Tag Archives: vacation

My First Big Girl Vacation

I grew up in the sort of family where we went on one big vacation a year. It always happened coincide with my birthday, something I was NEVER a fan of. My mother would plan the whole thing and we’d get updates throughout the year at dinner. “We’re going to ___________.” A few weeks later…”We’re staying at _____________.” And so on. As we got closer, my mom would start mentioning all the “fun” things we could do in the area. “Oh look, a jazz ensemble will be performing!” While I enjoyed many of the places we went, I couldn’t wait to be the one in charge of planning a vacation where I could do all the things I wanted. (Granted, when I first had this thought I was maybe eight years old so my ideal vacation consisted of an indoor pool and mini golf.)

That time that I have eagerly awaited has finally arrived. I am planning my first REAL vacation. Now before this, I’ve traveled, but it’s been for conferences or I’ve roadtripped somewhere with friends and crashed on someone’s couch or floor. This is the real deal. I need to book flights and hotels and buy tickets for attractions. I’M SO EXCITED!!! I’m planning this vacation with my friends but the good news is that we’re basically all interested in the same things so agreeing on things to do on vacation will be easy.

I’m still using my mom for help…I don’t know how the woman does it but she finds the most ridiculous flight and hotel prices. I’ve never been in the room when she’s made the calls, so who knows, maybe she’s busting out the mafia princess card (if you knew her, you’d totally be laughing at this). And! For the first time, my mom and I actually agree that a non-stop flight makes the most sense. I’ve been saving money for this since around Christmas and thanks to my tax refund, I have enough money to book the trip! I’ll probably do that once I return from my next trip that involves me sleeping on a couch that may or may not have been found on the side of the road. Sigh.

Now that we’ve planned the main parts of the trip (where, when) we have to plan for the little details. We’re flying in from different corners of the country, so ideally our flights will arrive at the airport around the same time. I know that’s wishful thinking with delays and whatnot, but a girl can dream! Also, I need to watch my time off in the next few months so I’ll have enough for this trip. Luckily I know how be crafty with all my different types of leave (personal days, vacation, comp time…).

The best part is going to be sitting down and planning a rough itinerary! There are TONS of fun things to do where we’re going and we will be there during a holiday…tricky tricky!! But seriously, I can barely contain myself. I’m texting my friends about it right now. Not even sorry.

What sort of exciting things do you have for this upcoming year?

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There aren’t too many things I miss about being a grad student. I’m perfectly content with never having to write another paper again. I’m also okay with not having to cram student meetings in between classes and project meetings. Probably the only thing I actually miss is being able to take advantage of school breaks.

Now, I’m not talking about being able to take summers off (although there are many entry level Residence Life positions that are ten month positions), I’m talking about Spring Break and Thanksgiving Break and all these other little days off here and there. I hear students talking about their plans and I just sigh and shake my head.

What I’m really worried about are the winter holidays – Christmas and New Years. We HAVE to have people on call even though we don’t let students live in the halls from December 21st until January 1st…and oh yes, they start returning on January 1st so even though all the offices are closed, I’m going to be working. Joy. So I’ve kind of gotten over the New Year’s thing…but Christmas? I really don’t want to be on call for Christmas. I’m the only professional staff member that is not from the area so I definitely don’t get to see my family as much as the others.

How does your office decide who gets “stuck” with the holidays for on call? Which holidays do you get off?

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TBT – The Worst Trip Home

After Monday’s post, you would think that my first trip home would have been my first visit home my freshman year. Yeah, it was a rough one. But at least during that trip, I was welcomed by the family welcoming committee – my aging black lab and the sounds of my mother’s “new age” music.

Unfortunately, my aging black lab eventually went to the large dog park in the sky. I know not everybody is a dog person, but all you dog people out there will understand when I say that my dog meant just as much to me as any sibling. Eventually I got used to calling my mom and not asking how my dog was. My mom still sounded upset when I talked to her, but to be fair, things were a lot different for her. I wasn’t at home hearing the silence of our house without a collar jingling and claws clicking on the wood floor. I was at school where I never had my dog.

And then I went home for break. Now, I was a very independent child so when my mom went back to work, she didn’t arrange for me to go to daycare or have a sitter. It wasn’t abuse or neglect. It made sense. I would only be home alone for thirty or forty minutes before my dad came home and I had a strict set of rules to follow. So in my mind, I had been staying home alone for ten years. The idea of coming back from school while my parents were at work didn’t phase me.

When I got home, I went in through the garage. Even though it had been a month since my dog had died, it still smelled like dog. It was like nothing had changed…until I opened the door to the kitchen and didn’t get barreled over by 100 pounds of dog. Suddenly it hit me like a ton of bricks. I was truly home alone for the first time in my life. And what did I do? I cried and called my mom. I asked her to leave her job early and drive an hour to come home so I wouldn’t be home alone.

It’s been almost five years since then. I’ve lived completely alone. I’ve gotten a new dog. Now when I go home, I am once again welcomed by a dog and some sort of crazy music that my mom is listening to (she’s been on a Carrie Underwood kick lately). I actually now look forward to trips home.

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This Thanksgiving I’m thankful for several things. I’m thankful that I have a job. I’m thankful my parents took my dog in when said job said I could not bring her with me. And I’m thankful it’s break time and my students are LEAVING. Finally…a few days where I don’t have to pace around the laundry room waiting for a dryer to become available.

But then I almost feel bad for the freshman who are making their first trip home from college. I remember mine. I missed home so bad. I couldn’t wait to be home for A WHOLE WEEK. And then once I got there, I could not wait to leave. I actually made up some lie about a project I had to do and said I could ONLY do it in the studio.

The whole week felt a little like this.

So just like there are stages of grief and stages in student development theories, I have decided that there are stages of vacation time at home. While this is geared more towards students, I think some if it (with a few tweaks here and there) still applies to twentysomethings/adults.

Stage One – Excitement

You probably haven’t even left for home yet. You are counting down the days until break. You’re excited to sleep in your room and eat some home cooked meals and hang out with your friends and sleep in and do nothing all week. This week is gonna be great. You love home. Home home home.

Stage Two – Suddenly Everything Has Changed

You get home and run up to your room to put your things down when suddenly…what are all those boxes doing in the corner? And is that dad’s bill paying desk? And why are there no pillows on your bed?! Whatever, it’s only 7 pm, you’ll deal with that later. You go back downstairs, excited to see what’s for dinner and your parents tell you that they’re going out to dinner. But but but…you wanted mom’s lasagna, not Olive Garden. You cave and decide it’s worth it for the bread sticks. While are dinner with your family (BO-RING!) you text your friends to see what they’re all doing tonight. “Can’t, busy with the fam!” seems to be the standard reply. Okay, okay, you’ll have a boring night in (maybe spend some time searching for pillows) and see your friends after you wake up at like 2 pm and have pancakes.

Stage Three – You Want to Kill EVERYTHING

WHAT IS THAT BLINDING LIGHT? Oh, just your mom flipping on the lights because she needs something in one of those boxes RIGHT NOW. What time is it? Oh, you know, 8 am. And what’s that noise outside? Is that the leaf blower? Come on dad, couldn’t that wait until a reasonable hour? Your mom promises that you can go back to sleep as she tiptoes out of your room but then the next thing you hear is the vacuum. So much for sleep.

Stage Four – One is the Loneliest Number

Your friends are nowhere to be found. Foursquare informs you that they all are over town…at the movies, the mall, grocery shopping…with their boyfriends, girlfriends, siblings, and parents. By the way, where is your family? Your parents went to the grocery store without you. I know, how could they, that could have been a social outing! Your siblings still have friends and live in your hometown since you know they still go to school here. Looks like it’s just you and the internet.

Stage Five – Family Time!

Remember that family that you missed in stage four? Well you don’t need to worry about that anymore because now they’re all home and guess what? So are twenty of their relatives! That’s right, it’s time for Thanksgiving dinner. Now you have to spend the next six hours pretending that you love every single minute of college and are really working hard for that education your Citibank loans are paying for.

Stage Six – Now They Want Things

Ahhh…the relatives are gone and you have two days left of break. NOW you’ll be able to see your friends and relax. No, no, that’s not happening. You need to clean up after Thanksgiving and while you’re at it, take some of that crap from your room to the basement, your parents need more room for storage. And what do you mean you want to hang out with your friends? There’s only two days left of break, you need to spend more time for your family. Right now you’re probably about to scream…

Stage Seven – GET ME OUT OF HERE!!

You can’t stand it anymore. You wonder if it’s possible to sneak out and hitch a ride back to school. Are any of your friends leaving tonight? You can’t possibly wait until morning. You better pack your bags in case it gets to be too much to handle and you need to leave in the middle of the night.

Stage Eight – Homecoming

You finally get back to college and you’re thisclose to dropping to your knees and kissing your uncarpeted dorm floor. As you unpack, your roommate gets back and starts raving about how terrible her Thanksgiving was. You are not alone.

It almost feels a little something like this.

So fear not college students, you have a few more weeks of college living until…Winter Break.

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Ahhh…that wonderful moment when your benefits kick in. Ladies and gentlemen, I am proud to announce that I am an insured individual with vacation time!

This is quite a strange concept to me…paid time off. Part of me isn’t too sure what to do with it. I mentioned in a previous post that we have a mighty strange holiday schedule. I kind of want to take some days around Christmas off so I can spend the time with my family. Also, if you request (and get approved) for the time off, it’s kind of like “Oh, they are taking the day off too, so they definitely can’t be on call”. But what happens if I don’t have enough time off accrued by then? Is taking unpaid time off a thing?

I also don’t know the rate at which I accrue time off…I’m sure it’s printed somewhere in an employee manual and that I can look it up and start calculating stuff. I know it is printed in our pay stubs, so I guess I’ll just check next week!

And now the fun part…thinking about what I want to do with this paid time off. If we don’t use it, we lose it. One of my friends took a week off just because she was about to lose the time and chose to just hang out at home. My friends from undergrad are scattered across the country…maybe I’ll travel to places I’ve never been before!

What are some places I should check out on a student affairs type of budget?

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