The signs come early. The classes suddenly start getting emptier as a couple of people disappear. Professors start giving long-term assignments in class, mentioning the need for academics within the anticipated times of fun. (“But do not forget to relax,” they mention!) Then everywhere people are seen to move with bags as the quad sings the anthem of departure. Facebook statuses of friends change from “waiting to go home” to “going home” to “is at home!” Silence comes down on the hill as the break starts.
The only ones staying discover a different Colgate. The campus when the school’s in session usually gets quieter during the afternoon when the students are resting or taking naps. However, during the break you are very lucky if you happen to see people on the campus, and in the lucky event that a person is spotted, nobody forgets to express greetings. I swear even the number of squirrels on campus dwindle, which might be due to Thanksgiving but most likely they just hibernate due to the alabaster coat that covers the campus! Even the swans are not there in the lake; they have left early.
Then you realize that some places you are so used to are closed. The dining halls, the Coop and the libraries all remained closed during the Thanksgiving break. The classes, jobs, club activities and the plethora of events that crowd your schedule during the session hide. The hours the gym operates get shorter while you have to know the door code if you want to visit a friend in a different dorm because they are locked 24 hours a day.
However, as some wise old man might say, when they are hard-pressed for options, Colgate students get going. Mostly international students and athletes stay at Colgate during the breaks, as expected. Curtis, where I live, has a wholesome population of them.
We were lucky enough to have some home blood as well – a few of them stayed who lived in places like California and Texas. For a lot of us, the break provided more time to chill with friends, watch movies, practice cooking skills together, engage in snowball fights, make snowmen, do the essential and not-so-essential shopping, get cleaning done and if possible, do some work as well. We had visitors as well as friends from other colleges came to see us. Somehow, the sense of community is stronger than ever as everyone sits together for Thanksgiving and is well fed with turkey. Small things like walking on the empty campus without deadlines are better than ever. Maybe the maxim, “Do not underestimate the value of a beautiful campus?” did have some truth in it.
However, idle time passes way faster than you think it would, and before long most of the break is over and the final weeks of classes bring the final hurdles of the semester. People start rushing in as ones and twos and before long, the whole scenario is back to the normal Colgate life that you are so used to. Dorms are packed, and the buzz is back while the Thanksgiving break graciously takes the leave, maybe leaving behind a few memories in the wake.