By the end of this week, there will only be seven days of classes left in the fall semester. Let that sink in for a moment. There’s only around three weeks until winter break, but there’s a catch—one of those weeks is actually fall break. This year, students get a week off, come back for a week of classes, then have a week of finals and go home. As if the end of the semester wasn’t already hectic enough, this bizarre gap between breaks is throwing some for a loop.
To be fair, there’s not a lot to be done about the short amount of time between breaks. Fall break coincides with Thanksgiving, which lands as late as it can this year on Nov. 28. Last year it fell on Nov. 22. Next year it will be on Nov. 27, going down a day each year until it reaches Nov. 23 and jumps back up to the 28th. So it’s not just this year that students and faculty will have to deal with the break whiplash. Similar to this year, the 2020-2021 calendar has fall break from Nov. 25 to Nov. 29 with finals ending on Dec. 14. But just because it’s out of our control does not mean that students haven’t adapted to the schedule.
“Basically, because the break is so close to the end of the year, my parents did not see the point in me coming home. The plane tickets are expensive and it was actually easier for them to just come up for the break,” said senior Mika Costello. She also noted that with the break coming so close to finals, she has a fair amount of work to do and it might helpful to stay in Salem for fall break and focus rather than go home earlier for winter break.
Similar to Costello, junior Tara Hickman decided it wasn’t worth the cost to fly home when she would be going back again so soon.
“I decided not to leave for break since it costs around $200-$300 for me to go home. Instead, I’ve decided to stay here and work Monday to Wednesday and wait until winter break to go home. Two weeks between breaks didn’t seem worth it to go back home,” Hickman said.
However, she’s making the best of the situation: “I also know a fair amount of other people staying for part of if not all of break that I’ll spend some time with. We’ll also be hosting a Friendsgiving at my house so it makes up for not being able to see family,” she said.
Sophomore Min Wei is also staying in Salem, but not because she didn’t want to deal with travel. Wei lives in Salem, so she isn’t as affected by the short gap between breaks as some. But, she acknowledges that it does “feel a little odd” to be going on break, coming back and then shortly going back on another break.
First year Emma McEvoy understood that it is likely inconvenient for a lot of students to go home and is thankful she got her plane tickets far in advance to help with cost. Even if the time between fall and winter break is short, she’s thankful that she doesn’t have to wait for some down time.
“I’m actually really happy we get a full week for break because honestly I need a break and I don’t think I could’ve waited two more weeks. Also, Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday and not being able to go home would have made me so sad and I probably would’ve been even more upset,” she said.
Some people are more affected by the short gap than others, but there’s no doubt that the timing is a bit odd. Whether people are staying in Salem or traveling, the switch from vacation-mode back to school-mode back to vacation-mode is certainly cause for whiplash. While there isn’t an easy solution, or perhaps any solution at all considering that everything is calendar-based, one can’t help wishing there was a little more breathing room between breaks.