As backpacks, shoulders, and eyelids start to sag during this season so fraught with midterms, only one thing sustains Hillsdale students and I’m sorry to tell you it’s not our love of the liberal arts. It’s fall break.
The 96-hour vacation promises a retreat enjoyed alongside family or friends and with it, all the time anyone could ever need to catch up on unfinished readings or start the papers that will soon rule our every hour. Familiar faces, fresh food, focused study time — all the makings of fall break bliss.
But it’s all a lie. Don’t go home for fall break. Don’t catch a train to auntie’s for a long weekend of fluffy, homemade waffles and Full House marathons. Don’t drive to your roommate’s house a few hours down I-94
Instead, stay here. You’ll tear through those pages you haven’t read or written; you’ll have a chance to explore Hillsdale and you’ll burst through the doors of the Grewcock Student Union the following Monday morning rested, refreshed, and prepared.
Here’s the problem with fall break: it’s too short. In a perfect world, you’d dump your laundry into a trash bag and kick your backpack under your desk, before you grab the keys and head for home. Or for the airport. But this moment in the semester may trump finals week.
Look at your planner (or, if you’re not put together like me, your ink-smeared hand and collection of crumpled sticky notes). You’ve sprinted from one midterm to another, hurdled over essays and projects. And your syllabi promise only more. Plus, you’ve got 10,000 performances to attend, 80 clubs to run, and 45 dates to woo. You’re behind, I’m behind — it’s kind of a disaster.
Four days at home will fix none of this. The temptations of home will clash with your study schedule even more than a typical weekend at school. Forget about SAB events, dorm parties, concerts, dances, dinners, games. If you swap that craziness for a soft bed, a stocked fridge, and a new season of Stranger Things, leisure will take over and you’ll never get anything done.
A fall break weekend at Hillsdale won’t compete with your studies like every other weekend. The quiet of smalltown life will speed your studies and clear your schedule so you can experience Michigan in its autumnal glory.
Senior Gionna Eden hung back in Hillsdale for fall break last year and skipped an expensive and short-lived trip back to Kansas City.
“We don’t get much time to be in Hillsdale without classes and homework taking up most of our time, so staying for fall break is a really refreshing change,” Eden said. “It’s also a really great chance to pack a whole bunch of quality friend time into just a couple days.”
She has planned another Hillsdale fall break for this year.
A staycation in the Dale doesn’t limit you to the six square miles we know and love, however. That’s the beauty of a day trip. If you’ve got a sweet ride, or even a rusty jalopy, clunk on over to a nearby city and try a new restaurant.
If Hillsdale’s handful of eateries have you satisfied, then go and explore an art museum. I recommend the Detroit Institute of Arts, where you can see works by Claude Monet and Diego Rivera for an $8 student ticket (bring your ID) and an hour-and-a-half drive. For the nature nerds out there, Lake Michigan is freezing this time of year, but it’s always pretty to look at, especially from the shores of South Haven, which is two hours away.
Fall break without a car can still work, though. Hayden Park, Baw Beese, Stock’s Park, and Louis Emery Park offer plenty of spots for picnic blankets, hammocks, bonfires pits, and other fall activities Instagram is always telling us to do.
If the clouds decide to wring themselves out, movie marathons with films borrowed from the library will spare your wallet but seize your attention. A walk from campus to Kroger will get you all the ingredients you need to make an apple pie, the only dessert worthy of following a big bowl of chili.
Tell your friends to cancel their fall break plans. Consider my advice, peruse Yelp, and plan a fun weekend.
But if you stay and only do one thing, I implore you this: go for a walk or a drive around 5:45 p.m., and try to hit some of the backroads. Loop around back Hayden park or speed out past Hillsdale Hospital. This time of year is beautiful but fleeting. Don’t miss out on our final few golden hours.
Katherine Scheu is a senior studying French.