By Jillian Terry
By any other name
About a year ago, as a wide-eyed first-year Memorial student, I began to get excited about the prospect of two class-free days in October. After a weekend filled with turkey and all the trimmings, I imagined myself sleeping late into the afternoon and catching up on some of the new fall TV shows. Unfortunately, after looking at my calendar, there seemed to be quite a few tests, papers, and exams to deal with in the days following my imagined repose, which got me thinking: is mid-term break really a break at all?
Shakespeare’s Juliet once famously asked, “What’s in a name?” At many North American universities, Spring Break is officially called Reading Week, supposedly to avoid the negative connotations that Spring Break can bring to mind, as well as to encourage students to begin preparing for final exams.
Perhaps it would be less misleading to call the fall mid-term break “catch-up days” to encourage students to look at those course readings that have been on their desks for weeks, or “travel days” for those students that head home during the long weekend to see their families and friends and have to tackle busy highways and airports.
Since Memorial’s mid-term break falls slightly before the middle of the semester, exams in many courses take place just before and just after the holiday, leaving many MUN students (myself included) needing to use the days to study and research both on and off-campus. This is exactly what I did last October, relinquishing my hope of being a couch potato for at least a day or two.
In reality, 13 weeks isn’t all that long, considering the vast amount of knowledge that it is possible to accumulate in that time. In fact, I probably wouldn’t have even considered needing a break if I hadn’t seen and heard the phrase mid-term break in course syllabi and daily conversation. But, the break can also serve as a goal to strive for, the light at the middle of the tunnel for some students to get through the first month or so of the semester.
This year, I took a different approach to looking at mid-term break. The first thought to come to mind wasn’t a long weekend devoid of all things school-related, nor was it an intense study session at the library. Rather, it was a mix of the two. I knew that I’d be able to see my friends and family, but also had the opportunity to look over some of my course material that is often hard to get to during my weekly routine.
I was able to give thanks not only for Thanksgiving dinner, but also for a few days out of the classroom. Being in the mindset to work is half the battle, and mid-term break is exactly what some students and professors need to reenergize for the rest of the semester. In not taking the “break” in mid-term break too literally, it’s possible to both manage schoolwork and get some well-deserved relaxation. And with regards to those new fall TV shows I missed? Well, there’s always summer reruns.
Jillian Terry is a very busy second-year Arts