Spring break. Just hearing those two words makes any student’s heart skip a beat. But one question that nobody tends to wonder about is how did spring break originate? In 1935, UR faculty authorized the first Spring Weekend with sports events, dances and other fun events. Parents of students were allowed to attend and there was a lot of excitement and activity. This was the first organized recreational weekend during the beginning of spring in the University’s history and today we have a number of such events all year long, including Parent’s Weekend, Meliora Weekend, Dandelion Day and Yellowjacket Day weekend.

Today, a number of universities and colleges, if not all, have a week off from classes, usually during one of the weeks in March because winters are long and everyone can use a break. The beginning of spring is an ideal time for students and professors to have an opportunity to relax and shake off the dreariness of winter before the last push of the academic year up to final exams the first two weeks of May.

But come back to the present. The days are numbering fewer as the long awaited time off approaches. The last month and a half has been a mixture of slowness, and at the same time, rapidity. As freshmen, Spring Break ’07 is the first of our college experience, and the excitement is high. It’s been a long month and a half as class loads have changed and become more challenging. There is so much we can do over break, whether it’s going away to somewhere warm in the Caribbean, for example, or just kicking back and enjoying time at home. Who can complain about that?

However, this spring break may seem somewhat daunting precisely because it’s the first of our college experience. With so many options, is there something that we are supposed to do? Go away with people from college to make stronger friendships? Spend time with family that we haven’t seen in almost two months? See high school friends and catch up on old times?

For many of us as freshmen, this is our first time away from home for such an extended period of time. If we’re the oldest, as I am in my family, it means that our parents or guardians are dealing with a son or daughter out of the house for the first time. But regardless of whether you’re the oldest child or not, and even though we are nearly three quarters through the school year already, should we feel inclined to go home? For each freshman, that question has its own answer. Some might say “yes,” some might say “no,” and others might find a way to combine time with family and with friends. The truth is that the stereotypical view of spring break, with the beaches and partying all night long, is not the reality for many, nor is it necessarily what they’re looking for.

Many freshmen, including myself, are going their own routes this break. My roommate, Ryan, is going home to spend the week with friends and family. Katelyn Patterson is spending the week with her boyfriend and meeting his family for the first time. For me, spring break is a chance to spend time with my family – we’re going to Florida. But I’m also going to spend the two weekends with my friends who are also home. Other students are choosing to reach out to others during the week off, through the Alternative Spring Break program. This program is essentially an opportunity for students from UR to help those in need. This year, the program’s participants are going down south to help victims of Hurricane Katrina; there is still so much to be done down there and people can always use a helping hand.

So whether you are rubbing on sunscreen and relaxing on a beach, eating home-cooked meals and spending time with family, partying with friends or strapping on gloves and work boots to do community service, spring break is a week off to do what you want to do. As freshmen, part of the college experience is about making our own decisions and being independent – while this isn’t one of the biggest decisions of our lives, it is a decision to make nonetheless. There are so many options out there for us to take advantage of, and the goal is to find which opportunity fits your desires. At the end of the day, spring break is not about where you go or whom you go with; it is about having time off from classes and enjoying whatever it is you choose to do.

Siegel is a member of the class of 2010.

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