Whether you spend your study days on the beach or in the library, make the most of the next 48 hours
Associate Scene Editor
It's that time of year again. For weeks you've been keeping a tally of how many classes are left. You've agonized over final papers and projects, and you've glared out the window with envy as your friends snoozed on the quad.
But now classes are finally over and your time has come, for in a rare moment of compassion, the administration has seen fit to grant you a reprieve before the hellish week of finals. Sure, they may intend some actual academic behavior to occur during these alleged "study days." But you know better.
This is the last hurrah, the final nights to cut loose before you empty your brain into blue book after blue book and then pack up everything you own into identical white ND boxes. These are your study days, and you are ready for them.
But where to go? What to do? Thursday and Friday stretch out in front of you, beautiful blank pages just waiting to be filled. Make them zany and borderline illegal; make them restful and relaxing. Whatever you do, make the most of them.
Sweet Home Chicago
In the infamous words of Jake and Elwood: "It's 106 miles to Chicago. We got a full tank of gas, half a pack of cigarettes, it's dark and we're wearing sunglasses. Hit it."
And why shouldn't you? Chi-town is the perfect study days escape — close enough to make a day trip, yet far enough from Mishawaka's cornfields to feel like another world. Breathe in that city air and the skyline as you approach the city, and that bio final will somehow seem insignificant.
Spring is arguably the best time of year to visit Chicago. The fountains are back on in Grant Park, the breeze off Lake Michigan is just cool enough and the bright lights of Navy Pier as just begging you to come run around like a giddy 6-year-old in an amusement park.
If you really can't get out of the academic frame of mind, at least have some fun with it. Chicago's museum offerings are as good as any study guide. For anthropology, you've got an Egyptian tomb, the man-eating lions of Tsavo and the bones of the biggest Tyrannosaurus Rex ever discovered, all at the Field Museum. For biology, you can't beat the world's largest indoor aquarium (the Shedd) or the mammoth Museum of Science and Industry, where you can walk through a giant heart or watch baby chickens being born. That should practically be extra credit.
And lest arts and letters majors feel left out, there's always the Art Institute. You can wander through the endless galleries for hours, or at least until you find a school group for you, Cameron and Sloane to hold hands with and latch onto.
If museums bore you to death even more than engineering homework, take yourself out to the ballgame. The White Sox play away on Thursday and Friday, but the Cubs have afternoon games both days, against Los Angeles and San Diego, respectively. Nothing feels more like playing hooky than sitting in the bleachers with a box of popcorn and the green field stretched out before you in the sun. Even if it is the Cubs.
So take advantage of all Chicago has to offer. If you have only a day to spare, the drive is generally no more than two hours, and with a scenic tour through Gary, who can resist? Besides, if you can't be away from campus for more than 24 hours without getting homesick, you can always climb to the Skydeck of the Sears Tower — if the skies are clear, you just might spy the gleaming gold of the Dome.
The cost of Chicago —
u South Shore ticket from South Bend to downtown Chicago: $9.40
u Spin on the Navy Pier Ferris Wheel: $4
u Window-shopping on Michigan Ave.: absolutely free
u Spending a day off that would make Ferris Bueller proud: priceless
If your comparative government class has you convinced that we've got it all wrong, head for the border for your mini-vacation. The closest international soil also happens to have a lower drinking age than our beloved States — isn't that convenient?
Thursday and Friday stretch out in front of you, beautiful blank pages just waiting to be filled. Make them zany and borderline illegal; make them restful and relaxing.
Windsor is about four hours drive South Bend, depending on traffic. As exotic as leaving the country for the weekend may sound, drop all exotic illusions on the American side of the bridge. All this Ontario city really has going for it is the gambling.
Casino Windsor is one of the largest and most popular casinos, offering all kinds of slot machines and table games from blackjack to craps and poker.
The self-contained hotel joins the casino in overlooking the Detroit River and skyline, and the strip of downtown bars and clubs nearby provides more than enough entertainment for those used to deciding between Heartland and Club 23.
If you still need a school-related excuse to waste your money away on slots and shots, consider these angles: the addictive nature of gambling (psychology), the immorality of gambling (theology), the political battles concerning the legality of gambling (government) or the economics of the industry (self-explanatory).
And if you strike it rich, you won't even need to take exams.
The cost of Canada —
u Room at Casino Windsor: $169 Canadian
u Minimum bet at Casino Windsor's Blackjack table: $5-$25 Canadian
u Adding "eh?" at the end of every sentence: obnoxious, but free
u Making a 213 mile pilgrimage all in the name of legal drinking for 19 year-olds: priceless
From Dome to Dunes
Not everyone has the urge or the cash for a lavish trip during study days. But our very own state of Indiana provides its residents with more than enough ways to amuse themselves. Honestly. And it's not all cornfields, either.
The Indiana Dunes National Lakeshore and Dunes State Park is only an hour away from Notre Dame, on Indiana's southern shore. Here are the natural wetlands and tall sand dunes that Lake Michigan is known for. With projected highs in the 70s for Thursday and Friday, a day at the beach is the perfect way to unwind before the stress of exams.
If you want to make the excursion into an overnight adventure (and maybe — gasp! — break parietals while you're at it), consider camping. As long as one member of your happy party is older than 21, the state park will let you crash for only $12 to $15 per site. For that, you have three miles of shoreline to explore, trails to hike and a whole lake to fish or swim, if you dare brave the chilly waters this early in the spring.
Camping at the dunes may not bring the same proud rebellion as protesting on South Quad. But if your eyes are bleary from hours in front of a computer screen getting back to nature may be more than a perfect pre-finals retreat — it might be necessary for your sanity.
The cost of the dunes —
u Campsite at Indiana Dunes State Park: $12-15
u 10 oz. bottle of Coppertone: $6.99
u Cookout essentials — brats, burgers, buns and s'mores ingredients: depends on how much your crew can pack away.
u Laughing as your roommates tumble head-over-heels down a huge dune and wind up at the bottom with a mouthful of sand: priceless
Home Sweet Home
Despite wishful thinking, most of us will spend these days of study right where we are: good ol' South Bend. Before you heave a great sigh, consider this: in a little more than a week, you'll be missing this place like crazy. Plus, with the latest spell of warm and uncharacteristically sunny weather, northern Indiana is not a bad place to be.
So if you are stuck here for the weekend, do not despair. You can still have one last weekend of partying and go out with a bang, or you could even consider cracking open the books and getting a head-start on all your friends — a novel thought.
Try studying some place new: Lula's for the coffee and comfy chairs, Barnes and Noble for the distraction of thousands of books much more interesting than the one you're reading, or the new Coleman Morse center for the free Coke and popcorn. Brilliant.
Remember to treat your poor brain to some down time this weekend as well. Sit in the back row of Movies 14 and toss popcorn at lovey couples. Go out to dinner with friends and spend some quality time together before summer send you your separate ways. Or just take a leisurely walk around the lake and feed the ducks.
So even if you're swamped in work — and in all honesty, we all should probably spend the next 48 hours in the library — make the most of these study days. They'll be gone before you know it.
The cost of South Bend —
u 12 inch pepperoni pizza from Bruno's: $8.95
u Student discount at Movies 14: $5
u Cappuccino at Lula's: $2.75
u Realizing that everyone who partied through study days is just that much more screwed come finals time: smugly priceless.
All Scene Stories for Wednesday, May 2, 2001