Sitting on a beach in early March, heavily consuming alcohol and embracing a “you only live once” attitude could only mean one thing – spring break.
Though it might be a time to let loose and rid oneself of the stress of being a college student, spring break can take a major toll on a person’s physical and mental well-being, as well as their wallets.
Spring break planning happens months in advance as students attempt to save enough for hotels, gas, food and alcohol.
“I hoped and prayed that my tax refund was good and I currently work on campus, so that helps a little,” said Howell senior Joseph Maffeo. “Of course I put money aside for alcohol.”
Some students find that a strict budget helps them stay on track and plan ahead.
“I saved the money I got for Christmas to go toward spring break and we’re driving with a lot of people to cut down on costs,” said Lake Orion senior Jennifer Avakian. “I just have around $300 that is going to be used for gas, alcohol and spending money, and I’m trying really hard not to go over my budget.”
Though financing spring break is a large part of planning the perfect trip, mental and physical health are also a factor.
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, most spring break injuries happen while under the influence of alcohol, specifically binge drinking.
Though a common theme during spring break is to be chronically intoxicated, binge drinking is related to other health problems such as alcohol poisoning, high blood pressure and liver disease.
“To be honest, I have no idea how I will make it through,” Avakian said. “Everybody tells me you won’t stop drinking the whole week, but I don’t know if I can even do that. My body is going to hate me after a good two weeks after this trip.”
Trying to avoid drinking too much alcohol and participating in other spring break temptations might be a challenge, but Central Michigan University Health Services insists that moderation is key.
“Everyone has heard all the precautions for spring break,” UHS said in a written statement. “Don’t drink and drive, don’t use recreational drugs. If you are going to drink, drink responsibly, and if you are going to have sex, practice safe sex.”
There are secondary risk factors of spring break, especially when the possibility of a one-night fling is in the air. Being surrounded by a large number of people who you might never see again provides a sense of urgency, but also brings about the issues of sexually transmitted infections and sexual violence.
Some students are strategically planning to avoid these situations.
“My roommate and I have already made a pact to utilize the buddy system unless we’re at our hotel,” said St. Clair Shores senior Ashley Scheetz. “Also, condoms, condoms, condoms.”
Whether enjoying a relaxing week with friends or partying hard into the early hours of the morning, surviving spring break and coming back in one piece is top priority. Some students have their own philosophies.
“What happens in Panama, stays in Panama,” Maffeo said. “I’ll survive with condoms, Advil, breath mints and energy drinks.”