The midterms have been taken, the rivalry game has been played and the weather has taken a turn for the better — spring break is nearly here. Arriving just when students need it most, spring break is a week-long respite from the unremitting stress of class and commitments. Some use their vacation to travel to exotic locations, others as an opportunity to go home and catch up on some much-needed sleep and still others as a chance to stay on campus and get some work done. What sets this break apart from its first semester counterparts is the culture attached to it: Spring break is a cornerstone of the traditional college experience. Students across the country will doubtlessly use the brief liberation from responsibilities as an excuse to party the week away or at the very least cut loose and enjoy themselves — and Duke students are no exception.

“I think people need to do what they need to do,” sophomore Madelyn Winchester said. “By the time spring break rolls around, students are usually feeling super overwhelmed, so I'm not judging anyone for the way they choose to blow off some steam.” 

Winchester’s perspective seems to be shared by many students on campus: After being dragged through a spirit-crushing series of exams and assignments, students deserve to celebrate their freedom as they see fit. 

For some, this means staying on campus. While it feels like almost everyone has plans for the upcoming break, there is always a handful of students and faculty who decide to spend their holiday at Duke. These individuals usually choose to stay behind due to traveling expenses that can make a trip back home outrageously expensive or to stay on top of important projects and assignments. It might seem ill-advised to stay on campus when spring break should be a well-deserved recess from college life and the anxiety attached to it, but most students trust their peers to maintain their wellbeing over break.

First-year Rebecca Leggett said those who stay on campus won’t have any advantage over their vacationing peers.  

“I think it will be about the same,” Leggett said. “Both students who leave and stay will have gotten out of their usual routine. Getting back into the routine of classes, going to the library and office hours … will be harder for some than others, but probably more dependent on their personality.”

Staying on campus won’t be too lonely. Several events will still be offered, from neurobiology lectures to religious events to sports games, and a few dining options will stay open over spring break (although first-years will either have to stock up on food soon or dish out some food points to eat on West Campus, as Marketplace will be closed over the duration of spring break). Perhaps best of all, students on campus will be able to enjoy some peace and quiet, and explore aspects of Duke and its surrounding amenities that they don’t have time to check out when classes are in session.

For those who are leaving campus, spring break is a chance to have fun at home or on the road — sometimes both. 

“I will be going home the first weekend, and then I will be meeting with some friends in Miami,” Leggett said. “I’ve never been to Miami, so I’m excited to explore and hang out on the beach!”

Leaving campus does not necessarily entail the sort of opulent trips or parties that popular media presents as the quintessential spring break experience. Because of Duke’s relative affluence, it can sometimes feel as though a large majority of students have the means to travel and go on lavish vacations, especially to students who cannot even afford to go home. There is such a pressure to have a certain kind of fun over break, to have an Instagram-worthy vacation, that those who can only afford to go home or stay at Duke might feel left out of this marketed “experience.”

However, the students at Duke seem to have successfully avoided buying into this idealistic sort of break. 

“I think a lot of students feel pressure to go somewhere ‘cool,’ which is silly,” Leggett said. “Students should just do what’s best for them and what will give them a relaxing, enjoyable break. Spring break is all about de-stressing and seeing friends and shouldn’t be about anything else.”

Winchester agreed: “Whether it's going home, going to the beach or visiting friends, if you're going to feel better prepared to be back at Duke afterward, then do your thing.”