By: Laura Walker
I’ve never had the desire or need to experience the cliché wild Spring Break. Instead, I crave the solace of a quiet beach after a long winter. This year, I decided to escape to Daytona Beach, FL hoping I would be too far north for the “spring breakers”—I wasn’t. One of the most popular beaches in Florida was transformed for the month of March into a giant fraternity party, with the constant smell of alcohol in the air.
Throughout the week, I found myself asking my friends why is it that students forget their true selves and take on alter egos they might not have even thought about before the week began. It’s a strange ritual. One the authority criticizes and fears, while simultaneously ignoring it for the most part.
At Hopkins, the week prior to Spring Break is midterms week and the sweet relief of Spring Break is the ammo we all needed to make it out of midterms in one piece. The media, authority figures, our parents, professors, and pretty much anyone who has been in college knows the world of spring breaking. They also know that we’re still students, so the closest we’ve gotten to “the real world” is our summer internships and at school an “early day” generally starts well after 9am.
Personally, I need the sun, sand, and warm weather by the time March hits the charm of winter is put away with the Christmas ornaments. On top of that, college students can see the light at the end of a long spring semester, but are still caught in the whirlwind of cramming, stress eating, parental pressures, and essay writing. We’re all exhausted.
While I’m not really defending the craziness that undoubtedly happens on Spring Break in all destinations, I’m also not siding with the media that looks down upon it all. Let’s face it, we all just want to get away sometimes, right?
After the thirteen-hour drive down I-95 south, with a stop overnight in a sleepy town in South Carolina, my friends and I were ready for some vitamin D. Our compact car was stuffed with five suitcases, beach blankets, and road snacks and our patience with each other was running thin. Even though we’re all very close friends, spending that amount of time together trapped in a car is a feat.
Walking into our condo lobby, we were thinking that since it’s a condo it wouldn’t be that crazy. However, between state university flags being carried by fraternity brothers in cut-off shirts and employees rolling their eyes at the debauchery, my five best friends and I were unexpectedly in for a whirlwind of a week and a little shell shocked.
There were so many spring breakers checking in that it took us two hours just to get our room key at the check-in desk. And it’s quite possible we were the only spring breakers there that were sober still, as everyone was drinking out of tumbler cups in line.
As much as we thought we could seamlessly immerse ourselves into the world of unguarded fun, we still kept our distance on the beach; watching from afar University of Kentucky cheerleaders being flung into the air for a stunt in the middle of an enormous beach party. However, we weren’t alone on our side of the beach; everyone on our end just valued personal space a bit more.
The week went by quickly because we did the same thing every single day: wake up, workout, eat breakfast, go to the beach until the sun went behind the buildings, make dinner, and then go out to the bars. It was fun, exhausting, entertaining, and we definitely felt like we needed a vacation from our vacation.
The bar scene was unlike any Baltimore nightly outing. Typically, my friends and I would go wherever people we met on the beach were going. The venues were a cross between a typical “bar scene” and a dance party night club with, somehow, a little bit of dirty sand on the ground. Of course, it was loud and talking to people became a screaming match. I learned to perfect the “smile and nod” concept and I’m sure the person I was talking to did the same thing.
Quickly, I learned that having fun when you go out on Spring Break is all about becoming instant best friends with a random stranger, so you don’t have to feel so awkward and alone in a crowd of people.
In the aftermath, I suppose I can see why people become their alter egos on Spring Break; you’re friends with strangers for a week straight that you won’t ever see again. You can become anyone you want. I met a group of guys who told me they played hockey at Dartmouth, but in fact go to UMass at Dartmouth. (And yes, my friends and I figured that out by Googling their hockey team.) I didn’t care at all that they lied, though, because in the end, will I ever see or talk to them again? Probably not.
The idea of using university rankings to take on a new person is exactly what the attitude of my Spring Break was (and probably many others)– become someone you could never possibly be in reality.