Photo Courtesy of Alex Krowiak

Spring Break at BC: Service or Self-Care?

To care for others or to care for oneself? That seems to be the question on students’ minds when spring break rolls around each year. The meaning of spring break varies from person to person. However, at the end of the day, the purpose of spring break is to allow for some respite from the intense busy work that tends to peak in the middle of the second semester. Therefore, the process of deciding one’s spring break plans must center around how one wishes to spend this mental and emotional break from the busyness of school. With the return of students to campus after spring break, there is now an opportunity to reflect on some of the pros and cons to the different ways students choose to spend spring break.

Option 1: Staycation.

Some value spring break as a time to travel back home to visit family and friends. This is likely to turn into being glued to the same spot on the couch all week, cuddled up with your dog and partnered with a six or more season television series and unlimited snacks. This option is great for recharging the body from the lack of sleep and overworking that follows midterms the week prior. If close to Boston, spring break can also be a great chance to explore more of the city. In addition, some may find organizing plans for spring break to be too difficult or unobtainable, leaving a staycation as the most practical option. On the downside, it is easy to get bored quickly when home alone.  

Option 2: Destination Vacation

Others prefer a trip with friends to [insert Cabo, Florida, Punta Cana, Canada, etc.] which allows for questionably relaxing time with friends on the beach or at a popular tourist location. A destination vacation is a great way to get your mind off school and work. Also, given the weather in Boston during the winter, many seek to escape to paradise in order to soak up some sun. The con: destination vacations can be expensive and vacationers may end up not getting as much sleep and relaxation as planned. This can make the transition back to Boston weather and academics tougher than expected.

Option 3: Service Trip

Another popular option, especially at BC, is using spring break as an opportunity to venture out on a service trip. Here at BC, the popular spring break service trip program, the Appalachia Volunteers, attracts many students who want to travel to the Appalachian region and beyond to serve different communities and build relationships with other BC students. “I chose to sign up for Appa because I wanted to explore parts of the U.S. I hadn’t seen before and find a way to do service with others since the other clubs I had joined weren’t service-related,” says Claire Driscoll, MCAS ‘19. While this last option sounds intriguing, it is no doubt difficult, especially after a few busy weeks of second semester, to turn down a break from any commitment and hard work.

Here enters the dilemma: the choice between self-care or care for others. BC espouses the message of “women and men for others,” while students are also reminded of how important it is to take care of themselves. So how do people reach a decision on how to spend spring break? BC is unique in that this dilemma is held to a higher degree of importance compared to most other institutions. Nearly 500 students decided to venture to different regions of the country with Appa this spring break, and there was a waiting list. The idea of a service trip is not usually such a  popular phenomenon on college campuses, yet with the growing popularity of the Appa service trip and others, such as Jamaica Mustard Seed, this will likely continue to be a sought-after option for students.

But are students supposed to feel guilty for taking some time off from work, getting some extra sleep, and revitalizing? One could argue that this choice would lead to a more energized entrance back into the academic field. On the other hand, people returning from service trips may feel re-energized through the personal fulfillment of service to others. The point seems to be, in choosing a spring break trip, each student must consider what will offer them the best mental, physical, and emotional “break” from the busy, routine life at BC. In the end, this break will look different for each person.

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