Opinion | Debate and Disney: Vignettes from spring break


Photo courtesy of Delilah Bourque | Senior Staff Columnist

Inside the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum in Boston.

By The Pitt News Staff

Julia Kreutzer, Staff Columnist


While it seems all of my friends spent their breaks indulging in snacks by the pool or exploring exotic travel destinations, my spring break reverted me back to my prime form: high school speech and debate competitions.

In high school, I spent weekend after weekend competing in various events at an assortment of tournaments. Now, with all of the wisdom of a second-semester first year, I am apparently qualified to judge the very students whom I competed against just months ago. I spent four of my seven days of break sitting in classrooms, analyzing argument after argument made by the most talented competitors in the state.

It may not have been the reprieve from the stress that most people associate with spring break, but it was bizarrely cathartic. Would I rather have been sipping a slushy in some tropical climate? Surely. But getting to revisit my old stomping grounds helped me recognize just how much my first year of college has changed me.

I’m more mature. I’m more educated. I’m more prepared to take on any challenge, whether that be remembering how to drive after months of relying on Port Authority or determining which 15-year-old made a more convincing argument about the state of Venezuelan politics.


Delilah Bourque, Senior Staff Columnist


For my spring break, I treated myself to a five-day trip to one of my favorite cities: Boston. A good friend of mine attends Boston University, which had break the same week as Pitt.

Boston has great museums and attractions, and I got to see lots of them. My favorite was the Isabella Stewart Gardner Museum, which displays the vast collection of art gathered by its namesake, an early 20th century philanthropist. The museum contains a gorgeous indoor courtyard, where plants and flowers were lush and green even in the 30-degree Boston weather.

The Boston Museum of Fine Arts is currently running a special exhibit on Frida Kahlo and her relationship with indigenous Mexican art, called arte popular, which was fascinating. The MFA showcased some of Kahlo’s own art, parts of her arte popular collection and pieces by other artists in the movement.

Boston also has an amazing food scene, and I bankrupted myself on fresh pasta, authentic Irish food and sweets from the Boston location of chef Christina Tosi’s Milk Bar. I also got to experience Eataly, a massive Italian grocery and restaurant in Boston’s Prudential Center.

I could not have asked for a better spring break location. Though tropical destinations like Florida and Punta Cana are favorites for college students on break, my foray into Boston was unforgettable.


Ana Altchek, Staff Columnist


Upon arriving in Florida for spring break, my phone inexplicably lost service for the next six days. After a week of strenuous midterms, this was the last thing I wanted to spend time worrying about.

While I was initially concerned, the problem turned out to be exactly what I needed. My next few days were full of utter relaxation as a result of being completely disconnected from everyone else.

When I arrived in Fort Lauderdale, I stayed with four friends for the first five days, sharing one full-sized bed for the duration of the trip due to a strict budget. Upon our departure, the condition of our room may have been slightly compromised. Nonetheless, since we never returned to our room before 3 a.m., we surprisingly managed to sleep soundly each night.

We spent our time together at the beach, exploring different areas and surviving on granola bars and iced coffees from the Starbucks next door. Throughout the trip, I was entirely focused on maximizing my own experience, and didn’t spend time comparing it to anyone else’s on social media.

After my fifth day with my friends, I visited my grandmother in Delray Beach. Not only was I glad to be reunited with her, but I was rather content — and certainly ready — to sleep in my own bed, eat a home-cooked meal and give my inflamed skin a break from the beating sun.

By the time I arrived back home, I had completely forgotten about my phone issues, and was brought back to reality with a surplus of notifications from my email and text messages. What began as a catastrophic nightmare actually turned into an unforgettable adventure — and a much needed break. In fact, I encourage everyone to start their next vacation by turning their phone off — it’s worth it.


Devi Ruia, Staff Columnist


Feeling exhausted and a little defeated right after finishing up a Comparative Politics midterm, I left campus and headed for the Pittsburgh International Airport. One uneventful flight later, I was able to shed my jacket and sweatshirt for jeans and a T-shirt, trading the snow on the ground in Pittsburgh for the humidity of Orlando, Florida.

One of my best friends from back home is interning at Walt Disney World this semester, working in attractions at the Rock ‘n’ Roller Coaster Starring Aerosmith ride in Hollywood Studios. He invited me and a couple of our other friends to spend half of our spring break down there with him. My mood immediately shifted once I was around friends whom I hadn’t seen in months, especially in warm and sunny Orlando.

We stayed up late many nights watching Food Network and spent our days waking up early to visit the various theme parks in Florida. Nothing made me feel more relaxed and like a kid than reexploring Disney with my friends, although the highlight of the trip was definitely going to Universal Studios Florida and checking out The Wizarding World of Harry Potter.

I was almost reluctant to head back home to Washington, D.C., after five days of 80 degree weather, although getting to see my dog (and also family, I suppose) was incentive enough to go back. Now I’m hoping that maybe Pitt won’t be quite so cold in the month-long stretch leading up to finals — but I know it’s not going to match the fantastic Florida weather anytime soon.


Grace McGinness, Staff Columnist


We all know that trying to plan a time for a group of old friends to get together is like completing advanced trigonometry when you barely passed basic algebra. For spring break, I languished for six hours on a bus to get to my hometown of Havertown and see my high school squad.

Since high school graduation, each of us has bustled off to different universities to prepare for a broad spectrum of careers, but we still love each other to bits and pieces and we try our hardest to still get together every break.

It hardly ever works out.

That’s adult life. You only get to see your friends once every six months for a few enjoyable days, then back to work. Usually for spring break, I would come home to catch dinner with one friend and then talk until 4 a.m., briefly text with those who aren’t home and hope that this time that plans won’t fall through and everyone can come together.

This year the stars finally aligned. Across from Philadelphia’s 69th Street Transportation Center, there’s an Asian market called H Mart with a food court on the second level that has our favorite bubble tea shop. During spring break, we spent five hours there, chattering about every little thing that’s happened that we missed. We banged on the tables laughing, lamented our current studies and shared chocolate cake. It wasn’t a crazy, sun-soaked beach vacation of a break, but it made me happy.