By the end of finals, many students were more than ready to go home. With the campus completely blanketed in snow, there was some uncertainty that everyone could safely get home if they were traveling by train or plane, and not all students had the opportunity of returning home.
Some others had their breaks cut short due to on-campus obligations.
Vassar’s winter break this academic year lasted from the end of finals until the twenty-second of January.
Over Winter Break, almost 120 international students or student-athletes stayed on-campus. Apartment residents who returned had the option to stay in their apartments. Since ACDC was closed, students either had to stock their fridges and brush up on their cooking skills or order in. Except for a few essential offices, many of the buildings on campus were closed.
Sports teams, such as men’s and women’s basketball, swimming, fencing and volleyball, came back early in order to stay in shape for the end of or beginning of season. Other students were unable to go home for a variety of reasons. Whoever stayed moved into either Noyes or student apartments for intersession housing.
Hannah Senftleber ’14, a captain for the women’s basketball team, has been on campus since Dec. 26, as she said, “The day after Christmas. After that, the next morning we flew out to Las Vegas for a basketball tournament and came back on New Years day.”
Senftleber and her team weren’t affected by the storms.
“We were lucky enough to miss the big winter storm and our travel plans by like a day. Thankfully we were able to return back to Vassar without any delays,” she said.
Senftleber said her team did well in Vegas. She wrote, “We played very good competition against a nationally ranked team, Amherst, who was ranked number three.”
Once they were back on campus, Senftleber admitted, “Vassar is very remote with so many students gone,” but, this being her fourth time attending intersession training, she said, “But winter break is always about bonding with my teammates so I usually don’t notice the diminished amount of students.”
While one would think that being on campus without having to attend classes or do homework leaves plenty of free time, Senftleber said that is not so.
“It’s not that easy to become lonely on campus especially when I am being kept so busy with basketball. If I am not at practice, at the gym, or eating, there is very minimal free time so it is difficult to not find something to do.”
Intersession training isn’t entirely about the strenuous training: it is also about the love of the sport. Senftleber said, “Being here on campus with my teammates makes it very difficult to become lonely. I love being here and playing basketball. It is the one part of the season where you can solely focus on basketball without the stress of academics.”
Christopher Cerutti ’17, a member of the varsity swim team, has been back on campus since Jan. 3.
Cerutti normally lives in Lathrop, and he said that “Vassar without all the students is very different. It’s especially weird not living in my own room and having a different roommate.”
Cerutti was one of the few swimmers who was not actually paired with another swimmer during his stay at Vassar over the break.
Cerutti said about the emptiness of campus at this time, “At times it was very lonely, but thankfully I had my team with me to keep me company.”
Ami Ono ’14 is an international exchange student from Japan. She stayed over Winter Break because of the inconvenience of traveling.
“I didn’t want to waste my time taking airplanes to go back to my country. I would rather stay here and do something that I have wanted to do, like cooking and sewing,” Ono said. She did get to see her parents, however. “On Dec. 31 I traveled in Pennsylvania with my parents.”
“Plus, I wanted to practice swimming during the break,” she added.
Ono said that Vassar with the majority of students gone is very different.
“It’s very quiet at night. This is so nice because I can sleep well!”
But even with so many people gone, Ono said she did not get lonely.
“Many people from swim team are staying in Noyes during the break. I practice swimming and sometimes eat with them, seeing each other day and night. I have never been so social during the winter break in my life, which was fun.”
Ono said that she made the most of her time.
She said, “I enjoyed going to the grocery store. Food is so cheap in the US! I got so excited and bought too much. I also enjoyed cooking, too.”
It was Marcos Vargas’s ’15 second time on campus during winter break.
“I stayed in a friend’s room in Noyes. It was a single so I had a room to myself,” wrote Marcos in an emailed statement. He added,“Break was very boring. I played a lot of video games and read a couple book series with my free time.”
Vargas told how he was also able to explore some of the dining available in downtown Poughkeepsie.
He shared, writing in an emailed statement, “Mole Mole is fine for some taste of Latin@ dishes, but I wouldn’t necessarily call it authentic.”
He went on, “The couple of restaurants that I tried on Main were all much closer to the style of food that I’m used to from back home.”
Winter Break at Vassar is far from a unified experience for students. Athletes, student workers and those who simply cannot leave campus for one reason or another all have different ways to manage their time on-campus between semesters. From cooking to training to simply existing, a stay at Vassar for a break ultimately depends on the student.