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The Daily Wildcat

The Daily Wildcat


    On The Road Again: Minneapolis, Minnesota

    Daniel Burkart
    Daniel Burkart / The Daily Wildcat The Mall of America roller coaster is just one of the many attractions that visitors and tourists can ride in between meals and shopping.

    I was sitting in the Mall of America’s food court in Minneapolis, an overpriced drink in one hand and half a sandwich in the other.

    I watched residents and tourists alike spinning around the indoor Ferris wheel that overlooked the food court and observed the indoor roller coaster speed by store windows. My phone was turned to silent (except for calls from my editor, of course) as I casually watched the passersby, each lugging shopping bags containing loot procured from throughout this massive mall.

    It was here I realized I was able to find a hint of peace, amidst waves of cramped and noisy tourists scurrying along from store to store. I knew what awaited me back home at the UA — the tests, the time crunch, the commitments, the early mornings and last-minute assignments. But for a few brief days, I could block it all out. Don’t get me wrong, all of that would still be waiting there piled up on my desk when I returned, but sometimes you just need to take a break and distance yourself from your own life.

    This week, our road trip column went slightly off course.

    I took a trip to Minnesota for the weekend, leaving Friday morning and returning early Monday. My mother has been a Minnesota Vikings fan since she was a child, and I was finally able to take her back to a home game, her first. When she first told me of the idea earlier in the year, I scoffed at it. There would be a test I’d have to study for, a paper inevitably due, time off work, a whole litany of reasons why I shouldn’t go. But as the weekend approached, I realized the semester had already gotten to me. With the week-in and week-out chugging along, I needed to catch my breath.

    Wandering the University of Minnesota, Twin Cities campus, I saw students just like myself, hustling around with their bags and books. I admired the architecture, the impressive brick buildings (even though the UA has ruined brick for me), relished the chilly, gray skies and sprinkling of rain. I wandered downtown Minneapolis. I listened to those with Canadian accents as they politely made their way through crowds, asking if I needed help getting around. Hands down, the nicest group of people I’ve ever met. I realized I could never live there — simply because I wasn’t nice enough.

    I talked with the bellboy who brought room service to my room each morning, a high school senior who went to school nearby, working at the hotel part time each morning before class and anxiously awaiting college next fall. He asked me questions, and I told him stories of college life and the world he’d soon be part of, as if I knew what I was talking about.

    At the game, I chatted up a security guard on the sidelines; he was a former college third-string walk-on linebacker for the University of Miami who busted his knees his sophomore year and was destined to the sidelines thereafter. Now, he watches athletes have the sort of career he had envisioned for himself, not without a bit of spite in his voice. I took pictures for him on his phone, since he was not allowed to while on the job. His stepson was a Tom Brady fan. I managed to get a few pictures for him, and in exchange, he allowed me to wander around the field a little more freely than the rest of the crowd waiting in line behind me. He made sure my spot on the sidelines wasn’t taken.
    In all, the weekend was a nice reprieve from the rut I’d found myself in after only a month of classes.

    However, you can’t keep running away from your life forever. You do, in fact, need to know when to go back. For me, it was on the third day, after the football game, when the waitress at the hotel bar came over to our table, looked at me with a familiar smile and asked, “The usual?”

    What I’m saying is, taking a weekend off during the semester can do some good. Just to get away, even if it is just a quick trip to California beaches, an ill-advised guys’ night out to Las Vegas or a trip below the border. Give yourself some breathing room to take a step back and give some perspective to what you do every day. Begin to think about the bigger picture, think about what happens outside that four-year (or longer) bubble of college life. It may be your everything right now, but it isn’t all that’s out there.

    It’s so easy to be swept under the waves of the semester, from weekly quizzes you think are make-or-break, friends pulling you every which way to hang out, midterms and eventually finals — until you look back and wonder where the semester went. Go stand on a bridge at midnight, or on the beach as the sun sets, give yourself an existential crisis and wonder what it’s all about.

    Follow Daniel Burkart on Twitter @Daniel_Burkart

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