Many college and university campuses are or will soon experience this phenomenon called “Spring Break”. We ask ourselves what is this all about and what is it? Spring break comes every year during the month of March or April. It is a one week period during the semester (about 8 weeks after the semester begins) that students are given time to engage in fun, revelry, service, contemplation, work, etc… During this period of spring break, I am contemplating several things: weather, purpose, & summer.
Let’s begin with the weather. In the Midwest and Northeast, spring does not arrive early! So, spring break evokes sunny and long beautiful days, flowers blooming and a peek at warmer weather. In Michigan, as I sit to write this blog, the weather is about 25 degrees F, overcast and dreary. The weatherman did not forecast any temperature above 30 degrees in the upcoming week in Michigan. My spring break will consist of warming the car in the morning, checking for ice on the road, and wearing my coat! However, a new industry has evolved where some students, staff and faculty will enjoy themselves on the sunny beaches of Florida, Mexico or even the Caribbean. For those of us still in the tundra, we will enjoy a balmy 35 degrees (maybe).
This brings me to my next thought: why have a spring break? I know, I will have lots of haters and interlopers but what is the purpose of this week? Many students see this break as a time to get together with like minded peers to enjoy a week free of assignments and responsibilities. It is a sort of escapism. This week has become so commercialized and costly: flights, hotels, party, tanning, drinking… Remember, in the age of technology: “what goes on in Vegas, Does NOT stay in Vegas”. If you are one of the many that will travel outside of the US, the U.S. Department of State has established and maintained communication for traveling outside of the USA: http://www.state.gov/travel/
Some will take this time to engage in service to their communities for a good cause. To have an opportunity to give fully of yourself to an experience can be difficult but very rewarding. The result is intense, exhausting, and life changing. At times your contribution is apparent before departure. You can see engaged students and sites at: http://asb.msu.edu/
All of these “good” deeds should make one think and reflect on life goals, and next steps. Many are also engaged at this time in self-assessment and self-improvement. I can concur at this age, self assessment and thinking about “next steps” can be problematic and downright ugly; but must be done. Thinking about the “big picture” and this thing called “life” is invigorating and can renew a drive to reach set goals. (Keep in mind: that in order to reach a goal, you must first write it down… That’s another story).
Some are just working to make ends meet. If that is the case, self evaluation and assessment is needed. Is work an obstruction or hindering your progress? How will you overcome this challenge? Deep thinking and unfettered resolve through it all. True spring is around the corner.
Spring break makes me think of summer. I understand that it is several months away, but planning starts now. In an academic setting, we are always operating a semester/season ahead. My mind is geared toward summer classes, Orientation, and possibly a “true” break. So, spring break is evaluation, revision and planning time.
So, where does that leave us: student, staff and faculty still on campus? Well, I’ll tell you: research, degree certification, emails, class preparation, end of the year programming, and so on…. It is just another week with little (I hope) interruptions and no meetings. J
No matter which you choose/have to do; be safe, have fun and have lots of stories to tell.