Despite the existence of an urban center just miles away from campus, students at Georgetown don’t seem to frequent movies, concerts, museums and plays as much as you might expect. In fact, a majority of the people here barely seem to get off campus more than once a week, if that. In short, the cultural events that arts and leisure sections of newspapers typically cover carry little relevance to the actual “lives of leisure” that a large number of students here actually lead.
But before anyone can really understand the “leisure” time of students they have to consider the “non-leisure” time, which for most consists of some type of “work.” And for most Georgetown students, the “work” is considerable. First, there’s school; this University is known for its academic reputation enough so that it only accepts top-notch applicants but not enough so that it can award good grades without making students prove to the very last day that they deserve them. Students here seem to work all the time. I’m almost certain that there are two or three people who actually live on the second floor of Lauinger, and the fact that you may know who I’m talking about has got to tell you something about your own all-too-regular appearances there.
On top of school work, a large percentage of students either have part-time jobs to make money (or just get ahead) or participate heavily in an on-campus activity. In short, people here are incredibly driven and consequently, frighteningly busy. It’s part of the culture on campus??maybe it’s what attracted you to this school, and maybe it’s even what made you hesitate to come. But either way, the general intensity of the student body at Georgetown is a fact of life; people here work hard. But they play hard too.
So when a professor congratulates you for getting through a big midterm and then tells you to make sure to have a good weekend, the correlation seems only natural: I worked hard, now I get to play hard. The spring break comments are even more blatant. “Don’t go too crazy,” they say with a smile, or “enjoy your vacation of hedonism”(yeah, I actually got that one this week). And the most common, “have fun, you deserve it.” In other words, you’ve done an unnatural amount of work for however long; and in the process, you’ve probably had to give up other parts of life, including time with friends and opportunities to maybe experience the “finer things in life” (a.k.a. art, film, music, etc). In fact, you might not have even been able to fully expericence the not-so-finer things (a.k.a. partying) due to the recent action taken by Metro and DPS officers to cut down on underage drinking, which is sadly one of the only pleasures many students look forward to after a week of hard work.
But now that it’s over??the work, the stress, the constant police surveilance??take advantage. You have all of one week to gain back what you’ve lost??sleep, relaxation and general sanity. But you only have a week. And you’re in college. And you just had five midterms. And you’re in a foreign country that’s virtually lawless. The more obvious, or at least more common approach??craziness.
Now not everyone chooses this route. There are those who prefer a less extreme lifestyle; instead of working too hard, they balance it out with a little play and when midterms are over, the need to let loose isn’t so intense that it demands total insanity. Then there’s those who just leave out the work-hard part, convinced that college is really only for playing hard. And then of course there’s the few who go the opposite way. They think the best way to gain back school-week sanity is not to go crazy, but to become more civilized. They’re the ones who do frequent theatres and museums and concert halls.
But these people seem to be few and far between here. Even if they do exist in mass numbers, their voices seem muted by the overwhelming loudness of the other half of the population, the half that chooses the more eye-catching craziness that professors and students alike consider “normal.” Unfortunately, the fact that it’s perceived as “normal” just makes it more so: Professors think students like to “let loose” during break and push up midterms so they won’t forget the material. Suddenly, the average student has 3 papers the week before break and feels an even greater need to “let loose” when they’re done, further perpetuating the cycle. On a broader scale, the administration thinks students spend too much time partying, so they come up with ideas like creating more Friday classes in order to shorten the weekend and assigning work sanctions to those caught drinking. But the time required to finish the added work and get through the longer week just causes more stress, which, in the end, only results in more time partying, more excessive drinking and less time going to museums and theatres.
So again, the obvious solution??craziness. And if it still doesn’t seem the obvious choice?the best option given our circumstances?just look around. It’s an attitude nurtured by the general atmosphere on campus and created by administrators, DPS officers and nature of the students here. Moreover, it’s considered entirely acceptable behavior and even encouraged to a certain extent. Aside from the support of parents and professors, there’s the existence of companies entirely devoted to providing college students with direct access to these so-called “vacations of hedonism.” And all the better, because we deserve it. Right?