How to Be More Effective with Spring Break for International Students

The University Support team provides a range of services to university students, including staff- and peer-led psychosocial support (virtual and in-person). In addition, the team facilitates events on multiple campuses, leveraging existing students’ connections to build a support system around new students, several of whom come from extremely disadvantaged backgrounds. Campus visits allow for touch points throughout the year, and give students the opportunity to connect with the team and receive counselling where relevant. Thanks to their efforts, the team has seen hundreds of students successfully graduate from college since 2014.

While Spring Break is typically portrayed as a time to get away, party with friends, or spend a long week back home, it is not always the reality for international students, who often remain on campus for the week long break.

Below are our biggest Spring Break tips for university support staff and students alike.

1. Housing

Housing is consistently at the root of break-related challenges. While some university campuses may choose to shut down completely for academic breaks, for a short week such as Spring Break, it is essential that university-provided housing remains an option for those who cannot travel or leave campus. Some universities choose to include moving students into the same building for breaks or using a local network of host families. No matter the decision, it is key that administrators and students are on the same page regarding options and communicate critical deadlines. Students should be aware of all their options, the necessary steps, and complete their housing requests in a timely manner.

2. Food

During Spring Break, while a university may choose to close their typical services, it is important those who remain have access to healthy food, consistently. Some universities have chosen to supplement their regular cafeteria hours and services with a food shelf and dorm kitchens, while others open their cafeteria for truncated hours and offer more to-go meal options. When making a decision for what is best to do for your campus, remember to take into consideration how housing factors into food access. For example, it may be helpful to ask: Will our dining options be able to cater to a dietary restrictions? If our cafeteria were to close, do students have the ability to walk, use public or campus run transportation to get to a grocery store or affordable restaurant? Do students have the ability to cook and store food in their campus provided housing?

3. Campus Opportunities

It is important that students who stay on campus feel that the time during Spring Break was well spent. For each student this may mean something different – working more hours to save up money, binging that Netflix show they have been saving all semester, finding a project or internship to keep them busy. Universities can assist by offering opportunities, such as campus employment specific to the break period or an accelerated internship, and students can highlight the kind of experiences they are looking for while on break.

4. For Fun

It is key to keep students engaged and to offer spaces to connect while on break. Fun activities can take many forms, such as promoting an on-campus meal, hosting a cooking or baking competition, movie night, in-town experience, or exploring volunteer opportunities in the community. Anything that builds the resume is an added bonus!

5. Emotional support

Students need their support system during break just as much as in the semester. Ensuring students have access to wellness services, even if remote, is critical to keeping up a routine, staying engaged, and making the most out of Spring Break.

To schedule an appointment or learn more about University Support, contact us:

Mbali Shange and Sydney Newman

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