The best part about midterms is that they end in spring break. To get students in the mood, A&E has put together some different takes on how best to make use—or fun—of a week free of school.
Catch up on hot new media while stuck at home
After the obligatory exchanges with friends and family, those heading home for break can fill the rest of their downtime with the latest in movies, TV, music, and books.
Summer break is still a couple months away, but “Battle: Los Angeles” fills the void for those impatient for their summer blockbuster fix. Starring Aaron Eckhart (“The Dark Knight”) and Michelle Rodriguez (“Avatar”), the film follows the experience of Marines deployed in LA as they fight out humanity’s last stand against an alien threat.
For those craving a new epic romance—“Pride and Prejudice” can only be watched so many times—the Victorian classic “Jane Eyre” receives the big screen treatment with Mia Wasikowska (“Alice in Wonderland”) in the titular role. Michael Fassbender (“Inglorious Basterds”) stars alongside as the brooding Mr. Rochester.
Escape the doldrums of assigned readings into George R.R. Martin’s fantastical Seven Kingdoms in “A Game of Thrones.” Not just a silly fantasy series, “A Song of Ice and Fire” is a complex saga of intrigue, lust, and greed. Stay up-to-date with the soon-to-be even more massively popular book series—it’s being adapted into a new HBO series for April.
Though approaching the publicity saturation point, Adele’s album “21” isn’t getting a lot of attention for nothing. Adele’s passionate, angry songs shine brightest, including the album’s first single “Rolling in the Deep ” and the soulful “He Won’t Go.”
Catching up on reality TV offers total mental relaxation. Instead of mourning not being on vacation, tune in for the “Top Chef” season finale set in the Bahamas or the latest “Jersey Shore” to enjoy the tropical sun and beachside antics—all from the comfort of the couch.
Take advantage of free time and spring weather to shop
There is nothing quite as uplifting as that first spring morning, when students wake up to the sun’s rays pouring through the window and find that the doom and gloom of winter has finally disappeared. But there is nothing quite as disheartening as then walking over to a closet full of heavy sweaters, wool scarves, and muddy rain boots. Over-worn, cold-weather wardrobes do not suffice for students suffering from a case of spring fever.
To sprinkle a little sunshine over the depressing piles of black and grey sitting in dorm room drawers, take advantage of the newly warm air and head downtown to some of the city’s cutest and brightest boutiques. At the whimsical Geminola (41 Perry St., between West 4th Street and Waverly Place), vintage fabrics are reworked into entirely new sundresses, shorts and blouses. It is a great place to reward oneself for schlepping through those wet and frigid winter months. Afterwards, grab a fresh fruit smoothie and some authentic—and insanely delicious—falafel at Taim (222 Waverly Pl., between West 11th and Perry streets). Or spend an afternoon people-watching in nearby Washington Square Park and—just maybe—fall in love with New York all over again.
Try out a new recipe for size
This spring break, beat the post-midterms Ferris Booth blues, and say au revoir to flimsy tortilla wraps and cardboard-tasting pizza for a week. Calling out to both veterans in the kitchen and those hardly capable of picking up a spatula: It’s time to invoke your inner Julia Child. Try out a new recipe to share with friends and family on a rainy mid-March afternoon indoors.
Food Network programming staples like the celebrity chef-studded “The Best Thing I Ever Ate” and “Throwdown With Bobby Flay”are inspiration enough to get those creative juices flowing. The more tech-savvy can check out food blogs like “Smitten Kitchen” and “Gourmet or Gourmand” for recipes that run the gamut from the sweet to the savory to the bizarre—think cauliflower and parmesan cake.
Students staying in the city over the break might want to take up casual cooking classes, available for rookie and advanced chefs alike. The Social Table (306 W. 51st St., between Eighth and Ninth avenues) offers BYOB classes in a relaxed setting, with culinary creations ranging from “Pizza Making” to “Dim Sum & Asian Apps.” For hands-on experience with refreshing, organic recipes, schedule a group lesson at Karen Lee’s Cooking Classes (142 West End Ave., at 66th Street). Bonus points for those who keep up with the DIY cuisine once classes resume.
Tunes to keep up the spring break beat
One needn’t look further than Low Steps to see that Columbia students like to hail spring in early. Likewise, few iPods around campus are likely to be currently playing bleak, wintry tunes. Those that are a little lost can look to these jams to usher in the warmer weather (hopefully) right around the corner.
The synthpop band Cut Copy is from Australia, which has been basking in summer rays for the last several months. The group’s third album “Zonoscope” is as dance-inducing as the two before it, and the track “Pharoahs & Pyramids” is sure to bring out enough grooves to make students forget that jacket they’re still toting around.
Korallreven hails from Sweden, which doesn’t evoke swimsuits and beach balls, but the Swedes need their imaginary escapes to warm weather, too. The track “Shine On” has a layered, atmospheric, and slightly bittersweet sound capable of bringing about a blissful state even if the sun is masked by a layer of clouds.
The South Carolina-based band Toro y Moi imbues chillwave tunes with that playful sensibility most attainable during the footloose summer months. The band just released its second LP “Underneath the Pine.” It isn’t a summer album per se, but the track “How I Know”has an expansive Brian Wilson-esque sound that makes the perfect soundtrack for spring break escapades and shenanigans.
There are ways to beat back the late-winter gloom, and good, mood-shifting music is certainly one of the best.
Pick up a flick at an indie video store
Everyone is talking about the home video apocalypse, but rest assured that the last frontier for the indie video store will undoubtedly be New York.
Although the once-great Morningside Heights video store Kim’s Video, went out of business years ago, it lives on at 124 First Ave. (at St. Mark’s Place). Rentals are long gone, but their selection of movies for purchase is still excellent and as idiosyncratically organized as ever: first by country, then by director. Of equal importance, their clerks are still snobbish and aloof, warranting comparisons to employees of the fictional Championship Vinyl.
For a more off-the-beaten-track adventure, visit Naghma House (131 Lexington Ave., at 29th Street), which caters to its surrounding mini Indian neighborhood with an array of Indian and Pakistani TV serials and Bollywood musicals. Another store that warrants a trip to a not necessarily student-geared neighborhood is New York Video (949 First Ave., between 52nd and 53rd streets).
Although the DVD selection leaves something to be desired, the VHS collection is excellent. The shop’s clientele includes Edgar Wright (“Scott Pilgrim vs. the World”) and Woody Allen.
Drink a tropical drink, here or anywhere
Sex on the Beach—a college favorite for obvious reasons. And the drink version doesn’t involve getting sand caught in undesirable places.
1 part peach Schnapps
1-2 parts vodka (depending on desired strength)
2 parts cranberry juice
2 parts pulp-free orange juice
garnish with a maraschino cherry and an orange slice
Mai Tai recipe (on T Magazine)—with two types of rum and more than one exotic ingredient, Mai Tais might not be the most budget-conscious drink, but they are delicious.
1 part orgeat syrup (almond-flavored) or 1 drop pure almond extract
1 part orange curacao or Cointreau
2 parts light rum
2 parts dark rum
juice of one lime
pinch of granulated sugar
optional: orange juice
garnish with slices of lime and pineapple
Spiked lemonade—more Cap Cod in the summer than white sandy island beaches, but this drink still offers a little bit of sun in a cup.
1 part cucumber vodka (or, if that cannot be found, vodka + cucumber)
1 part lemonade
1 part club Soda
Melon Mojito—a sweetly refreshing take on the traditional poolside mint cocktail.
juice of one lime
5 mint leaves (crush together at bottom of glass with lime before adding liquid)
1 part Malibu Melon rum
1 1/2 parts club soda
pinch of granulated sugar
garnish with a sprig of mint and a slice of lime