When I came to Yale, I was really surprised that there was a thing called “October Break.” It’s an unfamiliar concept for a lot of students who come here, who are used to winter, spring, and summer vacations. But I realized that October Break, although only five days long, serves an important function for the Yale community – a break for everyone.
Many classes have their midterm exams until right before break, and until then, the atmosphere on campus can seem pretty contradictory – autumn is just starting on campus with beautiful colors on trees, but gloom is taking over as students begin to stress about their midterms. I had a midterm on the last day before break and I, like so many others, was very stressed and exhausted from the endless studying.
But once the midterm was over, I was free. It’s kind of like that High School Musical moment when everyone counts down to summer, but this time I had finished half of fall semester. Because Yale’s community comes from so many backgrounds, interests, and homes, the campus quickly disperses into different activities over October Break. Some choose to go home – whether that’s home in warm, sunny Los Angeles, good ol’ New York City, or even home to the opposite side of Earth to Hong Kong. Many choose to go to Manhattan for a day trip, which I have done for the past two years. For me, a day trip to New York means getting the delicious Korean food that I can’t get in New Haven, splurging on endless desserts, and getting a sense of the busy city life before coming back home in a food coma (but with a smile on my face).
For many others, however, October Break is exactly that – a break. Many choose to stay on campus to catch up on sleep, relax, and take a breather from the rhythm of Yale life that was getting overwhelming. For me, this break was perfect for that, and I chose to stay at Yale since many of my friends were staying. Of course, we’re a pretty active group of friends, so we decided to do something more than just chill around at our dorms.
This fall break, my close group of friends and I decided to stay and finally go on that East Rock hike that we’ve been talking about for two years. East Rock has various trails for anyone who’s looking to do a run, bike up to the peak, or looking for a picnic with a view of Downtown New Haven and the New Haven Harbor. My friends and I chose the quickest trail to the top, which only takes about 10 minutes. Fall is beautiful in New Haven, and we found plenty of fun colors all around. I also brought some wine and cheese with me and shared it with my friends, watching the sun set in the grass.
The rest of the break consisted of what I really needed after an intense round of midterms – resting, eating, and sleeping. Even though it was the first time I had stayed in my room for an entire day since coming to Yale, it provided the mental and physical recovery that I needed. It was also a time for me to reflect on how fast the first half of the semester had gone by. October break is a breather that I think everyone needs and it’s nice to know that Yale recognizes that need. I couldn’t imagine how mentally exhausted I would be going all the way to Thanksgiving Break without a chance to step back a little bit. Whether or not you stay on campus, I think October Break is a chance to retreat and appreciate Yale, New Haven, your newly-formed friendships, and of course, the beautiful colors of autumn.