By Annie Gough Staff Writer
Christmas shopping and catching up on sleep may be on students’ to-do lists once exams are over, but many are also taking advantage of the long winter break in more ambitious ways.
This school year’s winter break will be six and a half weeks long, said Provost Michael McDonald, Ph.D. One factor in deciding to begin break before Thanksgiving is that recently, Kalamazoo College has attracted more out-of-state and international students.
“One of the problems with the calendar system is that holidays move,” said McDonald. He explained that in the future, winter break can be anywhere from five to six and a half weeks long.
“I’ve never had this super long break because the calendar changed while I was abroad,” said Margaux Reckard ’13. “But I’m going on a road trip out to California, where I live, and back with two of my roommates.”
Reckard said the group will stop in cities like New Orleans, Santa Fe and Houston, as well as camp out.
Kira Sandiford ’15, who is spending twelve days in Spain, is also grateful for the possibility of a long trip. She said she is going with friend Emily Sklar ’15 to stay with friends who studied abroad at K last year and have returned to Spain.
“Post-college, hopefully I’ll have a job,” said Sandiford, “and not many jobs allow for a seven-week break. So I thought it’s a great opportunity to leave the country for a couple of weeks. I’m hoping to just really experience a different culture.”
Sandiford said that with the remainder of her break, she will work on her study abroad application and structuring for the Kalamazoo Outing Club, in which she is a member of the executive board, as well as possibly hold an internship with Extreme Things.
“Last year was the first year for this long break and right away we noticed students wanting to do something with their time,” said Joan Hawxhurst, director of the Center for Career and Professional Development.
Hawxhurst said the CCPD decided not to create another official K program like the summer internships, but rather encourage students to contact alumni through the Guilds, a networking platform on LinkedIn.
“They (alumni) love this place and they love their experiences and they would be honored to share their time,” said Hawxhurst. “In the end it comes down to connecting with people.”
Paula Dallacqua ’15 plans on building her resumé by participating in an international Service Learning trip to Belize, working in a hospital setting with Well Child International.
“I’ve never done a trip like this before,” said Dallacqua. “From what I know about this organization, it’s pretty hands-on.”
The organization focuses on prenatal care and HIV awareness, which is appealing to Dallacqua since she said she would like to be a pediatrician or OB/GYN.
Depsite the range of options for students looking to do something exciting or productive with their winter break, Hawxhurst stressed the importance in taking the time to reflect and relax. She said that one reason for lengthening the break is to recognize how hard K students work.
“It’s good to step back, take a rest and let yourself enjoy some time off,” said Hawxhurst.