After four straight weeks of classes defined by a gloomy winter and limited social interaction, this past Tuesday and Wednesday delivered warm weather and a much-needed break for students as they enjoyed time off from classes during Cornell’s Wellness Days.
With the spring semester well underway, students have faced the stress of academic coursework, COVID health concerns and Ithaca weather, all of which have created a uniquely challenging — and isolating — experience for students on campus. With no spring break this semester, the University’s designated Wellness Days offered a temporary distraction from these concerns for some students, many spending their time off soaking up the Ithaca sunshine and basking on Libe Slope.
Alfredo Con ’24, a student new to campus after completing the fall semester remotely, said that he has already found his time at Cornell to be isolating.
However, he felt that Cornell’s Wellness Days gave him a change of pace as he participated in the University-sponsored Winter Days on the Arts Quad — an event brimming with outdoor activities, giveaways, snacks and fire pits.
“I’ve kind of been stuck indoors all day with all the cold weather and snow, but it was liberating to have the Wellness Days and nice weather,” Con said. “I could finally go outside and meet people and have fun with my friends.”
Like Con, other students used their Wellness Days to enjoy and relax under the Ithaca sun with friends.
“It’s good to spend some time where your day isn’t just waking up, going to your classes online in your dorm and doing work in your dorm,” said Ethan Lodge ’23. “It gave me a good excuse to get out and go for a walk and enjoy spring.”
Like Lodge, Vanessa Leal-Vazquez ’23, who is juggling a 21-credit workload this semester, was able to take a step away from her academic work and enjoy a warm day on West Campus with a few of her friends.
“I really needed those Wellness Days because the week before I was really burnt out,” Leal-Vazquez said. “The weekends don’t feel like they are enough anymore, because I am just constantly doing work, so a break was nice.”
While many students used the Wellness Days as a break from academic work, some worry that the break might have caused them to fall further behind in their courses.
“I think I made it worse for myself by choosing not to do any of my lectures that I was behind on,” said Nick Vanden Berk ’23. “But I still felt like I deserved a break, and now I am kind of mad at myself for causing all the stress that I am about to have.”
Despite his worries, Berk said that he surprisingly enjoyed his days off as he was able to walk around campus and explore the scenery with friends.
Similarly, Justice Hoff ’24, said he was surprised by how much he enjoyed his Wellness Days as he spent time exploring the Cornell Botanic Gardens.
“My Wellness Days were more well utilized than I expected them to be,” Hoff said. “I used the weather to explore more of what the Ithaca area has to offer. I used it to relax safely with friends in a much needed period during the semester.”