A warm beach with palm trees and serene waves. This is the picture that people tend to imagine when they think of spring break, but not everyone at Loyola has the same spring break experience.
After a long and bitter winter with record-breaking cold and snow, one would think that students might want to go south to warmer climates to defrost. However, if these Loyola students are any indication, many students may be not be following that trend.
Some Loyolans are using spring break as an opportunity to join the men’s basketball team at its first Missouri Valley Conference Arch Madness tournament this spring break. The tournament will take place March 6-9 in St. Louis, and nearly 200 people have signed up to go so far, including the pep band, athletes and dance team, according to Loyola’s Vice President for Student Development Robert Kelly.
“We do know it’s going to be a fun event,” Kelly said. “This is really about building community, the student experience, and hopefully we’ll also do competitively well. It’s an opportunity to take over another city and to show folks Loyola pride and the Rambler way.”
Senior psychology of natural sciences major Thomas Serena, who is attending Arch Madness, said he looks forward to using the experience to build new friendships.
“I’m studying for my MCAT right now and I knew I needed to get a break,” the 22-year-old said. “Not only will I get to spend time with my close friends, but also there will be a lot of people there from Loyola that I haven’t met before. So it’s an awesome time to build community and to support our basketball team.”
To attend Arch Madness, students can choose from two package options, both of which were created to cater to students on a budget this spring break, according to Kelly.
The Rambler package, which costs $40, includes round trip transportation to the tournament, a hotel subsidy, admission to all Loyola tournament games, a pep rally and a T-shirt.
For $30, students can purchase the St. Louis package, which offers the same features as the Rambler package, with the exception of round trip transportation.The deadline to buy a student package is Feb. 20.
Sophomore Brandon Bernhardt, 19, is also planning a unique spring break experience. Bernhardt and four of his friends are going on a trip to Toronto, Canada.
“Pretty much everyone in our immediate friend group wanted to do Canada,” said Bernhardt, a biology major. “We picked Toronto because there [are] a lot of things to do there; it is kind of a tourist center and it wasn’t too far away.”
Toronto is the largest city in Canada with a population of more than 2 million. It is the capital of the province of Ontario, located on the shores of Lake Ontario. Due to its similar geographic features, some have called Toronto the “Chicago of Canada.”
Bernhardt and his friends plan on visiting some of the more popular attractions of the city, such as the Royal Ontario Museum and the CN Tower. The Royal Ontario Museum’s website claims that it is the largest museum in Canada; it is known for its large archaeology collection that has pieces from all over the world.
But some spring break trips are a little closer to home. Only a five-hour drive away is Washington Island, a small island off the Door Peninsula in Wisconsin. This is 19-year-old Katie Colbeck’s spring break destination of choice. She has been regularly making trips to Washington Island her entire life.
“Since I’ve been there my whole life, I have a home there, I have friends there, I have a job there,” said the communications major, who has a tattoo of the island on her arm. “I even have family there.”
Washington Island has a variety of restaurants and shops for tourists to visit. It also has plenty of beaches for swimming, as the island is located on Lake Michigan. However, due to the low temperatures of early spring, there aren’t many people who use them when water temperatures are still this low.
Loyola’s spring break takes place Saturday, March 1, through Sunday, March 9, which is significantly earlier than other universities in the area. A couple of weeks can make a huge difference in temperature, so many other colleges wait until the end of March for spring break.
Even though the average temperature of Washington Island is lower than the average temperature of Chicago, according to Colbeck it is still a fulfilling vacation spot during the colder months.
“Even if you just go there as a tourist for your first time, you can’t leave without making some friends or just totally getting into the island experience,” Colbeck said.
Not all spring break trips are just about having fun. Freshman Becca Thiemann is going to Taizé, France on a pilgrimage.
“It’s actually [a program] through Loyola,” said Thiemann.
Taizé is a type of service that focuses on prayer and meditation that holds services in Madonna Della Strada on Thursday nights. According to Loyola’s Campus Ministry website, Taizé prayer is candlelit and features repetitive, chantlike music. Students going on the Taizé trip will be exploring and helping the brothers of Taizé.
During World War II, Frère Roger founded the Taizé community in response to the suffering that the war had inflicted upon people in the French countryside. His goal was to bring Christians of different nationalities together to create a place for refugees to live.
It is a small village, so transportation options to the village are limited. Thiemann will be taking a plane to Lyon, France, and then taking a bus from there.
“When I went to [Taizè services] I thought it was a nice middle-of-the-week way to kind of bring yourself back to center and reflect on yourself,” Thiemann said. “As a freshman, I thought that this would be a good way to reflect on how my year had gone and what I want to do for the rest of my college career.”
Not everyone travels for break, though. Some people stay at school or home. Regardless of how it is spent, spring break offers students a vital week of respite in the middle of a cold semester.