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Thursday, May 26, 2022 — Houston, TX

Students talk first normal spring break after two years

Illustrated by Andrea Gomez

By Riya Misra     3/22/22 11:13pm

As March ushers in the first official day of spring, it also marks the first normal spring break for Rice students since 2019. The COVID-19 pandemic sent students home in the spring break of March 2020 and last spring, student holidays throughout the semester replaced spring break. On these “sprinkle days,” classes were not held and assignments could not be due. 

Cindy Sheng, a junior from McMurtry College, said that despite being an upperclassman, she experienced her first proper spring break this year. 

“We went home our freshman year and last year we had sprinkle days,” Sheng said. “This was our first spring break, so that’s been surreal.”

For the break, Sheng said she traveled to South Padre Island with a group of friends. Sheng said they went to the beach and visited restaurants like The Meatball Cafe.

“For break, we wanted to go somewhere warm and tropical,” Sheng said “Everybody seemed to be going to Miami and we felt inspired on that front, so we chose a similar but cheaper option.”

Other students didn’t travel for spring break. Graham Waterstraat, a freshman from Sid Richardson College, said he remained on campus for the break and explored more of Houston.

“I had two friends who also stayed here, so we hung out most of the time,” Waterstraat said. “It was a chill week. We went to the zoo and the Houston Museum of Natural Science. We ate out at Rice Village a couple of times.”

Waterstraat, who is originally from Chicago, said he stayed at Rice as his family was taking a road trip to tour colleges. 

“It just wasn’t really worth the ticket home to Chicago,” Waterstraat said.

Some students, like Will Coben, a fifth-year senior from Wiess College, split their time between Rice and travel. Coben said he spent half of the week visiting a friend in Colorado.

“Usually for spring break, I’ve gone home,” Coben said. “This is the first [break where] I was on campus for a good portion of [it] and also got to travel. It was nice being here, hanging out with my roommates, without responsibilities.”

Coben said he was able to experience a normal spring break both before and after the pandemic.

“I’m happy I had a good [break], and I’m also thankful for the past ones I got to enjoy,” Coben said.

Michael Wang, a freshman from Wiess, said he traveled to Baltimore, Maryland as a participant in “Check the Tech,” an Alternative Spring Break hosted by the Center for Civic Leadership. Wang said his group learned about racial biases affecting medical devices and worked with graduate students at Johns Hopkins University’s Center for Bioengineering Innovation & Design.

“I had a phenomenal time,” Wang said. “It was a great learning experience for me and the other students there.”

Pandemic border restrictions have relaxed, and some students even traveled internationally. Solomon Ni, a freshman from Jones College, and Allison Stocks, a sophomore from Lovett College, said they traveled to Cancun, Mexico together with Stocks’ family.

“We drove to Akumal Beach, went to Playa del Carmen and swam in cenotes,” Stocks said. “[Ni] made Chinese food for my family.”

Stocks said she enjoyed this year’s spring break, especially in comparison to last year’s sprinkle days.

“Last year, we had sprinkle days, and sprinkle days were days to sleep and do homework,” Stocks said. “Whereas this year, I got to go to the beach. So this year was much better than last year.”

More from The Rice Thresher

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Even though McMurtry College senior Isabel Sjodin was raised in Houston, she didn’t know much about Rice until her junior year of high school. She said the first time she was scheduled to tour Rice she ended up chatting with a Rice student on campus and missing said tour. However, that conversation and a later overnight visit at Sid Richardson College made a strong impression on her. 

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