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What Are You Doing for Spring Break?

Next week, I won’t be living it up in Barcelona, enjoying the warm beach and a break from the Northeast winter, or hopping on a flight to anywhere historically, culturally, or even culinarily incredible. I won’t be having any particularly surreal experiences, nor will I have a ridiculous, crowd-pleasing, once-in-a-lifetime story to tell upon returning from spring break.

I’ll be going home. The most outlandish activity I’m likely to engage in is a nostalgia-filled day trip to a quiet town in western Massachusetts that holds special meaning for me.

But please, still ask me what I’m doing and where I’m going for spring break.

To me, a quiet vacation at home with the freedom to relax for a week in the middle of the semester is as refreshing and valuable as any international adventure. Among those of us who choose a more low-key week in early March, there is a common complaint that the question “So, what are you doing for spring break?” is accompanied by expectations of grandeur. On the contrary, I firmly believe that behind every question is a genuine desire to discover more about the person being asked, rather than an opportunity for bragging.

Whether the answer describes a momentous trip or a more humble home vacation, the details can paint a picture in a remarkably telling way. Ignoring any financial limitations for a moment, this exchange can serve as a kind of real-world icebreaker, as if one were to ask, “If you had one week to do anything you wanted, what would it be?”

You’d learn quite a bit about me and anyone else, I think, by asking such a question. In a five-minute exchange, my inquisitor would discover my appreciation for occasional solitude, the value I place on time spent at home, and, with a little more questioning, my love for the peacefulness of New England.

Of course, there is a monetary factor. Maybe the reason some of us choose to stay at home is an unwillingness—or inability—to spend a large sum of money. Even if this is a factor, it doesn’t merit an apologetic or disappointed answer. The adventurous spirit makes its own experiences, and such a spirit could find an entirely different set of values than I in spending a week at home.

Every possible destination, after all, is home to someone. What should keep us from finding adventure and new experiences in our own home rather than someone else’s?

As far as I can tell, the pressure to give a remarkable answer to this question is mostly self-inflicted. If one takes pride or expresses a personal excitement in whatever they have in store for next week, their answer won’t be disappointing to their conversation partner.

The opportunity for such an exchange should be used as an opportunity to discover what makes someone tick. Despite having what might be seen as a mundane “itinerary” for break, I genuinely enjoy both asking and answering this question. No matter the answer, one should be sure to express not only what he or she is doing next week, but why—and what does that say about you?

So, please, next time you see me on campus, ask away. I’ll be more than willing to tell you—but don’t expect to get away without putting some thought into your own answer.

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Just an aspiring physicist spewing opinionated orations in the hope that someone is listening. Known to ride bicycles sometimes.