Editorial: Why I Cannot Enjoy Vacations
By Gloria Han
Class of 2016
Like any other student, six hours a day at school for five days a week put a strain on me–not to mention the hours of homework put in each night. I find myself counting down the days till December break or thinking about all the things I’ll do when it’s finally summer. I can finally binge-watch three seasons of ‘Friends’, and start that John Green book, I think excitedly. Most of all, I just look forward to a stress-free, relaxing week, spent with family and friends. Sadly though, breaks never turns out the way I hope they will–and I think this goes for a lot of students.
It’s always on that last day before vacation begins that I realize my plans are foiled and watch them fall down the drain. In the morning it’s slightly easier to get up, because I know that in less than seven hours I won’t have to set foot in school for a whole week’s worth or more. When I arrive to school and sit down in homeroom, I feel impatient, fidgeting my feet, because I just want the day to get rolling. Then the bell rings and I’m off to my first class of the day. Class is fine and everyone’s more loosened up than usual. Then suddenly, our teacher assigns work to do over break and my jaw drops–and it only goes downhill from there. By the end of the day, my head starts to hurt. Okay, I rub my temples. So by the time we get back, I have to make a PowerPoint presentation, read a three-hundred page book, write an essay, solve four pages of math problems, outline three chapters of a textbook, and memorize a Spanish song.
That’s just an example, of course, but very similar to what I’ve actually been assigned to do over break. It is not an easy feat, especially when I also had to simultaneously finish college applications. The summer is no different. Just last year, I was given long term assignments for every single subject, and I have no shame in admitting that even with the two-and-a-half months we had, completing them all was a struggle against time. You might think, Well maybe that’s because you waited till the last minute. I couldn’t have even if I wanted to, with all the different deadlines enforced on each assignment.
My point is that all this workload defeats the purpose of a vacation. I feel the same stress and worry that I endure during an average school week during my days of break. The purpose of a vacation is to feel at ease, to be away from a busier reality. Yet with all these tasks, how am I supposed to enjoy my days off? Last summer, while I was visiting Colorado, I couldn’t help but constantly mull over all the remaining assignments waiting for me back at home. I understand that our teachers don’t want us to forget what we’ve learned while we’re gone, but the whole objective of school is to learn and relearn, so that even when we’ve passed the topic we still remember it. Besides, it’s inevitable that someday we’re going to forget a lot of what we’ve learned anyways. Sometimes we just need to take our minds off school for extended periods of time, just not think about it at all for the sake of our health and sanity. School affects the way I sleep, eat, work, think, move–everything. And not always for the better.
I don’t have a specific solution to all this, but what I do know is that work over break needs to be cut down, at least a little bit. Soon enough senior year will be over and I’ll be out of high school, but I fear for those who still have yet to enter high school or are in the midst of it already. When can our vacations finally and reasonably be called “vacations”?
Gloria Han is a student in Advanced Placement English Language and Composition