Mini vibe breaks

Sophmore Susan Maharjan cooks eggs in South Complex. Many students have to cook for themselves over break.

While most students are happy to be back in their dorms after the break, some never left. Others spent a portion of the break on an empty campus.

The majority of students who were stuck on campus during the break were from different countries and didn’t have time to fly back home. Other students stayed on campus for job training, involvement in certain organizations or groups, such as the Bearcat Steppers, or simply because they were working in Maryville.

Sophomore Susan Maharjan is a Nepalese student who spent his entire break on campus.

“It was my first time to stay here during winter break,” Maharjan said. “I had a plan with my sister to travel around California, but I was not prepared to spend so much money.”

Instead of going on the planned trip with his sister, he wanted to earn and save money so he could travel during future breaks. He worked as a member of the break staff in South Complex.

Most of his day consisted of making three sets of rounds around the building and watching movies.

Maharjan didn’t have a car on campus, so he utilized the shuttle run by the Safe Ride Home program to get to Walmart to buy groceries. He spent $200 - $300 on food during the entire break. Sometimes when he wanted to shop and it was outside of the shuttle hours, he walked to Hy-Vee.

A student who spent a portion of her break on campus was freshman Heather Freund. She only spent the first and last weeks of the break on campus, spending the two holiday weeks in between at her home in Iowa.

Freund stayed on campus because she worked for the after-school program at the St. Gregory Barbarigo Catholic School. While she spent most of her day at work, she used her free time for exercising, reading and filling out scholarship applications.

Many students who travel home for winter break don’t have to worry about planning meals and buying groceries. With the dining hall and food facilities on campus closed, students who stay on campus over break have to prepare or find their own meals.

After work, Freund cooked dinner in the kitchen on the main floor. During the last week of break, she also ate food her mom packed for her when she was at home  to minimize the cost of food.

“My mom is an excellent chef,” Freund said. “My parents have their own feed yard, so I use meat that they give to me. So I only spend about $5 on food (per day), because I shop pretty well.”

Freund enjoyed her experience on campus during the break.

“It’s really quiet, and if you’re a driven person, you get a lot accomplished,” Freund said.

Another student, freshmen Helen Adair, spent a portion of her winter break on campus simply because she wanted to. She returned to her dorm a week early.

“I just wanted to kind of get back into the swing of things and get my sleep schedule back on track,” Adair said.

She spent her mornings at the gym and getting coffee, but she stayed in her room for the rest of the day. For food, she ordered pizza, drove off campus, and kept microwavable meals in her refrigerator. She said it cost $15 per day, on average.

All three students became lonely after spending time on the empty campus.

“The campus was very quiet, and it felt like a ghost town,” Maharjan said.

Adair spent time talking on the phone with family members and friends to make up for the silence in her dorm room most days.

“It’s both a blessing and a curse that there aren’t too many people around,” Adair said. “It’s a lot quieter, so that’s kind of nice. You have more of a sense of privacy, but there isn’t someone to talk to whenever you want.”

Freund enjoyed the quiet but quickly became tired with the lack of social interaction.

“I don’t like how you don’t see very many people,” Freund said. “I miss asking people how their day is going and having a routine established.

Maharjan, Freund and Adair had positive experiences on campus over break but would hope for some kind of food accommodations on campus for the future, even if it would only be open for a couple hours each day.

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