As I sat in class on Thursday November 10, I counted down the seconds for what promised to be the best weekend ever. I was so excited for Family Weekend I could barely pay attention. I’m a very family-oriented kid and I couldn’t wait to be spoiled with great food and new stuff. I also couldn’t wait to show my parents everything I had been doing for the past two months. But the weekend could never have lived up to what I had expected because I didn’t really have time for even half of what I had thought about doing.
In the end, the weekend turned into a crazy stressfest. The idea of a weekend where your parents come and treat you to dinner and new clothing while you show off and brag about your new friends and school sounds awesome. I thought of the weekend as a college version of “camp visiting day.” Visiting day is that one day of the summer where all activities and classes stop for a day, and your parents come to camp with amazing amounts of food and walk around meeting your friends and counselors. Family Weekend sounded exactly the same to me at first, but the harsh reality is that Family Weekend is an ideal situation that will never happen.
My parents arrived and I rushed to say “hi” to them between classes. My mom wanted to go to Whole Foods and restock my fridge but I didn’t have time before I needed to rush off to my next class. We planned to have dinner at 6:30, but two of my friends who were supposed to come had midterms at 6 and couldn’t make it. I had a Spanish test the next day so I also wasn’t too eager to spend three hours eating while I should have been doing my work.
However, I smiled and pretended everything would be fine and spent the entire night eating and talking. Friday and Saturday were no different, and I spent the entire weekend shopping, eating and hanging out with my family. The weekend was great, but I could not help but feel guilty about not doing work the entire time. I knew that I had three projects for the upcoming week and two meetings that I would have to miss Sunday, but what was I going to tell my parents? “Sorry mom and dad, I know you are here to see me, but I actually can’t see you the whole time.”
The timing this year was particularly bad. If the purpose of Family Weekend is for the university to show off the great things it possesses, why don’t they put in more effort? For example, why choose the weekend before Thanksgiving when most students go home to see their families shortly there after. When I said bye to my parents I laughed, because I knew a little more than a week later I’d be seeing them again. Luckily, my parents were willing to come for the weekend in addition to flying me home next week for Thanksgiving. However, a lot of students’ parents did not come because they thought it was too close to Thanksgiving. Those people had to awkwardly spend their weekend either avoiding their roommate’s parents or tagging along by their “adopted” family of the weekend. Many of these people were upset, because they could not show their families what they had been doing for the past two months and all of the new friends they had made, but instead felt unloved and out of place.
Classes, work and clubs all continue when mom and dad hop in to town. I do think that Family Weekend is a great idea, but none of the students or teachers are willing to put everything on hold the way a summer camp does. Scheduling shows and talks for parents is a good idea, but a lot of these events did not even have enough space for some families. Also, the end of the quarter was right around the corner and teachers don’t have enough time to be willing to sacrifice class time or assignments in order to please parents. Family weekend might never be perfect for every student, especially at Northwestern. At least one student will always have midterms, or their family wont be able to come. But until someone finds a way or at least a better time to pause university life, I don’t see the possibility of anyone having a truly great weekend.