Students trade snowshoes for sandals as spring break begins

Courtney Lewis

This isn’t the first time Sarah Murphy, a senior journalism student, has visited Panama City Beach, Fl., but she said it was a safe bet for spring break since she had so much fun before.

“There were tons of crazy people and everyone was having a great time,” Murphy said. “Everyone has a ‘whatever’ attitude.”

As Murphy packed Thursday afternoon, she said the snow piling up outside made now an even better time to leave.

She is one of several students skipping out on a few days of rough Minnesota weather for spring break next week.

On Murphy’s packing list were plenty of swimsuits and summer gear, but she said she also packed outfits that would be appropriate for going to clubs in the evenings.

Murphy said she and her friends went through Studentcity.com to get their reservations. The Web recommended their hotel on the beach.

Like many other students flying south for spring break, Murphy said she tried to find the cheapest flight to Florida.

Courtney Goetz, a sophomore in the College of Liberal Arts, confined her costs to a single bill, opting for an all-inclusive package to Cancun offered by Student Express. She said she’s probably spending a little more than she would by going through separate agencies, but the final cost of $700 is worth it to her.

“It’s so easy to deal with because everything is organized for you,” Goetz said. “It’s a lot less hassle.”

Goetz will be traveling with 16 to 20 people flying out Sunday for the weeklong trip. She said although she doesn’t know everyone in the group, having more people travel with her cuts the costs.

Getting her tax return prompted Goetz to take up her friend’s offer for spring break in Mexico. Goetz said the return covered the costs of her trip.

“It’s a completely different world,” Goetz said. “There are no rules and no boundaries.”

While students such as Murphy and Goetz chose to relax on sandy beaches and party in nightclubs, Isabella Nartey, a third-year biosciences student and University YMCA staff member said she would like to have gone on the alternative spring break plan the center usually offers.

Alternative spring break plans were available last year to students, but Nartey said time and money constraints made it difficult to recruit participants.

“The immersion programs give students an opportunity to learn about social injustice around the world,” Nartey said.

Last year Nartey helped lead a group of students to focus on Cuban immigration issues in Miami. She said the group would take time to discuss what they were experiencing.

“Reflecting with the group was important for students to process what they were going through and to give them different perspectives in order to better form their own opinions,” Nartey said.

She said the goal of the trip is to learn about other cultures, but often students also volunteer in service learning projects.

Next year, the University YMCA plans to take students to Ghana in West Africa to learn about HIV and AIDS.

Although the focus of the trip is on the learning experience, Nartey said, YMCA also understands that college students want to have fun on spring break.

“We make the time to explore the area, whether it’s hiking on a Saturday or dancing on a Thursday night,” Nartey said.