Fall break provides chance for relaxation, adventures

Daniel Kim

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Midway into first semester every year, faculty members and students of Whitman College are given a four-day break from classes and their daily rigors. Many take advantage of the time to travel or have an outdoor adventure; others see it as an opportunity to catch up on work or erase their sleep debts.

All see it as a welcome shift away from daily pressures of college life.

“We adopted the four-day weekend because we thought it was quite burdensome to ask students to go nonstop from late August until November,” said Provost and Dean of Faculty Timothy Kaufman-Osborn.

Some colleges take one week off for their mid-semester break and have only four days for Thanksgiving, while some have four days in October and a week for Thanksgiving. Some students, such as sophomore Thomas Motzer, think that taking two days off in October is optimal.

“Four-day allowed me to catch up on some work I had to do while allowing me to get some rest. I think it’s a necessary break, but a week would be too much time off and would be better saved for Thanksgiving. So the two days extra is perfect,” said Motzer.

Senior biochemistry, biophysics and molecular biology major Ryan Nesbit, who went canoeing in the Cascade Mountains with friends during the long weekend, found four-day a great way to relax from school.

“I needed to step back to take a break from schoolwork and not think about it. I definitely needed that four-day break [to] rejuvenate, to get away and step back. I think that having a mid-semester break is incredibly productive … even if you’re not working. You come back feeling better and want to come back with a fresh mind,” said Nesbit.

Professors also get the chance to relax from school during this four-day break. Some spend time with their families by taking a short jaunt away from Walla Walla, while others stay at school to catch up on grading and reflect on the first half of the semester.

“It’s a nice opportunity to check in with what I’m doing this semester. I don’t use it as a time to get away, but as a time to catch up on grading and think a little bit how the semester has progressed,” said Professor of Physics Kurt Hoffman.

For both students and professors, four-day gives the freedom to everyone who wishes to take advantage of this short but beneficial time.

“I also think about things I need to address in class and how I go about doing that. If we didn’t have a fall break, then that’s a long stretch of time to stay energized, so I think it’s helpful to have a break of some sort,” said Hoffman.

Nesbit agreed that the length is ideal to be at once refreshing and too short to allow study habits to slip.

“I think that four-day is the perfect number of days. It is just the right amount of time to get a break, but [I] haven’t completely lost all motivation to get back to school work. If I had a nine-day break, it would be totally hard to make that transition back into schoolwork mode,” he said.

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