Mar

15

In Defense Of: A Traditional Spring Break

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Bwog upon return from break

Bwog upon return from break

In the last few hours before it’s finally all over–at least for a week–Bwog defends drunkenly doing nothing in a place without Antarctic temperatures but with real bars.

I’m going to Cancun for spring break. It’s a simple enough sentence, but every time I share with friends or with a class what my plans are next week, there’s a combination of genuine enthusiasm, snide commentary, and inevitable comparisons. Most of the time, I mumble the final destination or just substitute a generic “Mexico,” hoping to mitigate the cliche just a bit. I was even tempted to directly lie and say that I was going with family, not with a friend my age. In my entire class, I was the only one who blatantly admitted to be taking a traditional vacation: no work, no home, no assignments, no service projects, no week-long internships.

There’s an overwhelming sense of self-conscious derision at Columbia surrounding the traditional spring break: we all see the photo albums on our news feeds of high school friends who have commandeered an entire hotel in Puerto Vallarta with the rest of their college, and are steadily getting drunker and drunker and oranger and oranger. Then we laugh at them and the cliche they’re supporting. Hell, I’m laughing at them — as I’m packing my bathing suits and shorts that haven’t seen the light of day in months. Many of my friends are having relatively relaxing breaks as well; but just as many are spending this week training for a leader position over the summer, or volunteering, or working at their home-town job, or just being really busy. The alternative spring break movement is proof that people want to do something useful with their time off, which is a fantastic impulse that I am far too tired and self-centered to mimic. Maybe my reaction is so strong because this itself is a first for me: I’ve spent all of my spring breaks either at home, with family, or at home with family, until this year. Ironically enough, my parents were the ones positively pushing me towards this ridiculously self-indulgent trip, which definitely helps a little with the automatic guilt of not doing something “improving.”

I’m well aware that I’m living the cliche (and let’s be real, I’m one of the last people at this school you would picture when you think “college spring break in Cancun”). I’m also well aware that I’m not going to be doing anything of meaning or value for the next seven days, and will most likely not even start my assigned reading. And I’m fucking thrilled. Let the summer be where we give our lives to resume-building activities in the full knowledge and acceptance that we’re doing so — but what harm will a week taken just for yourself do? And yes, the only reason I’m even able to defend spring break is because I’m lucky enough to be able to take this trip. I’m going to choose to take it without the layers of self-awareness and triple sarcasm we regularly use when we’re having fun, or doing something for ourselves.

But too serious already: I’ll get back to you when I’m sunburned, hungover for the next week, and have a “VIVA MEXICO” tattoo emblazoned on my back.

Decisions via Shutterstock

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17 Comments

  1. so...  

    does this really need defending?

  2. BCW

    This is a prime example of a First World Problem.

  3. i mean

    i DO think this needs defending. there's an air here that means if you're having fun that costs money and doesn't help your resume, you're privileged and lazy and doing it wrong. have a nice trip!

  4. man,

    Your friends must really suck. Most of the people I know from Columbia (or Ivies in general) are yolo'ing it up on a beach somewhere for spring break.

  5. Anonymous

    Because Mexico, and Central America in general, is a HUGE territory with lots of access to warm beaches and bodies of water where you can throw on your little bikini, YES I will still judge you as the conventional gringa tourist who flocks to the sites of the tourist industry to throw down their privileged money. You are not 'lucky' to have this trip, you are choosing to use your privileged access to money to go there ---why try to deflect self-responsibility for your choices?

    The idea of 'relaxation' in a ridiculous tourist destination like Cancun (where the high story hotels built by foreign investments privately own the only strip touching the coast, which is nowhere near the million dollar airport built in the jungle, or the city of locals whose lives are centered around rich foreigners), compared to all the other pristine water sites in Central America, is something the tourist industry basically feeds to the [geographically and culturally ignorant] imagination of North Americans. Cancun is nothing but a space for extracting money from their pockets. Having traveled through Central America, I can tell you Cancun actually SUCKS. It is not paradise. It's kind of a clusterfuck.

    Go get 'Viva Mexico' tattooed on your back when you actually learn anything about Mexican history and revolutions (which, by the way, never took place in Cancun or Puerto Vallarta or those other destinations whose tourist constituents are heavily protected by the Mexican state, which can't really be said for those living in NAFTA industrial zones or indigenous regions where state violence and state appropriation of land is a regular thing).

    So it's not really the cliche that I'm 'laughing' at (I'm actually just shaking my head) but this sorry excuse for a defense which doesn't even attempt to go beyond superficial logics of what is 'Mexico' or what is a 'proper spring break activity'

    • "Third World" '14

      @Anonymous: Clearly a holier-than-thou American who has literally no idea of the positive economic impact of tourism on developing countries. Bye.

      • Anonymous

        Cool I'll die so you can stay in your guilt-free ignorant bubble of privilege, cozy in there huh?

        • irony

          Its funny how much you rant about the privilege of other people, when you admit that you've been to Cancun and you've traveled through Central America. I suppose you did this with the money you saved from your old coal mining job. Real working class hero lol.

          • Anonymous

            'the money you saved from your old coal mining job' -What weird classist fantasy do you have? I actually paid for the trip using the money from work-study. I'm not a hero and there isn't any irony in being able to pay for something that you seek to do; sorry you can't reduce your analysis to the stories in lithum.

            FYI central america is VERY cheap to travel through, compared to europe for example -that's partly what I was trying to say. You can use local transportation (not private services), stay at cheap hostels, meet families, stay for free, eat at the market, find ways of living that are quite modest compared to the typical Cancun vacation. I know plenty of well-off people who 'choose' not to stay in extravagant hotels at every location they travel through and find comfort in knowing where they distribute the resources they have.

            Their defenses for their choices don't go like this: "I was even tempted to directly lie [about my choices]...we laugh at them and the cliche they’re supporting [and that I am self-consciously supporting as well]... I’m lucky enough to be able to take this trip...I’m going to choose to take it without the layers of self-awareness and triple sarcasm we regularly use when we’re having fun, or doing something for ourselves." This makes no sense. My meandering response only meant to fathom all the presumptions and excuses that this writer used to defend his or her own knowledge and beliefs

        • Actual Mexican CC'14 Guy

          "Go get 'Viva Mexico' tattooed on your back when you actually learn anything about Mexican history and revolutions"

          A few points:

          a) There's only one war we refer to as 'the Revolution.'

          b) This article's about partying vs working over Spring Break. It is not an invitation for you to go on an incoherent, condescending, lefty rant about NAFTA and land grabs. México is a country that has a history fraught with violence and inequality, but what it is NOT is a nation of peasants victimized by free trade agreements.

          c) Granted a) was an honest mistake, if your knowledge of Mexican history requires you to go back 100 years to find a coherent point of reference, I'd suggest you read a few more books. Anything written by Alan Knight is pretty good.

          d) Finally,
          "(I'm actually just shaking my head)"
          Affect distance all you want, but keep in mind all you accomplish is making yourself look pretentious. Whether you're wrong or right, that's never a good strategy for getting a point across, and that you should choose to write like this betrays the fact you're a fool.

    • "Third World" CC'14

      @Anonymous: Just stop. The only thing as bad as ignorant, privileged Americans are holier-than-thou and seriously delusional Americans like you.

    • Anonymous

      Get over yourself. Your the absolute worst kind of person there is. Don't hate on this girl because you are incapable of understanding fun, or you just have no friends (based on your post this wouldn't come as a shock to anyone). Unless your a troll...please stfu. You are the reason ivy league schools have the reputation of being snobby.

  6. Anonymous

    Mexicans now have two kids per family and are First World. Most of our "illegal Mexicans" are really from further south

  7. I'd say from the sounds of these comments...you should run for the hills! I can't believe all this is over you going on Spring Break for one week calling yourself out as selfish. No selfishness to be found here. Enjoy yourself chica...Vamos!!!!! You can save the world when you return :)

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