We’ll be on spring break soon and there’s a pretty good chance that most of your friends from high school are not. Instead of being the only person in your hometown for the week, your time off might be best spent visiting your friends at other schools. So if you decide to visit friends at other colleges on spring break, you may want to keep a few things in mind.
When it comes to seeing friends, the first thing you’ll have to work out is transportation. If you’re planning on driving, think about carpooling and splitting gas money. Driving time can be divided among the occupants of the car, especially on longer trips. Having a companion or two can make a long ride a lot easier. But if you’re considering public transportation, taking a bus may be your best bet.
A bus trip can be expensive no matter the time or destination, but during a popular travel time, trips on most lines will cost a pretty penny. Unfortunately, spring break season is one of those times. In this case, the earlier you buy your bus ticket, the cheaper it will be.
And if your plans are spontaneous or suddenly change, don’t worry. There are certain bus lines that are a bit discounted.
“I always take the Bolt bus, whenever I’m going somewhere that it services,” said Marley Gonzalez, a sophomore majoring in theater. “I go to Boston to see my friends at Boston College a few times a year, and I’ll take the bus from the city to Boston. It gets there pretty quick, and I’ve never paid over $40 for a trip, even if I’m going at the last minute.”
It may be wise to take public transportation from a big city to another big city. Binghamton buses really only service New York, Albany, Ithaca, Syracuse and Rochester. And our trains are essentially non-existent. So if you are planning on going to Boston, Philadelphia or Washington, D.C., among other places, consider starting your journey in another metropolitan area.
Another important thing to keep in mind is that your friends are not on vacation. They may have exams to study for, papers to write and classes to attend.
“I got really bored when I visited during the week,” Gonzalez said. “They were all still in class, and I just sat in their rooms all day. Sometimes they couldn’t go out at night because they had homework. I was thinking, ‘Why am I here?’”
Also, be respectful of your host’s study habits. Try not to make them ditch class or skip studying in order to entertain you. If your host wants to incorporate you into their study routine, go with it. Katie McCartney, a freshman majoring in pharmacy at the University of Connecticut, got a visit from two friends who were on break.
“They came to a lecture with me,” McCartney said. “It wasn’t a big deal.”
McCartney said that at her school, guests are allowed to observe classes. However, in Binghamton, it largely depends on the professor and the class size. So make sure you know the policies about sitting in on your friends’ classes before you go to visit. But ask yourself if you really want to spend your spring break sitting in more classrooms?
If you intend to just visit over a weekend, be prepared to see the best and worst sides of the school you are visiting. Nicole Bardabelias, a sophomore majoring in physics at Cornell University, usually schedules her guests to come on the nights when she knows they will experience the best parties.
“I’ll take them out and have them meet all my friends and then we’ll go to Hot Truck for drunk food,” Bardabelias said. “It is the ultimate CU party experience.”
When you’re visiting other schools, you can expect to see different dorms, different campuses and different college towns, as well as experience different ways of celebrating the weekend and meet a ton of different people. After being absorbed in the Binghamton culture for so long, the step outside may be like visiting a foreign country. Take it in and enjoy it, but remember to be respectful of your surroundings.
“I think the worst guest is a rude one,” Bardabelias said. “If the host is going out of their way to be nice, put you up for a night and pay for you, you should show them some respect.”
That includes getting way too drunk and acting belligerent or getting sick. You represent the school you are coming from and the friend you are visiting. Inconveniencing your friend and making a bad first impression is the very best way to ruin that reputation.
“You should have fun when you’re visiting people, but you’re a guest. Don’t make a fool out of yourself,” said Ellaine Ho, a freshman at Binghamton University majoring in philosophy, politics and law. “Don’t be rude either. Use common courtesy. Ask for permission to use stuff.”
Gonzalez also adds that you should make an effort to help your hosts. After all, they’re letting you stay with them.
“I hate when people come and visit me and they’re broke,” Gonzalez said. “Offer to take them out to dinner one night. Chip in for snacks and drinks. Clean up after yourself. They’ll appreciate it.”