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A look at fall break (from those who stayed on campus)

Fall break. For most, those two words evoke images of relaxation, catching up on TV, sleeping, visiting family, leaving midterm essays until the last possible second, and sleeping some more. It is essentially a week-long nap mixed with a frantic bingeing of “Stranger Things” season two.


But for some, fall break just brings... more school. Many students — often those whose homes are across the country or overseas — remain on campus for the duration of fall break. This may be due to a simple matter of “logistical and economic efficiency,” as one international student said, citing “the large sums of cash” necessary to return home, as well as the “mental struggle” and “waste of time” that returning home would actually entail.

And for some students left on campus over the break, staying at school really does mean a more academically intense week. One student I interviewed, for instance, spoke of having scheduled four midterm exams throughout the week, and thus having a day-to-day experience that could be best summed up as “wake up, shower, eat, study, eat, study, sleep.” Another student said that he “would’ve worked less anywhere else,” despite a “lack of motivation.”

Meanwhile, an on-campus break is not without its small annoyances. Besides simply missing friends who left to visit family, the food situation seemed to be a common qualm among students. Only RoMa was open for meals, causing considerable irritation for those living in Forbes. Similarly, one student noted that those without unlimited meal plans had to pay for meals during the break. However, another student expressed satisfaction with the school’s efforts to accommodate its on-campus student population, saying “We still had meals, and I guess that's all I really expect from the school.”

But despite small grievances, an on-campus fall break is not without the cathartic relaxation of a more typical vacation. Sleep is certainly not inhibited — one student spoke of sleeping “for long periods of time, ranging from 12 to 17 hours a day.” Often, students will also take brief “mini-vacations” off-campus, such as trips to New York City or to a roommate’s nearby home, as another student did. On campus, one still has the opportunity to take time off, whether with other friends who stayed on campus or at the ease of solitude.

In fact, one student cited “the silence that settled over campus” as the best aspect of his fall break. Often, time off from school can be as simple as social down time, a respite from the hectic interpersonal sphere that Princeton offers. The same student spoke of how “it rained very hard one of the nights and it was quite nice to hear rain knocking on my window outside without the chaos of people interrupting it.” Sometimes, a bit of quiet, a bit of time with oneself, can be all one needs to return to the regular hustle-and-bustle of Princeton life with a rejuvenated vigor.