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Spring fake

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Ah yes, spring break, that time of year when we all hop on a jet to West Palm Beach, Florida, get drunk, get high, hook up with people we hardly know, and party non-stop for two weeks straight.

Well, if that’s what spring break is, then apparently we’re all doing it wrong.

Can anyone here at UFV (or any college or university for that matter) truthfully say that their spring break bears any resemblance to the image peddled by Hollywood? Perhaps a few, but I suspect these people are a distinct minority. For the rest of us, we have reading week.

We often use the terms reading week and spring break interchangeably, but I would argue that comparing the two is like comparing apples and oranges. UFV’s official name for this period is spot on. In the first place, our “spring break” is not actually in the spring. There will be no frolicking on the beach for us, unless you can actually afford the plane fare to Florida. Second, it is only one week long the traditional length of spring break is two weeks. I recall it used to be in B.C. schools, but they cut it down some years ago. Lastly, the “reading” part; we are actually expected to get some work done on our time off. Reading break is the time when we have a moment to catch up on work and chores before our workload begins piling up again. All this is a far cry from the lighthearted debauchery shown in movies and TV. Perhaps I’m a bit biased, since I don’t really care for the whole party scene. Still, I believe in letting you do you; I’m just skeptical you can do that, even if you want to.

I’m honestly curious about where the trope of spring break, as depicted in popular media, came from. Perhaps it is a product of a different era, back when the typical college student was not as strapped for time and cash, when they could literally afford to let their hair down, and throw responsibility to the wind for a while. Perhaps spring break is a uniquely American phenomenon. After all, there are a lot of aspects of American university life that just aren’t present here in Canada, like sororities and fraternities, the obsession with college football, and referring to all post-secondary institutions as “college” indiscriminately. Maybe the spring break phenomenon simply isn’t a thing outside the U.S. It is also possible that the Hollywood version of spring break was never very realistic, and reflected what only a small subset of students ever experienced.

At times I feel like I’m missing out on the fun. Most of my reading break was spent at home relaxing, getting caught up on things, and playing video games (which most of the time, I don’t have time for); but you know what, that’s fine, that’s exactly what this vacation period is for. The point is, you are given a breather, and you come back to class refreshed. Wild beach parties might not be my idea of fun, but even if they were, I would rather not come back worn out, and with a pile of work waiting for me that is no smaller than it was before. We are definitely getting short-changed in terms of length, though. I would much rather have two weeks off, either both in spring, or one each in spring and fall. I may not have gotten spring break, but I did get reading week, and that’s good enough for me.

Image: radio1interactive/Flickr

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