Inside USD’s intersession
One thing that sets University of San Diego apart from other universities is its unusually long winter break. Students have a total of five weeks off from school to enjoy whatever holiday festivities they have planned. Some students may take this opportunity to travel or catch up on rest, while other students enroll themselves in an intersession class.
USD offers three-week long intersession classes for students, either on campus or abroad. The reasons for taking an intersession class vary among Toreros.
Senior Madison Samuels enrolled in a second-semester Spanish intersession class in order to make up for the amount of units she needs.
“I wanted to graduate on time and I wanted to make sure I was only taking five classes a semester,” Samuels said. “So I mapped it out with my counselor and I needed to take either an intersession or summer class. I chose intersession because I didn’t want to worry about having to take one more class after all my friends had graduated.”
Although Samuels was not initially looking forward to having to spend three weeks of her break taking a course, she was pleasantly surprised.
“I liked it because there was no fluff,” Samuels said. “Every day we were working on something and each class was productive. You learn something one day and then you come the second day and you have a quiz on it so you’re not forgetting the information.”
The prospect of earning three units of course credit in just a few weeks was appealing to junior Sarah Kramer.
“I know it’s not exactly what students have in mind on how they want to spend their break,” Kramer said. “But if they focus on how much they are accomplishing in just those three weeks it’s worth it. I think you just have to remember to think about how much it’ll lighten your course load for the next semester.”
This past intersession Kramer took a marketing strategy class, which is structured differently than a typical class.
“What was great about the course I took was that it was only one week long from 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. instead of a normal three-week intersession period,” Kramer said. “This was great for me because I was able to get my course completed, but could still enjoy two additional weeks of break.”
Kramer noted some of the benefits of taking an intersession course rather than picking up an extra class to take during the semester.
“I think it is beneficial to take an intersession because it is the only class you have to focus on,” Kramer said. “At least in my case, I know there are some people who take two. But still, you are only having to balance the material of one or two classes opposed to the usual five.”
Senior Jazmin Gonzales took an intersession class for the first time and wasn’t sure what to expect.
“I’ve never taken one (an intersession class) before so I thought taking an elective would be more interesting than a GE (general education) over break,” Gonzales said. “I was worried I would be sitting in the classroom just counting time for the entire class meeting.”
While more Toreros take intersession courses, Gonzales noted the campus was less inhabited during this time.
“There is not a lot of people on campus, so it’s not as crowded and there are also smaller class sizes,” Gonzales said. “I really enjoyed this version of the campus, because I saw the same people everyday and it just felt as if we were able to get to know each other more. I mean we are stuck in a classroom everyday for four hours.”
Intersession brings a different feel to what is usually a vibrant campus filled with students lounging in Paseo de Colachis plaza or gathering in the on-campus eateries to fill their free time. During intersession USD’s campus could be compared to a ghost town. In addition to there being fewer people on campus, there are plenty of open parking spaces available, but only few food places open on campus. However, some students may choose to spend their intersession in a new location abroad.
Sophomore Katie Greene took advantage of this opportunity to embark in the Second Year experience [SYE] abroad in Florence, Italy.
“I can’t think of anything more fun than going abroad with your best friends,” Greene said. “You really get to immerse yourself in a culture and get to feel like a local. My favorite part was when I got so used to the city that I ended up never needing to refer maps anymore.”
Greene’s intersession class allowed her to get a taste of what studying abroad for a semester would be like since one of the main reasons she decided to attend USD was for the study abroad programs.
“I wanted to see how I’d like being abroad for a whole semester,” Greene said. “Three weeks is a perfect amount of time to get acclimated and see how you like a city, so it was kind of my way of dipping my toes in the water of going abroad in fall.”
Yet, students might be tempted to push school responsibilities to the backseat while abroad.
“It wasn’t too bad,” Greene said. “The professors know that being abroad is so special and you’re only there for a limited amount of time, so the homework, assignments, and reading wasn’t too much to handle. USD also gives us free days, too, so we got to do basically all the things we wanted to do.”
While coming back to school three weeks early to take a class may not be the ideal way for some Toreros to spend their holiday break, it can have some advantages. An intersession class could mean a less hectic semester schedule, an early graduation, or the opportunity to travel abroad. Whatever a student’s reasons might be, intersession could mean an unforgettable experience.