Illustration by Joaquín Kunkel

Fall Break Breakthroughs Fall Through

What does fall break look like for NYUAD?

As students returned from various locations around the globe after fall break, the highline filled with chatter about who went where, who did what and whose fall break experience was the most #Blessed. Their peers who stayed on campus told them about the time well spent, the progress on capstones and how beautifully quiet the dining hall was.
However, behind the glamorous Instagram photos and pleasant conversations about relaxation, a darker story seemed to emerge. When The Gazelle set out to collect students’ Fall Break stories, the recurring elements we started to find were disappointment, confusion and regret.
“I was hoping to be able to spend a week in nature and tranquility. Away from Saadiyat, away from the same faces day-in, day-out. Little cafes, where I can imagine the stories of the strangers surrounding me, [redacted] seemed like the perfect destination for solo travel when I picked my destination,” said Georgia Beirutson.*
“What did I get instead? I literally found somebody else’s NYU ID on a hiking trail one day, that’s how many students were on the same trip. There is also this really famous restaurant that I have read about on this little food blog I follow.” According to The Gazelle’s investigative reporting team, it was Buzzfeed.
“But what do I find when I show up? There’s no place to sit, because all the tables are occupied by people from my Intro to Postcolonial Basket Weaving class.”
Carie T. Inse, another student traveling in [redacted] had some other problems related to the overwhelming number of fellow students visiting the same region as her.
“Every day I would, like, see these beautiful places, but when I was scrolling through my social media at night, I saw that other groups took all these amazing photos of the same place, which looked even cooler. I was thinking, Why didn’t I think of wearing a flower crown, or why couldn’t I have made friends with a puppy?” Inse told The Gazelle in exasperation.
“What was even worse was when they posted pictures of places I hadn’t seen at all. I mean, that just caused some major FOMO [Fear of Missing Out]. Like, I was just in [place], why didn’t I know there was an elephant orphanage? One time I even found myself getting jealous of this beach pic somebody posted, because we had just had three days of rain, and they were on frigging Saadiyat Beach. Unbelievable.”
Among senior students, feelings of panic around capstone progress and finding jobs is starting to develop.
“I decided to stay on campus during the break so that I could really buckle down and make progress on my capstone. I was calling it my Fall Break Breakthrough,” 50 different seniors told us, with pleased little smirks on their faces because of the clever name. That smile quickly faded once the next thought entered their heads, however.
“Then I just didn’t get anything done. I knew I needed to rest a little bit, so I took off the first day,” said Nate Procrast. “And then the next. And then the next again, until I was just cramming assignments last minute like everybody else, my poor capstone weeping in the corner, collecting dust.”
The sentiment was echoed by others, like Reginald “Reg” Ratter.
“I wish I would have just traveled somewhere. You have to take advantage of these opportunities now, you know? I could have been sitting on a beach with a coconut in my hand. Instead I stayed in bed and burned through all six seasons of Lost, and got angry at the ending again,” said Ratter.
Some of the seniors who did travel also second-guessed their decisions.
“Talking to some of my friends, like Reg or Nate, who stayed on campus and actually made progress on work and put in applications to places put things in perspective for me. The time to act is now, and sitting on beaches while sipping on coconuts is for when I am old,” a friend of Procrast and Ratter, who asked to remain anonymous, told us while lounging under the Central Plaza palms.
The severity of the situation is perhaps best illustrated by Health and Wellness’ assertion that student stress levels are so high after the break that CaLiCoCo facilities see more traffic now than they did during midterm exams. The administration has expressed its hope that students will take the upcoming National Day Break to simply travel to the library and back in order to avoid any additional anxiety.
Certain names and locations have been changed and/or redacted to protect people’s ability to project a perfect Fall Break experience and obscure honest representations of life.
Aron Braunsteiner is a Columnist. Email him at feedback@thegazelle.org.
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