Alternative Spring Break: 11 Reasons To Do It

Alternative Spring Break: 11 Reasons To Do It

Skip the beach, do some service work, and still make memories to last a life time

At the University of Iowa, there is a 3 hour credit course offered in the Spring semester called "Alternative Spring Break". If you are a student at the University of Iowa, you may have heard about it through University emails advertising it, or maybe a friend has participated. If you aren't from the University of Iowa, it's possible your college offers a similar experience.

Alternative Spring Break at the U of Iowa consists of a lecture and discussion that takes place for two hours one night a week. When you apply and if you are admitted, you are carefully placed into a service trip group that reflects your interests and passions. For me, I was placed into The Arts– which happened to be my first choice. Your service trip group is the people you sit with in lecture and have a discussion section with– and will also become some of the best people you get to know while at college, trust me.

I could go on for days about why I recommend participating in an Alternative Spring Break program, but I'm limiting myself to just 11 of the best reasons from my perspective:


Okay, so let's be real. You get three semester hours with this experience. You only have to go to class for half the semester and you have only five assignments, which are all reflection. The rest of your points come from going on the trip and participating. It's an easy grade for a life changing experience.

2. It costs like $80 to go on

It's seriously only $80 to go on a trip to a random city that is within 16 hours of campus. That's it. The University pays for everything else– unless you want to buy random things like souvenirs. Anyways, you can't put a money value on the experience you would have on the trip– IT'S PRICELESS.

3. You meet and get to know beautiful people

The people that are assigned to the same group as you will probably be strangers and will stay strangers up until you leave for the trip. While you are on the trip and literally stuck with those people– that's when you get to know one another. You bond, share stories, create inside jokes, reflect, share your secrets and insecurities with those people– you can quite literally learn everything there is to know about these people. It doesn't matter if you are introverted or extroverted– you develop a love and respect for one another– if you are lucky and have an amazing group of people like I did.

4. You get to go somewhere you may have never been or would ever want to go to

I got to go to Detroit. Honestly, I never had a desire to go to Detroit and did not know much about the city other than what I read in the news. After going on the trip I desperately want to go back. You too could get to go somewhere you may wouldn't want to go either and fall in love with that place. Who knows, you could also get to go somewhere you've always wanted to go.

5. You learn about the history and culture of that city– as well as a societal issue that is important to that city, and all cities in the US.

The class is a service learning class. This means the purpose of the class is to learn about societal issues that impact lives of people in your specific city and cities across the nation. This class would teach you how to be aware of these societal issues and educate you on how to respond and reflect on them. Speaking and learning about societal issues that don't relate to you can be hard, in addition to feeling like you have a proper perspective or right to be speaking about them. This program gives you an opportunity to work on your skills of creating a dialogue and contributing to discussion about societal issues that are impactful and foreign to you. This is VERY important to learn and do in today's society.

6. How to be an active citizen

It is a big thing in college to volunteer. At U of Iowa I know many people volunteer at the University Hospital, which is awesome and amazing that students are dedicating their time a few hours a week to that; however, that isn't being an active citizen. This class will teach you how to be an impactful citizen that can contribute to change for the better in your community by learning the differences between a volunteer, citizen, and active citizen, which is something we should all be aware of.

7. Pushes you out of your comfort zone

Unless you are an extremely extroverted person, going on a trip with 15 strangers to a city you may have never been to is intimidating. Going on this trip will push you out of your comfort zone and challenge you. If you are looking for a way to put yourself out there in your college community, this is a perfect opportunity.

8. Memories

This trip lasts six days, two of those being travel days. Six days of uninterrupted time with a group of people. There is no such thing as "me time" on this trip. The only thing closest to "me time" is when you are showering and sleeping. That's it. The concept can be daunting, but it is one of the best parts of the trip. It forces you to have six days of nonstop talking, interactions, and memories that are being made.

9. The people you meet in your desired city while on the trip

Again, this trip is for service. You serve with nonprofit organizations while on the trip. The people you meet are people that either spend their professional lives or simply volunteer their free time working and serving with nonprofit organizations. The people I was fortunate to have met are easily some of the most beautiful, selfless, creative, passionate and extraordinary people I have ever met. I came back from the trip so determined and inspired to be better and more involved in my community, you could too.

10. (The most important reason) The service work

This is the most rewarding and most impactful part of the trip. Serving with the numerous organizations while on the trip will give you exposure to just how impactful volunteering and serving can be. One of the biggest questions I had while on the trip was "Is what I'm doing even making a difference?" My response to that question since serving is this: Little things add up, especially when in large numbers. My group and I were able to accomplish work in one day that could have taken those organizations multiple days or weeks to complete. Nonprofits are typically run on reliance from volunteers– taking the time to volunteer and learn about their organizations and why they are important to the community was beautiful and inspiring.

11. It will literally change your life.

The Alternative Spring Break program is designed so that you will get out of it what you put in. If you keep an open mind and are willing to participate, I guarantee you will have a positive experience. My trip quite literally changed my life. I was lost before going on my service trip. I had just switched majors and the life plan I thought I had no longer existed. This trip has inspired me to look into pursuing a career in nonprofit work. You too could get something out of the trip you weren't expecting and it could change your life.

Popular Right Now

Why Nursing School Is Different Than Any Other Major

Because most other majors can't kill someone accidentally by adding wrong.

College is hard. Between studying for numerous amounts of tests and balancing eating, working out, maintaining a social life, and somehow not breaking your bank account, it’s no wonder a common conversation among students is “how many mental breakdowns did you have this week?” Every major will pose its own challenges; that’s truth. Nursing school, however, is a special kind of tough that only other nursing majors can understand.

SEE ALSO: Quit Bashing Radford University

Nurses are the backbone and unsung hero of healthcare. Their job is to advocate for the patient, collaborate care among all other healthcare team members, carry out physician orders, recognize and report patient progress (or lack thereof), run interference for the patient with any unwanted visitors, research and validate evidence based practice, all while maintaining a certain aurora of confidence for patients and their loved ones that “everything will be okay” and “I’ve got this under control”. If that sounds like a lot; that’s because it is. The majority of skills that we learn that make good nurses cannot actually be taught in theory classes. It’s the hours of actual practice and a certain knack for caring for people- all people- that makes a good nurse great. The countless, unrelenting hours that are spent on the floor in clinical humble us, we know that we’re not great yet, but we’re trying.

Our professors expect us to be humble as well. Nurses do not seek gold stars for their actions, instead the precedence that is set for us to that we “do the right thing because it is the right thing to do”. Most nursing programs grading scales are different. To us, a failing grade isn’t actually getting a 69 or lower, it’s an 80. And that makes sense; no one would want a nurse who only understand 70% of what is happening in the body. We have to understand the normal body response, what happens when things go wrong, why it happens the way it does, and how to properly intervene. We want to learn, it interests us, and we know that the long theory classes and the hard days on the floor are just to make us better. However, any triumph, anytime you do well, whatever small victory that may feel like for you, it just what is supposed to happen- it’s what is expected, and we still have much to learn.

I look back on my decision to take on nursing school, and I often find myself questioning: why? There are so many other majors out there that offer job security, or that help people, or would challenge me just as much. But, when I think of being a nurse- it’s what fulfills me. There’s something that the title holds that makes me feel complete (and that same fact is going to resonate with anyone who wants to love their job). I wouldn’t change the decision I made for anything, I love what I am learning to do and I feel that it’s part of what makes me who I am. The other students who I have met through nursing school are some of the most amazing people I have ever come into contact with, and the professors have helped me understand so much more about myself than I thought possible.

Nursing is treating and understanding the human response. Meaning that it’s not just the disease process, or the action of the medication, or the care that we provide, but that nurses treat the way in which people deal, react, feel, and cope with good news, bad news, terrible procedures, hospital stays and being completely dependent on other people. And the fact of the matter is that all people are different. There is no one magic treatment that will always work for every patient. In addition to course work, the clinical hours, the passion and drive to want to be a nurse, and the difficulty that comes with any medical profession, we have to understand each individual patient, as people and not their illness. And, in order to do that so much self discovery goes on each day to recognize where you are and how you are coping with everything coming your way.

What is taught in nursing school goes far beyond just textbook information or step by step procedures. We have to learn, and quickly, how to help and connect with people on a level which most struggle to accomplish in a lifetime. It's a different kind of instruction, and it either takes place quickly or not at all. The quality of nurse you become depends on it. Nursing school is different, not harder or better than any other school, just different.

SEE ALSO: Stop Putting Down Radford University

Cover Image Credit:

Related Content

Connect with a generation
of new voices.

We are students, thinkers, influencers, and communities sharing our ideas with the world. Join our platform to create and discover content that actually matters to you.

Learn more Start Creating

Body Image Lessons That I Didn't Learn From A Professor

What I realized about body image my freshman year of college


Girls usually struggle with self image in general. But the game changes when it's time to go to college. When you are constantly surrounded by your peers, you begin to compare all of the little things they do to you. You compare their bodies to yours. You try to figure out what they are doing that you're not. Or vice versa, why they don't have to do anything to look the way they do. But by the end of my first year, I realized that I would never be happy with myself if I kept thinking this way. So I recorded some realizations I had throughout the year that helped me to improve my body image.

My body is, and never will be the same as any other girl... and that's okay

Different sized and shaped strawberries

It can be so easy in college to compare your body to the girls that surround you. Like the one's live with and you see on a daily basis. There is no point in comparing apples to oranges, so why would you compare your body to a girl who was made completely different? So what you can't fit into her party pants, you can rock another pair just as well.

What works for her, might not work for me

Daily Planner

With different body types, comes different food and exercise needs. Some girls don't need to work out or eat healthy to keep a slim frame. Some girls are naturally muscular. Your routine needs to be catered to you, and there is no need to analyze what someone else eats or does to try to attain their stature. You have to do what feels right for YOUR body to have a good self image.

Don't spend too much time on istagram

Obviously social media effects our body image because of how easily and frequently photos are edited and then presented for the most likes. So if there is a certain account that always makes you feel bad when you see their content, unfollow, and take that aspect out of your life. However, because social media is unavoidable you can't completely escape all the provoking images. So when scrolling, think positively about those who's pictures you see, don't compare, and be aware of the previous lessons.

It's okay for your body to fluctuate

The weight and look of your body can easily fluctuate, It's just natural. And in the same way your life fluctuates, your body may follow along and thats not a big deal! In exam season, there might not be enough time to go to the gym everyday. Or during the holidays there might be an increase of indulgence in treats. But its all okay as long as your getting things done or enjoying life. The only time it becomes an issue if the fluctuations turn unhealthy.

Cut out the negativity

If a friend is constantly complaining to you about their body, it can trigger distress in you, and set you back. So if someone else's body image issues are interfering with you mentally, you need to call them out on their B.S. or stop allowing them say those things in front of you.

Wear clothes that you feel comfortable in

If you wear things that you feel comfortable in, then you wont constantly be thinking about how your stomach, legs, or arms look throughout the day. Wear something that you are confident in, even if it means wearing leggings every day of the week!

I'm not a little kid anymore, therefore my body is not going to look like one

Curves and changes that come after high school can take anyone by surprise, but it's supposed to happen. You can't really be mad at can only find the beauty in it.

Everyone has their own insecurities

Even if someone has your ideal body, odds are they still despise theirs. I have met friends in college that are stick skinny, yet are self conscious about it. I know curvy girls that are very insecure. And even an "average" body type has a thousand things that they nit-pick about themselves. No one has their dream body and never will, which is why I had to learn to love the little things about mine.

Related Content

Facebook Comments