5 Ways to enjoy the (campus) Staycation


Who isn’t excited to have a little time off? But often as graduate students we don’t have the option to bail on teaching and graduate responsibilities during breaks. Whether it’s because traveling is too expensive or have an approaching deadline for a project you will, on occasion, find yourself in town during a school break. Staying in town when the majority of the student body vacates can seem disheartening, but have no fear, here are five hidden ways to enjoy your campus staycation.

1) First, appreciate the silence. Ok maybe not complete silence, but the bustle of cars, buses and people everywhere tends to settle down during long breaks.

2) Remember that you’ll have a more flexible schedule. The demands of seminars, attending meetings and/or teaching courses are reduced (if not eliminated) thus allowing you to be more flexible with your days. Perhaps you can take the opportunity to sleep in or leave campus early.

3) Get out and explore the town! Our schedules are always jam packed, so we rarely have free time to explore. Go ahead and try a new restaurant. The wait times are usually non-existent during long breaks, so treat yourself to that new place you’ve been wanting to try. This is also a great time to catch a movie, go to the gym, library or other campus hotspots that can feel overpopulated during regular semester hours can be easier to manage during the breaks.

*FYI* Check operating hours as businesses may adjust times or close for repairs due to fewer patrons.

4) Resources are abundant, whether trying to use the campus printing, valuable office space, or the machines that always seem to be taken. It is highly unlikely you are the only one around, but there are far fewer people everywhere making it easier to access shared equipment.

5) Lastly, you are not alone. There are tons of other grad students in the same boat. Plan to meet up with people you don’t get to see regularly because of your busy schedules. So use the time to reconnect with old buddies or if you’re new to campus, use it as an opportunity to make new friends.

Fly With Me

Photo from prtl.uhcl.edu

Photo from prtl.uhcl.edu

Though it may seem like a tiny dot of light at the end of a long, paper lined tunnel, there opportunity to go on leisurely breaks throughout the semester do exist; particularly around major holidays, such as Thanksgiving, and the oh so festive Winter Break where one is expected to do nothing but visit with close family and/or friends, and gorge themselves shamelessly on seasonally appropriate goodies.  Continue reading

Spring Break?

So I just wanted to share with you a bit about different possibilities for Spring Break… In the past I’ve often insisted that, just like the undergraduates who I’m teaching//TA’ing, I’m going to take a few days away. More often than not, for me this meant that I was going to give my eyes a break from staring at a computer and, usually, to watch a ton of TV and movies and catch up with friends who I wasn’t able to chat with. Usually this routine would last longer than it should have: usually I’d hang out and lay low for about 5-6 days, instead of the “brief” break that I intended—3-4 days. Not so this year…

Instead, this “Spring Break” began with me at the library working on a conference paper/presentation at 830 AM on a lovely Saturday. BUMMER! This spring break I had to write up a paper (nearly from scratch) and prepare two different presentations using the same material. So, rather than spending my Spring Break hanging out, watching TV, and catching up with my people (who, for the most part, are no longer in Bloomington), I was at work every day by 9 AM—usually at the Wells Library, though I went to the Bakehouse a few days too (http://www.scholarsinn.com/bakehouse.html). I also LOVE Sweet Claire’s as a work spot, though their hours were slightly less conducive for me—over break, that is (http://www.sweetclaire.com/). So the paper got done on Saturday night (yuck) and I read it and edited Sunday till 4 and then sent it out. And I think it turned out fairly well—the first presentation sparked some, err, heated debates? The second presentation (totally different audience) was well-received and enjoyable across the board. So, all things told, it worked out well, even though I had no real Spring Break…

Moral of the story? It might be something like this: to and for me, balance is a great thing. A great, great, GREAT thing! I wish I would have had more work done for the conferences so that I could’ve had a few down days over Spring Break, though I also wish that I had been more consistent in plugging away on work in previous Spring Breaks. How about you folks? What’s your take: should graduate students enact their own Spring Breaks? Or should they get on the grind given a brief break from coursework?

A tale of three spring breaks …

On my first year as a PhD student, I took some time off for spring break and flew back home for 10 days. While it was great to see some of my family and friends, it turned out to be a bad idea. Not only, did I accumulate a ridiculous amount of work, (it took me about a month to catch up and get back on track), but I also manage to upset the rest of the people that I did not have time to visit. I learned that, it is better to go home once a year for 3 weeks than going twice for 7-10 days each.

During second year, I decided to treat spring break like any other week. Besides, the nuisance of planning around the campus shuttle limited schedule, spring break turn out to be much more productive than I expected. Comparing my experience against other grad students’ experiences it seems that what made my experience such a pleasant experience was the fact that my expectations, although ambitious, were not completely out of reach. I just put together the workload I expect to accomplish on a typical 2-3 week eriod into one week.

This year, I traveled to Seoul, South Korea as part of an IU-AGEP delegation. During the professional development tour, we had the opportunity to learn about their higher education system, share our research, meet with faculty and graduate students, and experience some of South Korea’s culture. It was a great trip!!

Spring Break or Vacation?

Deciding to spend spring break in Bloomington was a tough decision. I wasn’t sure what the campus would be like without students.  Did I want to go home? Well, going home would cost $350 in airfare alone, so that option was out.  There was a student affairs conference in Arizona, but I didn’t have $1000+ to make that trip happen.  I could stay in Bloomington to work and make money that I would have spent going somewhere – bingo!

After a lot of thought, I ended up staying in Bloomington and working.  This ended up being the best decision I could have made for myself.  Bloomington is AMAZING without students on campus.  I really took advantage of reminding myself why living here is so relaxing.  My friends and I hung out every day, the weather was beautiful, and we never had to wait long for food when we went out to eat.  While it would have been great to fly home, go to a conference or head to Florida, it was nice to experience life without school for a change in Bloomington.

Below is a picture of my friend, Caitlin and I celebrating St. Patty’s Day while watching the Indiana/VCU basketball game!


Spring Break in BLOOMington

Spring break is drawing to a close here in Bloomington. Yesterday a friend at work asked me, “If you could go on vacation anywhere right now, where would you go?” My automatic response was “Here!” Okay, and maybe Greece. But in all honesty, I’ve been enjoying the awesome weather we’re having here in Bloomington. Everything is blooming, and there’s really no reason to complain about staying put for spring break when your surroundings are this lovely.

For a lot of graduate students, spring break is a time to catch up on work. I’d say that most of us aren’t able to forget our responsibilities and run off to Cancun. But it’s also not all work and no play.  Aside from photographing flowers…

I’ve also been riding my bike, grilling out with friends, eating ice cream at the Chocolate Moose…

(photo from indianareview.blogspot.com)

…and enjoying the peaceful atmosphere that comes to Bloomington when a few thousand of its residents take off on vacation elsewhere.

Hope you had a great spring break, wherever you went!