Whether its waiting for class to begin, scooping ice cream in Sharples, or standing in the dorm bathroom with a toothbrush in your mouth, questions about fall break have been the go-to conversation starters for the past two weeks: what did you do? How was it?
For the sake of small talk (or a full two-minute tooth brushing), one may opt to leave it at “good” or “fine, thanks,” but it’s unsurprising that Swatties, with their various hometowns, hobbies, aspirations, and experiences can also provide a variety of responses.
When I asked the small sample of people around me what they did over fall break, many of them said that they returned home. Ashley Le ’19 celebrated her sister’s birthday by taking her family out to dinner. Gillie Tillson ’20 played pickleball, a game somehow involving a combination of ping-pong, tennis, and wiffle ball, with her extended family and friends. Other students visited friends at colleges and universities in states such as Connecticut, New York, and North Carolina. Many also remained on campus, where they enjoyed the leaves changing color, worked on senior projects, and competed in fall sports.
Multiple students mentioned indulging in the basic human activities of eating and sleeping. Le’s statement that she spent most of her fall break laying in bed received the most enthusiastic assent from others in the room. Several students lapsed into rhapsodic recollections of the quality or quantity of foods they consumed during break. Examples include a meal at a Mexican restaurant, the best ramen ever tasted, and Shake Shack, which John Fan ’19 emphasized as “really important” to him and his fall break experience.
Beyond rest, relaxation, and eating, students used fall break to study for the MCAT, go to dentist appointments, and recover from being sick at (or sick of) Swarthmore. Eleanor Naiman ’20 took advantage of break by returning to her home in Berkeley, California, where her father nervously taught her how to drive. Many students also mentioned papers, midterms, and other assignments and readings that were due during or after break. Some academic responsibilities were incredibly time consuming, while others were totally neglected.
Was fall break a vacation from, a continuation of, or the eye in the middle of Swarthmore’s academic hurricane? The circumstances differed for everyone. Even so, when asked about how satisfied they felt with their breaks, almost every student wished that it had been longer.
“The transition from fall break to working again was pretty tough,” said Fan.
Indeed, whether one did absolutely nothing over break or everything possible, each student is now back and busier than ever attending class and practice and eating those convenient Sharples rice cakes with Wow Butter. Your own fall break memories may have been average, legendary, or mostly dreams from the seventeen hours you slept each day; either way, welcome back to Swarthmore! It’s almost November, and Thanksgiving break is emerging on the horizon.