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  • Lee Parsons, Staff Writer

Bearcats on break: What were WU students up to this winter?

Updated: Feb 13

Blitz the Bearcat stands behind a snow-Blitz flashing a peace sign. He’s dusted with snow. Art by Carolyn Vazquez.

The average Bearcat tends to be very busy. Between the pressure of classes, jobs, clubs and sports, Willamette students are usually in need of a good break. With nearly a month to themselves, what did students do for Winter Break? According to most students interviewed about their break, we all did one thing far more frequently than anything else: nothing at all. 

There are multiple exceptions to this norm, but most Bearcats spent the break resting, recharging and petting their greatly missed animals. Sam Adamson ('26) took a slightly varying musical approach to the break, rehearsing for the return to university life. "I pet my two dogs and practiced for eventually being back at university with the Willamette Bearcat band," Adamson said. For many, the break served as both a time for relaxation and preparation for the return to academic routines. 

Ami Bisping ('26) said, "I hung out with my cat a lot and fought with my sister," but added that break consisted of more than family time as she also had a unique, tea-infused adventure. While in Colorado, she visited the Celestial Seasonings Tea Company's factory. Describing the experience, Bisping shared, "It's super loud, but they have this room full of all the mint, and it's very cool. I got to sample a lot of tea."

Sarah-Jane Early ('26) ventured into the snowy wilderness. "I spent a lot of time with my family and went snowshoeing up to a yurt, which was a lot of fun," Early said. A birthday celebration at a hot spring added warmth to her chilly season.

Safia Bethune ('27) seized the opportunity to be a tourist in her own city, taking advantage of the extra time the break provided to explore downtown Los Angeles with friends. "I live in LA, but typically, I don’t get to do a lot of touristy things, so I feel like I haven’t experienced the city very much," Bethune noted. Like many others, Bethune took advantage of the month off and spent it with people she cares about.

Eva Lief ('27) embraced the Alaskan winter. "I live in Alaska, so I did a lot of outdoor activities such as sledding and taking nice long walks in my snow pants and long johns," Lief joked. In the same theme of appreciating nature while on break, Sage Miller ('27) sought out the crashing waves along the California coastline. "I went to the beach and saw the waves because they were like 20-foot waves, really big in California," Miller said. 

Malachi Washington ('25) shared, "I got to hang out with friends and family a lot. I went snowboarding, and I haven’t done that a lot, so that was cool.” He also mentioned attending basketball games and seeing family members he hadn’t seen in a few years.

Nick Zimmerman ('27) took his break to the stage, auditioning for a summer stock acting position in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. "It was very fun," Zimmerman shared. However, he didn't spend all his time inside — he also took time to appreciate the beauty of the Pacific Northwest, braving a beach in Washington that he described as “cold and windy but quite beautiful.” 

Emphasizing the importance of returning home and spending time with family, Ike Turman (‘26) said, “I built my mom a shed.” He added, “It’s always nice to come back home and help around the house, so I know my mom is doing OK as an empty nester.” Turman said the shed was a nice excuse to see friends, as they helped him with his projects. He also fixed up his room, adding more personal touches and plants — “fake plants though, of course, because it’s not like I’ll be there to water them.”

Nearly everyone interviewed seemed to appreciate the time off, and the break provided a fresh start for our new term. While Summer Break may already be on the horizon, as we embark on the 2024 spring term, the collective hope is for a successful term filled with academic achievements and personal growth. In Katrina Bowyer's (‘26) words, “I’m of course looking forward to summer, but I hope this term goes well and I get good grades.” 

Willamette University students utilized their Winter break in a myriad of ways, reflecting the diversity of interests and backgrounds within the Bearcat community. Whether exploring new places, honing skills or reconnecting with friends and family, the break served as a valuable time for Bearcats to rest, relax and enjoy  themselves.

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1 Comment

Feb 12

How sweet and informative about what the young people are doing. Was surprised about the boy helping his mom remembering that some still need help. Loved that almost all said going home and reconnecting to family and their roots. I liked that most took time to enjoy themselves, which is very important to be a well rounded person. Nice article!

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