of the blizzard, her trip went as well as you could ask for. The inclement weather meant some day trips had to be cancelled, but they kept warm and kept busy. Despite the unusual destination and spring break itinerary, she told me that she thinks a lot of students would benefit from a trip similar to the one she took with her friends.
“It was cheaper than flying somewhere far and it beats paying the higher prices charged in tourist locations.” Her friends all have different plans following graduation in May, some starting jobs or continuing to grad school like herself; that wasn’t a fact lost on her. Much like Nicole she told me, “It’s going to be tough starting a new chapter in my life, but I’m glad we did this because who knows when we can do it again?” When I asked her if that woeful feeling put a damper on the trip she responded, “I’m working this summer and start graduate school in the fall so it’ll just be back to the daily grind after this.” Her smile this time equally as genuine.