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GOODBYE, FOR NOW: Fans slap hands with senior Nate Harris, at the head of the line, after the Aggies beat SJSU to secure the No. 2 WAC seed. See story in Sports. / Photo by Robert McDaniel

Today's word on journalism

Monday, March 6, 2006

"Neutrality in journalism means refusal to take sides. Many newspapers are neutral with regard to certain issues. Hardly a newspaper exists which is completely neutral upon all issues. Such a newspaper would be regarded as spineless. Just as the individual cannot escape taking sides against evils in life, so the newspaper necessarily has convictions against crime, corruption, and other evils in public affairs."

--George Fox Mott, journalism professor, in "An Outline Survey of Journalism," 1940

Spring break means a chance for students to flee to more appealing climes

By Paul Garrett

March 5, 2006 | With the number of days until spring break almost in single digits, many Utah State University students are eager to escape the harsh Cache Valley winter during spring break in search of warmer climates and an adventure with friends.

"Spring break offers the opportunity to make that once in a lifetime trip with our college friends to places we might not be able to go back to for a long time," said Amanda Petersen, who traveled with her now-husband, Mike, and two other friends to England, Spain, and France for spring break last year. They planned the trip by themselves saying it gave them greater travel freedom.

"Doing our own planning was fun since we got to investigate and choose exactly what we wanted when we wanted it," she said.

For many students the hardest part of planning a trip is deciding where to go and getting people to commit.

"Everyone seems so excited about it at first and then never follows through," Michelle Anderson said, who went to St. George.

The issue of money can be daunting; however, many companies offer deals exclusively to college students. One particular Web site, on which many students have found great savings, is Student Universe, a company that offers discounts to major airlines, hotels, and rail passes. Students are only required to provide their university e-mail address to verify enrollment in order to have access to the savings.

"I couldn't believe we were able to fly round trip from Salt Lake to London for $450," Petersen said.

Most students interviewed who traveled out of the country said to plan on spending between $1,000 and $1,500, an interesting amount considering the average annual income for a college-aged student is approximately $5,000 (U.S. Census Bureau).

According to Travelocity, the top spring break destination for college students last year was Mexico (23.2 percent), followed by Europe (15.9 percent) and the Caribbean (7.9 percent).

Adventure is what most students interviewed were seeking. To able to experience an entirely different culture gives many a greater appreciation of various races and ethnicities, Megan Chamberlin said, who explored the Yucatan peninsula for her trip.

"We were able to do so many cool things in Mexico," Chamberlin said. "We visited ancient ruins on various islands, watched sharks, and played with baby sea turtles," she said.

All students interviewed advise others to plan on spending more money than planned. Unexpected costs frequent most trips. For Petersen and her group problems struck the first day. Weather delays in Chicago ultimately caused her group to miss a connecting flight to Spain.

"We fought weather conditions, sprinted through two of the biggest airports in the world, transferred to a different airport in London, only to miss our flight by five minutes," Petersen said. When returning home, they were evacuated from the London subway due to a bomb threat. The only way to get to the airport in time was to purchase an expensive above ground train ticket.

While some students meticulously plan each day, others approach their trip with a more carefree plan. Merrill Tingey and two others explored five European countries and Morocco pitching a tent wherever they found themselves each night. After the airline lost the tent on one of their flights, the threesome found themselves seeking shelter wherever they could.

"We slept on a park bench in Paris for a bit and hung out at a store with the owner for the rest of the night," he said.

Acting as their own travel agents, students often turn to the Internet and travel books for necessary info. Many prefer books from Rick Steves as a source to find phone numbers and maps to inexpensive hotels and hostels, places to eat, and must see sights. Online groups, such as those available through Google, give students the opportunity to interact with people very willing to share tips and lessons learned from their own experiences.

Hostels are also an excellent option for travelers to save additional money. Travelers can often get a place to stay for about $15-30 a night. Often times family owned, they offer the opportunity to interact with locals and find out places to visit that are away from the normal tourist areas. Many students have found using Web sites in advance, such as Hostels of Europe, is easier than trying to find a place to stay once there.

Despite the extra money spent, stress from planning, and other unexpected problems, all said the unforgettable experiences they had were well worth it.

"How many people can say they've hung out in a pub with the Irish in Dublin on St. Patrick's Day?" Tingey said.

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