Column: NU students can never catch a break

Column: NU students can never catch a break

Arriving home after my last final on the last day of fall semester 2006, I dropped my heavy school bag on the floor and flopped down on the couch. It was finally time to relax. I turned on the television and waited for the feelings of relief and release. Instead, I felt restless. My legs and hands began twitching and I had to get up and pace around my apartment.

Was it the coffee I’d had earlier? Was it nervousness over my grades? Or was it simply another symptom of what I call, “Northeastern Syndrome”?

After a grueling, nearly impossible semester, and with a full three weeks ahead of me before the next semester began, I should have been kicking my feet up and taking a much-needed nap.

But I couldn’t.

First, I needed to sell my books back, and then run a few errands. Next, I needed to make sure all the forms were in for my new job. I also needed to call my old job in Connecticut to make sure I could work there over winter break.

I couldn’t stop. I couldn’t sit down. Yes, it was a classic case of “Northeastern Syndrome.”

As Northeastern students, we work hard. During the summer, when many college students are lying on the beach, we’re taking summer classes or working full-time on co-op. Over the holidays, when most college students have a month off to hang out in their hometown, we rush home for a few weeks, unwrap our presents and eat some food, then hurry back to Boston to get back to work. While many spend spring break in some tropical locale, a large portion of Northeastern students are unable to go anywhere because they can’t get time off from their co-op jobs.

I am writing this a full week before spring semester classes start, and many Northeastern students I know are already back in Boston. When I asked one of my managers when she was going home for break, she nonchalantly replied, “Well, I’m only going home for a few days, but it doesn’t really matter.” Another friend was in and out of Boston the entire break because she was writing several stories for The Boston Globe. Winter break? What’s winter break?

Most college students live on campus for eight months and spend the rest of their time carrying on their lives as they were before college. When we decided to attend Northeastern, we became full-time students. The older families and residents in the Symphony and Mission Hill areas just can’t seem to get rid of us, even as Chestnut Hill and Commonwealth Avenue begin to quiet down in May or June.

As much as we may complain about never getting a break, it doesn’t really matter. We’ve forgotten how to take a break anyway. I’m not speaking for everyone, but I know that as soon as I’m out of class, I’m on to the next responsibility. Whether I’m heading to work at my part-time job, cleaning my apartment or writing this column, there’s always something that needs to be done.

And when I do have some free time, I don’t know what to do with myself. People say Northeastern students drink a lot. Well, of course we do! If we want to relax on the weekends, we need to be sedated!

What is it that keeps us going, going, going when we should be taking a break? Is it a sense of guilt, a feeling that there must be something else that we really should be doing? Is it our over-developed work ethic? Is it because we, as Northeastern students, are the most driven college students in the country? Hmm, that sounds about right.

Sure, we like to be lazy just like other college students, and we are definitely adept at the art of procrastination. And after the holidays are over, we’ll bitch about going back to class just like every other college student (though for us, the bitching starts a few weeks earlier).

But in reality, I’m sure I’m not alone in feeling some relief mixed in with the impending sense of dread. I suffer from “Northeastern Syndrome,” and I’m ready to get back to work.

– Stephanie Shore can be reached at [email protected]

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