Illustration by Ahmed Bilal

Fall Break Recovery from Burnout Fosters More Burnout

The nine days we have to do nothing, travel the world, or anything in between is a crucial time for rejuvenation. Why is nobody rejuvenated?

Nov 7, 2022

Two weeks ago, the final students returning to campus from Fall Break trickled through the E-Gates of Abu Dhabi and Dubai International Airports. Armed with a globally leading array of infections, enough Instagram stories to distract anyone from a FoS lecture and perhaps even the renewed memory of what actual cool weather feels like, the disorganized sprawl of the UAE from above brought each of them back to reality one by one. But not everyone traveled. A nine-day long fall break — for almost everyone except FoS students, who act like they are the only ones who do work in the first place — is a fantastic privilege. Some students simply used it as a time to unplug from the hectic demands of university life, only to have their dream crushed by a Google Calendar invite to a mandatory team meeting at 9 p.m. on the first Friday of break.
“I didn’t want to go on some intense trip and come back to campus needing a break from the break,” said Byrn Dout, Class of 2025. After dealing with three midterms and two 12-page research papers that happened to all be due on Oct. 14 at 11:59 p.m. for some ungodly reason, rest was all he wanted. Sitting on a packed plane surrounded by an acapella ensemble of screaming toddlers and being questioned at immigration did not sound like relaxation. “I planned to sit in my room, make myself some tea, and watch Netflix every day,” he added. Instead, he woke up at 3 p.m. to question what he was doing with his life before checking the unread emails that piled up no slower than during the semester.
With students’ return, professors have noticed a still diminished motivation among all students — those who stayed on campus, those who went on a brief trip and those who crammed 11 countries into nine days alike.
“Thanks to a week of doing nothing productive, I am now even more exhausted than I was during exam week”, said Dout. According to Professor Harshwerk Loed, the week after fall break saw the lowest attendance in her class of any this semester. To remind her students of the commitment required for her class, she has assigned an entire novel and a 2,000-word research brief due next Monday. “I wonder why none of my students seem to value learning for learning’s sake,” she complained in a faculty meeting. Without time to even think about what learning means because of the constant cycle of demands for her class, her students could not be reached for comment. The students whose other four professors followed the same school of thought were suffering most acutely. Engaged in a cycle of skipping one professor’s class to catch up on another’s assignments, despite already living on four hours of sleep, they appear committed to no cause despite working continuously.
Stressed out about the amount of work he has, Dout now looks back fondly on the times he was stressed out about the amount of work he wasn’t doing and internships he wasn’t applying to. Many of us relate to his never-ending cycle of stress and simply can’t wait for Winter Break so we can enjoy the holidays and also worry about the amount of projects that we are not working on. Until then, “I just hope I can get out of bed in the morning and remember how to order from the Library Cafe,” Dout added. The semester is still young, and there remain an infinite number of ways to burn out.
Ethan Fulton is Senior Opinion Editor and Satire Columnist. Email him at
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