Opinion: For ASU students, spring break doesn't need a plane ticket

Your experiences ahead may begin in your backyard, and they don't have to break the bank

As spring break quickly approaches, whether the rest of your squad flaked on you or you forgot about break altogether, you may find yourself without plans.

But rest assured, Sun Devils, the success of your spring break is not doomed. You can have an amazing spring break from the comfy confines of the Grand Canyon State. 

Students staying at ASU over spring break should take advantage of the week they have and explore Arizona’s many cultural and natural attractions.

According to the University, 78 percent of ASU students surveyed reportedly spent spring break in-state, meaning that students staying on or around campus next week need not feel bored or alone.

There are several concerts taking place around the Phoenix area during spring break, such as the McDowell Music Festival, Demi Lovato, COIN and Brockhampton.

For those interested in local culture, there are also several museums to visit in the Phoenix metropolitan area, including the Heard Museum, Phoenix Art Museum and the Musical Instrument Museum.

Going to these museums is cheap too. If you grab a culture pass from a city or ASU library, you can get into many of these museums for free. Even without the pass, admission to many of these museums is less than $20.

On first Tuesdays, the Arizona Science Center is free, and on first Fridays and Wednesdays from 3 pm to 9 pm, Phoenix Art Museum is free. 

Even spending a day in Old Town Scottsdale can be a relaxing way to get a different sense of Arizona culture and gain more of an appreciation for the state.

Students should also take the time to visit the Desert Botanical Gardens or go on a few hiking trips. From rocky deserts to rich, green forests, Arizona boasts a wide variety of natural attractions of which ASU students should be aware.

Molina Walters, a clinical associate professor at ASU’s Mary Lou Fulton Teacher’s College and professor of an outdoor education course, said that Arizona has an incredibly diverse environment.

“Arizona is very diverse," Walters said. "We have the largest ponderosa pine forest in the world, we have endemic species … it’s a very unique ecosystem, and most people are not aware.”

There is a multitude of natural attractions for students to explore, including Wet Beaver Creek, Payson, Tonto Natural Bridge and the Grand Canyon.

And, believe it or not, Arizona does have actual trees.

“The other thing is to go take a hike,” Walters said. “You might not necessarily know what you’re looking at, but if you take a hike and you actually go without headphones, and you actually sit and just kind of allow yourself to be, this has a close connection with mindfulness. That’s what this is about — nature is an opportunity to rejuvenate.”

And seeing Arizona's natural splendor doesn't have to break the bank. A day trip to most parts of the state costs little more than the price of a tank of gas and potentially a meal or two. 

Sedona, which is only a two and a half hour drive from Tempe, is home to psychics and healing vortices, offering the opportunity for some rest, recovery and a reconnection with nature.

“There is a disconnect, now, between humans and Earth, and that wasn’t always the case,” Walters said. “When I was growing up, I lived on a farm, and we needed the land because without the land we didn’t have food. Now, we’re so busy just flying from one thing to the next thing, we’ve got our headphones on, we’re not paying attention.”

For students who don’t have a car or the money to pay for gas, there are other options as well. ASU Wellness recommends a wide variety of activities for students staying on campus over break, providing options not only within driving distance but also within walking or biking distance.

Spring break offers a bit of time for students to take a break and explore campus culture more than they otherwise would, including visiting Tempe Town Lake or taking a walk down Mill Avenue.

“There’s an arboretum on the Tempe campus — that’s a great place to go,” Walters said. “You can take a nice walk around our own arboretum.”

Experiencing places on or around ASU can be a great way for students to step back and make the most of their college experience outside of the work-hard-play-hard environment which often embodies much of the semester.

“During spring break, everyone’s probably thinking about thing to do to get caught up, but my challenge is to take some time for yourself,” Walters said. “Take a walk … Get outside and explore.”

Reach the columnist at kalbal@asu.edu or follow @KarishmaAlbal on Twitter.

Editor’s note: The opinions presented in this column are the author’s and do not imply any endorsement from The State Press or its editors.

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