Julia Nagel/Sun Photography Editor

This December, several students opted to stay in Ithaca during winter break, saying they enjoyed having time to themselves and exploring the city.

February 1, 2023

Students Keep it Local For Winter Break

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Winter break offers students time to relax and recuperate ahead of the spring semester. While most students left Ithaca in December — either to go home or elsewhere — a few opted to stay over break.

Kristan Nail ’23 recently moved to Ithaca permanently after transferring to Cornell her junior year. She is one of many students that stayed in Ithaca over the break. Despite having to endure the cold weather, she said she enjoyed spending time in a quieter Ithaca. 

“I see a lot of people every day during the semester and usually have a lot of extracurriculars that take up my time,” Nail said. “While I’m here, I get to experience Cornell and Ithaca without all the chaos and see this place as the place I live and not just the place I go to school at.”

Nail noted that while she sometimes found it difficult to fill her free days, she used her abundance of time and energy to pick up new skills and hobbies. She took a winter class, learned how to cook healthier meals, began a fitness challenge and cat-sat for her friend.

“It was a very relaxing break, and I’m glad I got to spend some time by myself to work on myself and recover from how stressful and populated Cornell usually is,” Nail said.

Ally Bauer ’24 spent winter break exploring Ithaca with her friends. She said that she and her roommates went on nature walks for fun, including at the Mulholland Wildflower Preserve, where she had never been before. Bauer also noted that she went to The Gallery, a donut shop downtown, for the first time. 

For some, such as Wanru Zang grad, going home was not an option. 

Originally from China, Zang said that the journey home was too far to make. Although she spent most of her time in Ithaca, she also had the opportunity to travel to California and Cancun with friends. While in Ithaca, Zang discovered some new spots for leisure, including the squash court at Cornell’s Law School. 

Zang also noted that staying in Ithaca made it easier for her to transition into the new semester. 

“Staying in Ithaca helps [me] to focus on [my] own business. For example, I prepared for my courses this semester during winter break, which might help me to start the new semester easily,” Zang said.

Another student who stayed in Ithaca was Suhail Vawda grad, who is originally from South Africa. Instead of traveling home, he chose to remain in Ithaca over the break to do research and spend some time alone. 

“Surprisingly, there were lots of other students who stayed behind as well,” Vawda said. “I met up with friends and colleagues almost daily.” 

Vawda added that he and his friends enjoyed lunches, dinners and game nights for fun. On warmer days, they walked around campus and Ithaca.

“It is important to maintain a community, especially over the breaks. If one stays behind, one should reach out to others to ensure that nobody is completely lonesome,” Vawda said. “Having that sort of community over the winter break made it a very enjoyable time, as you can enjoy the solitude as well as socialize regularly.”