I’m not sure we realise just how lucky we are as university students. To have terms that only last 10 weeks means there is plenty of opportunities for unwinding on the horizon. Whether it’s simply returning home to see family, using the holiday as a chance to earn extra money or travel overseas, there is ample time available to enjoy what the world has to offer. But how should the world be enjoyed? It is not an easy question to answer given the multitude of countries and tourist attractions available for all to see. This means I often define my travel not by where I want to go, but what I want to do.
Plenty of term is spent working away in the library. This is, I have found, quite a solitary experience that requires lots of time and attention. Holidays, therefore, should be about recognising and celebrating the success of others. Having spent the whole term completing work myself, getting away from campus should offer the opportunity to recognise the creativity and ingenuity of others.
I want to be dazzled and amazed by talent that I would only be able to see there
My idea of the perfect holiday is one that spends plenty of time in museums, art galleries and the theatre. My love of culture is such that I’m desperate to see contemporary and historic talents, artists I’ve never heard of and enjoy architecture that had never entered my imagination. After months of predictability, whether in the library or lecture theatres, I want to be dazzled and amazed by talent that I would only be able to see there.
I suppose this is partially because my favourite sort of holidays are getting lost in different cities. It’s so easy to go down a road and discover something completely new: an awe-inspiring architectural design; a truly eccentric shop; a vast green park. The unpredictability of cities is what makes them so appealing. I also value heritage, belonging and history, which art galleries and museums inherently provide. While there may be new buildings and development within the local area, museums are likely to retain the origins of the city and allow a discovery of its past.
Holidays are about doing things I would never otherwise do, not simply lounging for a fortnight
I recognise that this style of holiday may not be for everyone. Indeed, I wonder if my preference is in the minority. For some, two weeks at the beach may be all that is required. I think my attention span is too short to cope with that style of holiday for one day, let alone one week: everything just looks the same. Personally, holidays are about doing things I would never otherwise do, not simply lounging for a fortnight. While I may take the city exploration slowly, I would always want to visit somewhere new.
This, of course, depends on what you regard as value for money. Holidays can be expensive things. When you consider the travel, accommodation, insurance, food and additional expenses, it is very easy to see how the money can pile up. I would prefer to spend those days overseas, or simply in another part of the country, actively exploring things. I want to have memories from the holiday that will stay with me for years. When work is tough, I want to at least look back to those positive memories of the past that I know can be enjoyed again in the future. The idea of exploring museums of all kinds is my kind of positive memory.
We can all benefit from learning in a different way about a certain period and opening up our minds to new ideas
Cultural holidays can provide educational benefits, not least for young children. By visiting art galleries, children will gain the cultural capital that can help them in the classroom. By visiting museums, children can have a head start on their peers, learning about a historical period before it is officially taught. But learning doesn’t have to end after school finishes. We can all benefit from learning in a different way about a certain period and opening up our minds to new ideas.
Two holidays from 2019 will stay with me for a long time: London during the summer and Edinburgh in winter. Both involved culture, be it visiting the British Museum in London or the National Gallery in Edinburgh. Each allowed me to celebrate and recognise fine up and coming artists as well as those from more historic periods. Both provided eye-opening experiences unique to the location. And yes, I found both holidays relaxing compared to the stresses of academic life. At least, they were my forms of relaxation.