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Spring Break Trips Take On A Different Meaning

Heights Staff

Published: Sunday, February 21, 2010

Updated: Wednesday, January 9, 2013 19:01

In the dark hallows of a Boston College residence hall, off-campus houses, and apartment, students have been gathering for months to discuss what is arguably the greatest part of second semester: spring break. Every year, friends flock together to decide where they will be spending their week of pure freedom. Will it be Jamaica? The Bahamas? Usually the destinations that dominate are the islands with the best beaches for the cheapest price. For those that decide to not embark on an island getaway, there are the Appalachia trips, sports spring training, and, always a favorite, home. However, what about the students who do not opt for the stereotypical spring break of tanning on the beach all day, or the students who do not decide to participate in a service trip? What about the kids who do not want to go home because enough time has not passed since the last time they saw their parents? With budget travel all the rage this year, there are some interesting spring break destinations that do not quite fit the typical mold.

Every year, different Web sites and organizations create the top-10 lists of hotspot destinations for college students' spring break. According to StudentTravel.com, the number one destination for 2010 is Cancun. Also topping the list are Puerto Vallarta, South Beach, and interestingly enough, Europe. Big cities never usually make the cut because students are always looking to have that "fun in the sun" experience, but this year might be different. Megan McHugh, A&S '12, has decided to travel to Washington, D.C., with her friend and roommate Sarah Gazzaniga, LSOE '12. "I didn't want to go home, and everything else is so expensive, so this seemed like a really good alternative especially since I have family there," McHugh says. This year, like many others before it, has seen a very big trend in budget traveling. Students all over the country search on Twitter, airline Web sites, and discount travel sites such as Orbitz to find deals to cut their costs. Or there is the route that McHugh and Gazzaniga will be taking – in an effort to completely eliminate the cost of board at a hotel, they will be staying with family. Although McHugh will not be spending time on the beach with her friend, she insists that she has plenty on her plate during her week in the capital. "Sarah has friends at GW that we'll visit, and of course we'll take the tours of the monuments," says McHugh. "There's so much to do there, including great shopping, and it's awesome because it's a different city from Manhattan and Boston, both of which I'm really familiar with." While McHugh and Gazzaniga explore a new city and experience the culture of the nation's capital, other students will be volunteering across the United States, but not necessarily with a student-run organization on campus.

Ben Levy, CSOM '12, has decided to spend his spring break on the Alternative Spring Break (ASB). However, before deciding to take part in the ASB program, Levy originally planned on traveling to Sun Valley, Idaho to ski and snowboard with his family and friends. "I can't really remember a spring break where I didn't travel to a ski resort with my family," Levy explains. This year, though, Levy made the choice to break away from the norm and do something different. Although he wanted to volunteer, he also wanted to abandon the "BC Bubble," so Levy decided to join the ASB team to meet new people as part of an entirely new experience, rather than volunteer with Appalachia or another student-run group on campus. "I wanted to try something different and meet new kids," he says. "College is all about new experiences, and I see this as another opportunity for me." The organization that Levy will be traveling with is i-to-i Volunteer Travel, which specializes in volunteer work in Central America. "With i-to-i, I'll be able to get the spring break in the sun that I always like to have while simultaneously helping people in need," he says. "I couldn't think of a better combination than that."

In the Volunteer Travel program, students can choose from a variety of destinations from Ireland to India, to Croatia to Costa Rica. In an interview with About.com's Student Travel, Lee Ann Johnson, i-to-i's managing director, stated, "For college students looking to do more than sleep in late and visit with myriad aunts, uncles, and cousins over winter, spring or summer break, the volunteer vacation can help them learn about their careers, their world, and themselves." The Volunteer Travel program is open to all college students, and they can choose to work for as short as one week or as long as 24 weeks. The opportunities that the program provides range from teaching English to constructing and fixing homes. Students that take part in the program also can obtain valuable experience in educational interests such as social sciences, journalism, and fundraising, while simultaneously gaining college credit.

Whether students will be traveling to the beautiful sunny shores of the Bahamas or visiting new cities, spring break is time to be spent with family and friends,to let loose and forget about the stresses of school for a solid week. "After midterms are over, I just need a week to recover and get over the intensity of school," Levy says. "Sometimes, winter break doesn't even seem long enough. I'm glad to be getting away and experiencing something unfamiliar and different."

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