When you’re a junior in college, there’s no shortage of things to be stressed about. Midterms, finals, a summer internship, a summer grant, what classes you’ll take next quarter, which quarter you can graduate after, and what role you want to fill in your extracurricular the next year. And Northwestern is no exception, especially with an entire round of finals before spring break. As winter quarter wraps up, we go through a reading week and a finals week, finishing up a set of classes. At the same time, we’re applying for summer jobs, internships, and grants, and going to information sessions, career fairs, and mock interviews. Especially when you’re an upperclassman, the pressure to make career advances and land internships can be almost as overwhelming as academic pressures.
With all of these pressure and deadlines colliding, it can start to seem like if you don’t spend spring break studying for your MCAT, interviewing with corporations, writing a thesis, or visiting grad schools, you’re doing something wrong.
However, I’ve come to find decompressing, de-stressing, and sleeping for a solid week surrounded by family and friends can be just as productive as spending a week working on your career options. As a junior, spring quarter will be my 9th at Northwestern, and I honestly worry about becoming burned out. I am still applying for summer internships, jobs, and grants, but I’m finishing most of my applications before the quarter ends, and then I’m spending spring break at home.
I’ll be spending spring break with my family in Louisiana. I’ll play cards with my dad, hang out with my younger brother who just started being able to drive, watch Jimmy Fallon with my mom, and we’ll work on fixing up my uncle’s new house as a family. We’ll go to the Irish-Italian parade – a New Orleans St. Patrick’s Day tradition that’s the closest I can get to a real Mardi Gras parade while I’m in college. And then, my mom and I will drive over to Pensacola, Fla., and spend a couple of days at the beach reading, playing cards, and walking through the sand.
And I am ridiculously excited to wake up early and sit on a balcony out by the beach with my morning cup of coffee and a good book, watching for dolphins. In the midst of finals, Northwestern students can sometimes take the fact that we’ll never have spring break homework for granted, but when college life can be so hectic, I’m grateful to have a week free from required readings, research papers, and online chemistry homework. The fact that we can have restorative spring breaks centered around doing whatever makes us happy and taking care of ourselves is a quarter system perk I would encourage no one to take for granted.