By Greta Hallberg, For The Miami Student
Last weekend was amazing. I flew out to Denver with a friend to visit my brother. We went hiking twice. We explored the city. We shopped. We met my brother's friends. We ate a lot of Tex Mex. Our adventure in Colorado was a win.
My brother's friends asked us what the occasion was for visiting. We explained that it was our "fall break," so we decided to come out to Colorado for the weekend.
But that's just it. Fall break is just a normal weekend. There is not actually a break involved with "fall break."
I do not have class on Fridays anyway, so the day off is nothing new. Every weekend is a three-day weekend, not only for me, but also for a lot of students on campus.
Fall break is an excuse to travel with friends or go home. The campus quiets down and the lines for the bars are shorter than usual. But, by any other standard, it's a normal weekend.
Well, a normal weekend that probably involved binge drinking somewhere that isn't Oxford. Snapchat and Instagram revealed Miami students partying in Columbus, Nashville, Las Vegas and Chicago. Undoubtedly fun, but not a relaxing weekend away from destroying your liver and stressing out for the week ahead on Sunday. The only real difference is the travel time.
Miami calls our long weekend "Mid-Term Break." Our long-weekend-that's-actually-just-a-regular-weekend might be in the middle of our semester, but it is not any sort of academic reprieve. Students know it is hardly a vacation from exams. The workload for "fall break" is the same as any other weekend.
We also don't have a set week for midterm exams, so it isn't fair to call it a "Mid-Term Break." By next week, I will have taken one midterm a week for a month. My exams and assignments are spread out throughout the semester. It sounds nice, but when you're given a set "break" by the school's schedule, you kind of expect it to actually be a break from, well, school.
I took an economics midterm on Monday morning. This is the same Monday that I took a redeye flight home and landed in Cincinnati at 5 a.m. Sure, it's my fault for scheduling a late-night departure, but I'm also a poor college student trying to save money. Convenient flights are expensive. Regardless, I was hardly in the best mental state to take an exam that counts for a significant part of my grade.
Compared to some of my friends, my week is easy. They have Monday exams, presentations and group projects all due the week after our "break."
The best part of last weekend was our morning hike on Sunday. We spent a few hours with our phones in airplane mode, solely for pictures. We got to sit on the top of a mountain and see the world stretch out for miles. We had no obligations or schedule. We had nothing to do but walk.
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Everybody needs that kind of pause from the world and responsibilities once in awhile. Simply existing, instead of always doing, is the best way to recharge.
Taking that kind of a break is difficult to do with the threat of an imminent exam or paper looming over your head. I had a peaceful moment. But as soon as I got back from the hike I hit the books.
If you're going to call a long weekend that isn't actually longer than any other weekend a break, give us an actual break. Give us time to disconnect from our inboxes and textbooks. Give us the time to relax and recharge without worry for the week ahead. Because with a Monday exam right after a "break," what is the point?