It’s a fairly common experience to find oneself at a loose end over spring break, struggling to fill your calendar with something other than studying, all the while surrounded by apparent jetsetters. Especially in St Andrews, the various vacation destinations are exotic and consequentially expensive. If, like myself, you were unprepared for a spontaneous trip abroad and are fortunate enough to have grandparents still around, I would highly recommend taking advantage of the opportunity to stay with them for a few days over the holiday.
There are numerous reasons for this; primarily, food. The cliché of grandmothers constantly foisting snacks, tray bakes and second helpings upon visitors is actually a pretty accurate stereotype and being encouraged to eat hearty home cooked meals every evening is a treat, especially after the questionable quality of student cuisine. Moreover, if you need to keep studying during this time, constant cups of tea will probably be on offer!
Another excellent reason of course is financial; if the budget won’t stretch to European jaunt, staying with relatives generally saves money and is a cost-effective way of nonetheless leaving the bubble. It is basically novelty combined with normality; some escapism from university life escapism, yet still offering the comfort of the familiar without the routineness of home.
Moving on from these more mercenary motivations, the major benefit of visiting your grandparents is absolutely the company. In my experience, people of older generations are really interesting to chat to and it’s wonderful to spend some quality time with people that genuinely love you very much, and who you possibly see less than your immediate family. Conversation was stimulating, especially considering the constant Brexit updates that plagued late March and despite the occasional divided opinion, affection was always tangible.
Therefore, a sojourn chez grandparents often means that one can return to town refreshed and ready to tackle the remainder of the semester. But it doesn’t require you to miss out on the social side of spring break, as the visit can be as long or short as you want and as often as not you can invite others to join you (after all, someone will have to help you eat your way through all the homebaking). I made the rather bold decision to suggest that my boyfriend came to stay with my relatives and all things considered it was a brilliant time (it must be noted that he coped admirably with the broad Ayrshire accents) and I’m very grateful to my lovely grandparents for hosting us.
So although it’s not for everyone- I know that I am really fortunate in having living grandparents that I am close with emotionally and, crucially, geographically- visiting extended family is a great way to spend spring break; the sumptuous food, financial advantages and top-notch company make it well-worthwhile, even if you do arrive back in St Andrews a little heavier than when you left…