Time for a break: Should you go home, stay in New York, or travel this spring break?

Some may argue that it’s premature to start talking about spring break—since, ya know, school only started three weeks ago—but I’m tired already and want some time off. In the absence of an actual break, however, I’ll have to deal with just planning one.

Spring break—a magically weeklong no-school period that’s either too short for faraway folks to go home or too long to stay cooped up in a dorm room. What’s a semi-broke college student to do?

For spring break, you have three options: go home, stay in New York, or do some travelling. All three will be a welcome retreat from the everyday grind of school, so you really can’t go wrong. However, some might be better tailored to your schedule than others. For each of these, here’s what you need to consider before making any definitive plans.


Being in New York makes it easy (and—depending on where you’re going—relatively affordable) to travel. You can purchase a bus or train ticket on the cheap (want to know the best place to buy ‘em? We’ll have an article for that soon) to any major city across the East Coast—Washington, D.C., Philadelphia, Boston, etc.

If you have the funds and the friends (I mean, you can travel alone if you want, but like most things in life, it’s generally more enjoyable and less awkward when you’re with a friend), you can also hop aboard a flight. JFK’s a big airport, so you can pretty much count on finding a direct flight to places in the Caribbean, Mexico, (recently) Cuba, Canada, or (if you’re feeling really adventurous) western Europe.

However, before you reserve your seats on a plane, train, or something synonymous with bus that also rhymes with plane and train, there is a handful of things you need to consider.

How far are you going, and how much time do you have? If you’re one of the unfortunate souls who has a class on Friday or an 8:40 on Monday, you’ll have to keep in mind what time you depart and come back. It’s not usually a huge deal if you miss a class or two, but it is if you’ve already been quite liberal about your attendance percentage. If you’re going to be flying or riding a couple hundred miles for some serious $$$, it might not be worth just a five- to seven-day vacation.

Additionally, you should also take into consideration what your family is expecting. Yes, yes, you’re adults now who file W-2s and make your own grown-up decisions, but if your family only gets to see you a couple times per year and has been expecting that you’ll make an appearance over spring break, they might be disappointed by your decision to make a detour around their town. But again, the decision’s yours at the end of the day.

Homeward bound...

Home to see your pupper, friends, and fam for a couple days of R&R. That is, unless, of course, you don’t have a mountain of homework for the weekend. If you have about a thousand pages of reading and ten problem sets to get through, a trip home is probably the most logical thing to do. (Let’s be real: You’re not going to do any HW in the Caribbean.)

I’m going to play devil’s advocate here, but on the other hand maybe you should wait a little bit before committing to the ’rents. Think about it: It’s uber-popular at Columbia to get a job, internship, research opportunity, etc. during the summer. Your friends are already talking about it, and you’re thinking of hopping on the bandwagon, too. That means that your summer will largely be spent working, not relaxing.

Sure, you’ll probably get your fair share of down time at home over spring break, but maybe you’ve been wanting to do some traveling for a while now and your school (and summer) schedule hasn’t permitted it yet. Spring break then might be the best (and only) time that you’ll get to do it. So if you have an inkling that you want to spend your time doing something more adventurous (either because you don’t think you’ll get the opportunity over the summer or because you just plain want to), maybe hold off on booking that flight home.

...vs. New York homebody

Ah, New York, home to the MoHi bubble. Most of us don’t really get to explore the city during the school year, which makes spring break a godsend. Maybe home is too far to spend much $$$ on a plane ticket. If that’s going to be the case, good thing you’re in New York, because it’s not like you’ll be stranded with nothing to do. (Need to some help finding things to keep you busy this spring break? We’ll have an article for that, too.)

However, if you’re thinking about forgoing the trip home altogether, I’d also encourage you to consider the possibility of maybe, idk, not staying in New York. If the issue about going home was too much $$$ for such a short period of time, maybe don’t get on a plane or anything. Like I said, bus and train tickets nowadays are relatively affordable. Sure, then you have to worry about finding a place to stay and other travel expenses, but after spending many months of this past school year in one city, it might be good for you to get out. Don’t commit to staying in your dorm room the whole week just yet—explore your possibilities.


You should travel if:

  • You want an adventure.
  • You don’t think you’ll have time in the summer to do it.
  • Home is too far away.

You shouldn’t travel if:

  • You have a mountain of homework.
  • Plane tickets are too expensive.
  • You’ve already promised the ’rents that you’ll be going home.

You should stay in New York if:

  • Home is too far away.
  • You genuinely want to explore the city without worrying about school.
  • You have a mountain of homework.

You shouldn’t stay in New York if:

  • You want a change of scenery.

You should go home if:

  • You have the time to do so.
  • You just want a low-key, relaxing vacation.
  • You have a lot of homework.
  • You want to see your fam and friends.

You shouldn’t go home if:

  • You’d rather do something more adventurous.
  • Home is too far away.

Long story short, you probably can’t go wrong with any of these options. No school means no school, and in my book, that’s a pretty good time no matter where you are.

What have you decided on for your spring break plans? Tell us on Facebook, Twitter, or Snapchat@CUSpectrum.

Veronica Grace Taleon is Spectrum’s editor and a Barnard sophomore. She made plans to go home for spring break to visit her one-eyed English bulldog. Reach her at veronica.taleon@columbiaspectator.


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