As spring break begins this weekend, many students will depart for home or exotic locales — but several will settle into their dorms to spend the two-week break on campus.
From finishing senior projects to exploring the Elm City and saving money on travel, 17 students interviewed cited diverse reasons for their stay. But they all agreed on one thing: the campus is about to quiet down.
“New Haven turns into a ghost town when everyone is gone,” said Christian Perez ’12, who stayed on campus during spring break his freshman year and will do so again this year. “Walking around campus, [you see] no one. Walking around the streets, no one. It’s like there are no cars, either. And then on Facebook people write, ‘Who’s here? Who’s here? I don’t think anyone is here but me.’”
Still, Perez and others said they relish the calm. Kevin Shen ’11 compared the experience of living in his near-empty residential college during break to having “a giant house all to yourself.”
Brittney Kajdacsi ’11 has spent previous breaks and summers in New Haven. She said the tranquility of the city during vacation periods reminds her of her home in Illinois.
“Because I’m from a rural area, it’s very calming not to have people bustling about, rushing everywhere,” she said.
Saving money on an expensive trip home to California convinced Jose Perez ’11 — Christian’s brother — to spend every Thanksgiving and spring break on campus since his freshman year. This year, Perez said, he needs to stay to continue his senior project on LED lights for the electrical engineering major.
Some students will work at their campus jobs over the break. Kajdacsi said she will work at the DNA Analysis Facility on Science Hill and continue an independent project there on Galapagos tortoises during vacation.
Aaron Lewis ’14, who works at the circulation desk in Sterling Memorial Library, said he decided to stay at Yale when the library offered him increased hours.
“They offered to give me 37.5 hours a week for 10 days over break,” Lewis said, adding that he hopes to fulfill his student contribution for financial aid over break rather than during the end of spring term.
After learning that her friends’ vacations would not match up with her own, Theresa Bailey ’14 said she decided to stay in New Haven instead of returning home to Augusta, Ga. She will take part in a community service program run by the University Chaplain’s Office, adding that she is looking forward to the chance to “plug myself into the community of New Haven.”
Nineteen undergraduates and five graduate and professional students will participate in the one-week service program, said Associate University Chaplain Callista Isabelle. Projects include cleaning the New Haven harbor and ice-skating with refugees from Integrated Refugee and Immigrant Services (IRIS). More students applied this year than there is space in the program, Isabelle added.
While the University does not officially organize events for students who stay on campus, individual residential colleges can make special arrangements, said John Meeske, associate dean for student organizations and physical resources.
Morse College Master Frank Keil said he allows students to use the Morse student kitchen throughout the break, and Silliman College Master Judith Krauss holds brunches “several days each week” for Silliman students, she said.
The Asian-American Cultural Center also holds a few home-cooked dinners each week, said Aneesh Raghunandan, a coordinator for the center. The Office of International Students and Scholars also holds two dinners per week.
With dining halls closed, students said the biggest challenge they face over break can be finding meals. Christian Perez said he cuts back on meals, eating just twice a day for brunch and dinner.
Durfee’s will accept lunch swipes for students on the meal plan, but most other meals must be self-prepared or bought at restaurants. Other students said they stock up on snacks at Walgreen’s and Hong Kong Market on Whitney Avenue during break.
Despite the logistical difficulties that can arise when dining halls are closed, all eight of the students interviewed who have previously stayed at Yale during vacations said they enjoy the experience.
“After the first week you accept that it’s so empty, you develop a new routine,” said Christian Perez. “Then once people start trickling back into campus, you feel like they’re intruders. And then you realize that it’s a school, and people are meant to be there other than yourself.”
During spring break, most of Yale’s facilities will be open with the exception of dining halls, Meeske said. Libraries will operate with reduced hours.