Staying around campus for the holiday breaks


Austin Yattoni

Foellinger Auditorium in the snow on Dec. 4. While living in the Midwest, it’s important to know what is appropriate to wear during which season, writes brand manager Brooke.

By Jess Peterson, buzz editor

A standard academic year at the University of Illinois covers a lot of ground, seasonally speaking that is. Students arrive to campus in the sweltering central Illinois heat, some with the dismay of encountering true Midwestern humidity without any air conditioning. This is an excellent time to bond with fellow dorm mates who huddle in communal areas because it is the only location in the hall with any supply of cool air.

Then, the leaves will paint themselves red, yellow and orange, transforming the Main Quad into a place straight out of a painting. There’s the crisp breeze and only a need for a light jacket when outside studying, tailgating for football games or posing for pictures with pumpkins at a nearby farm.

The winter isn’t shy with snow, sleet or withholding sunshine, but students trudge to classes nonetheless. Packing the right boots and parkas is crucial for this season. But even when it seems like the cold will never end, May rolls around. The month brings flowers, rain and final exams, a gentle yet glorious exit to yet another school year.

But what do you do when class isn’t in session? If you’re coming to the University from halfway across the world, or just a neighboring country, the breaks and off-days during these seasons may not offer enough time for a trip back to your home to be worth the distance traveled.

Although not seeing family and friends during time off can sting at first, because students from Illinois or the U.S. in general will be doing so, being “stuck” in Illinois doesn’t necessarily have to be a bad thing!

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During the school year there are three vacation periods, one in fall, winter and spring. Thanksgiving break, which begins on November 18 this year, lasts a week. If you’re an international student, you probably aren’t going to purchase a plane ticket to be in your hometown for just a few days, and unlike the majority of your peers, will not be celebrating the week with football viewing, extended family get-togethers and far too much turkey. But who’s to say you are excluded from this experience entirely?

By befriending a roommate, classmate or essentially anyone with family within driving distance, there opens the opportunity for you to join in on the yearly festivities. What better way to immerse yourself in American culture than to travel with a friend and see what the Thanksgiving break holds for someone who grew up in this country?

If you are hesitant for this sort of experience, you can also use this time to travel. New York City throws a killer parade on Thanksgiving Day, but Chicago, the urban highlight of Illinois about three hours from campus, also offers shopping, dining and sightseeing opportunities.

Maybe you don’t mind staying on campus for the whole week, and in that case, you can stay in a hotel, Airbnb or a friend’s apartment who will also be around. This mostly applies to you if you are living in any residence halls, which will be closed for the week-long break.

The same sort of strategies apply for winter break, an entire month to step away from studies. This segment of time off commences with the end of first semester finals, sometime around December 21, depending on how your schedule pans out. Again, staying with friends in the area, taking the time to travel throughout America solo or with those who also aren’t trekking home for a month are both ways to enjoy your time.

Drink hot chocolate, play in the snow and don’t think about the results of the finals you have just finished and spent countless nights studying for. The most important part of these breaks is to take time for yourself, allow for rest, relaxation and most importantly, fun. If you are someone who gets homesick (like me) Skyping your family and friends, or using FaceTime as you explore wherever you end up for the month definitely can’t replace the feeling of actually being with the people you love, but it sure does help.

Lastly, there’s spring break. A week in March that presents itself as time to tan on a beach you’ve never been to before, or just laying out on the Main Quad with a glass of lemonade nearby. Again, I want to emphasize that you should follow through with the plans that are most beneficial for you.

Even if your vacation time during the school year doesn’t look like what everyone else is doing, that doesn’t mean you can’t find ways to enjoy it. Trust your gut, look after yourself and don’t be afraid to try new things.

Jess is a junior in Media.
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