Two reflections on Spring Break
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    Spring break at home

    By Orko Manna

    “Where did you go for Spring Break?”

    The age-old question is asked time and time again when students return to school. And my answer isn’t the most exciting. I didn’t go on a tropical getaway to Cancun or PCB (spraaang break, amirite?!). I didn’t go to Europe. I didn’t go anywhere – I stayed in my house in Libertyville, Ill. But, hey – that’s just what I needed.

    I think staying at home for spring break is better than going on a vacation. Okay, okay – before you tell me that a sunny beach is more fun than freezing temperatures in late March, let me clear things up. I view spring break as a recuperation period, not as travel time. As we Northwestern students know all too well, Winter Quarter is the worst. Walking through the tundra that is Evanston between January and March is quite the struggle. And after dealing with tough classes and a slew of polar vortexes, I didn’t even want to think about exerting a lot of energy over my break.

    Staying home allows me to sleep, and there’s basically no exertion of energy required. I don’t get enough of sleep at NU – I average about 4 to 5 hours of sleep a night. But this Spring Break, I definitely compensated for that. I slept in every day. I didn’t hear the loud screech of my alarm clock and I welcomed the still silence. There was nowhere I needed to be and nothing I needed to do. The exact opposite would happen if I were on vacation. I would have to get up early to go sightseeing or to spend a long day at the beach. I don’t mind doing these things if I’m not sleep-deprived, but with Spring Break only being one week long, there’s not enough time to recover. I would be constantly busy during a Spring Break trip, that by the time it was over (which would be in the blink of an eye), I would be the same, tired person coming into spring quarter. I had a friend tell me all the places he went and how tired he was, and how he was not ready to return to school. I silently chuckled and rewarded myself with one of my mom’s famous, homemade brownies.

    And homemade food is another thing I can enjoy if I don’t go on a Spring Break trip. I don’t get home-cooked meals at NU and I wouldn’t have gotten them if I went on a vacation somewhere. I absolutely love food – especially my mom’s cooking. And after another quarter of eating the mystery food in the NU dining halls, just the thought of my mom’s mashed potatoes soothed my stomach. You can definitely get away from nuCuisine if you go on a spring break trip – but what would you replace it with? Restaurant and fast food? Fast food doesn’t even compare to the food my mom and dad prepare for me: chock-full of delicious, healthy flavors and their love (cue the ‘aww’). There’s something simply and uniquely magical about sitting in your kitchen, eagerly awaiting a fresh plate of food. And do you know what’s not magical? Food poisoning. Which is exactly what my friend got from a local restaurant on the first night of her trip to Mexico. Yeah, no thanks – I’d rather stay in good ol’ Libertyville eating the rice and chicken I trust.

    So, yes, going on a vacation can be fun, but it’s too tiring and filled with fatty/untrustworthy food – especially during a one-week spring break. Spring break should be a week to relax through rest and detox through home-cooked noms. And as school starts again, my vacation-loving pals may cry waterfalls eerily similar to the ones they saw in South America. I, on the other hand, am so ready to take on my classes and extracurricular activities. Spraang Quarter, my body is ready.

    A broken break system

    By Heather Budimulia

    Q: “When’s your spring break?”
    A: “Probably when no one else’s is.”  

    Of the many problems I foresaw with the quarter system, obscurely timed breaks struck me as the most troublesome. When comparing college schedules with my high school friends, I found our breaks would coincide maybe once in a blue moon.  

    As Winter Quarter dragged on, I realized that the dearth of three-day weekends heightened the importance of spring break as an opportunity to visit friends. Despite my misgivings about visiting a friend who was still on the school struggle bus but willing to take me in, I booked tickets to Boston. Looking back, my trip surpassed my expectations and changed my take on Northwestern's breaks. 

    One of the reasons I wanted to visit my friends was to see and experience what college was like for them. I wanted to see the lecture halls they text me from, meet the friends they talk about and eat the food they complain about. The less than authentic “college experience” over spring break would have made observing and understanding their lives impossible. 

    Furthermore, visiting while school was in session allowed me to take advantage of campus conveniences, like campus shuttles, dining halls and accommodation. Something I now realize I took for granted was actually being able to live in my friend’s dorm since some schools shut dorms down or limit visitors during breaks. Honestly speaking, the fact that the campus was fully running made my trip more feasible in terms of saving time and money. 

    Despite the benefits that the campus had to offer, visiting during school gave me more reason to get outside the campus bubble. As an international student with friends spread across America, it was important that visiting friends and getting acquainted with a different part of the country came hand in hand. 

    I was grateful to take Boston at my own pace, spending as much time as I pleased at bookstores and changing my itinerary on a whim. My days were easy to plan when I only had to consider my own time and interests. Not having a designated tour guide forced me to do my research and I’m sure she appreciated not having to take me to the tourist attractions she’s seen millions of times before. 

    As much as I loved the independence, I wanted to make sure that I wasn’t just treating my friend’s dorm like a hotel. However, while comparing our day-to-day plans, we found that our schedules dovetailed quite well, allowing us to have breakfast on campus and dinner in the city together most days. The possibilities were endless upon returning to campus since we could hang out with her friends or lock ourselves in the room to play cards and reminisce about high school days.  

    Having an amazing spring break despite it not lining up with anyone else’s made me think about every adversity that the quarter system has and will continue to throw our way. Sure, the quarter system means taking more midterms, undergoing the Hunger Games of course selection more frequently and spending more time trawling Amazon for used textbooks. 

    However, the important thing is that we always adapt to our situations. As our time at Northwestern goes on, it’ll only get easier to overcome the challenges and change our perspectives. By learning how to make the most of the system and having a positive outlook, we’ll be able to prevail over the intricacies and oddities of the quarter system we’re stuck in. 

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