UNL professors reflect on spring break, give tips to students

By Nedu Izuegbunam, NewsNetNebraska

Marty Nader remembers his last trip out of the country like it was yesterday.

The year was 2008. The continent was Australia. The occasion was spring break.

“That was my best spring break,” Nader, a PhD candidate and political science teaching assistant  said.

With the five day vacation near, Nadar and other University of Nebraska-Lincoln faculty members want undergraduates to know they too memorable spring breaks during their college days.

The Green Bay, Wis., native was in his senior year at University of Minnesota, Twin Cities for and was taking only three credits in his final semester. The current teaching assistant was looking to end his final year of undergraduate school with an adventure.

“There were no plans at all,” Nader said. “We had no itinerary. All we had was our backpack with a couple changes of clothes. That was it. I was just working and saving money.”

With the amount of cash he did have, Nader says he and his friend decided to go somewhere they’ve never been for.

The Ph.D candidate and his best friend flew into Sydney where they would stay without an agenda the next 19 days. Unsure of what to do next, the two decided to hitchhike across the third most populous city in Australia – Brisbane.

There is where the two ‘rebels without a cause’ began the trip of their lives.

Nader said they’d spend their days sightseeing and meeting new people on the beach, then crash on the couch of random college students on a study abroad trip from the United States.

Although it may not sound like the most desirable vacation, it turned out to be the best of his life, Nader said.

“We slept on the beach which is illegal,” he said with a laugh. “But if they don’t catch you that’s fine. That was a lot of fun.”

And Nader isn’t the only University of Nebraska – Lincoln faculty member who knew how to enjoy his spring breaks as a college student.

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From 1987 to 1992, you couldn’t find Scott Stempson at home during the one week vacation if you tried.

Whether it was for golfing in South Dakota, tanning in Arizona or partying on the beaches of Key West, Fla., Stempson and his friends were spending their spring breaks away from the cold.

“We usually tried going any place south which was warmer,” the history professor said.

But those trips were after Stempson’s first year in college. Nothing beats the 1987 trip he took during the second semester of freshman year, according to the Lincoln native.

Stempson and his Phi Delta Theta fraternity brothers extended their spring break three days to drive to Detroit, Mich., to see UND compete in the 1987 NCAA Division I Hockey Tournament against the defending champions, Michigan State.

“It was kind of their home game so it was a big deal,” Stempson said.

After capturing both games against St. Lawrence in the quarter-finals, UND advanced to the Frozen Four where they beat Harvard 5-2 to move onto the finals to play the Spartans.

This was it. This was the moment Stempson and his fraternity brothers had been waiting for – to see their school potentially bring home its first national championship.

The more than 15-hour car ride turned out to be worth it, Stempson said.

“North Dakota won the national championship,” he said.

And the celebration was worthwhile, too.

“I was only 18 so they were sneaking me into the bars,” Stempson said with a laugh. “It was a little crazy because it was my first time as a freshman. My car was never the same.”

So now that he has a wife and children, what does Stempson do now on spring breaks?

“Definitely not as much partying – if any,” he said. “I’m finishing up my textbook for sports history. My deadline is April 2 so I’m going to be focusing on getting that done.

“Believe me the, the professors are happy to get a break to get caught up, too”

Nader agrees with Stempson and says he’ll also use the vacation to get caught up on school related projects.

“Just working on dissertation stuff, trying to pump out a couple pages every day,” he said. “It’s not very sexy but a whole week of no other responsibilities sounds fantastic.”

Now that he’s in graduate school and his traveling is now limited, Nader said his one tip for current undergraduate students is to stay dehydrated.

“Make sure to drink plenty of water, it helps,” he said with a laugh.

Stempson said he realizes why his parents were always strict when it came to partying and advises his students that if they do drink, to do it responsibility.

“Your parents always tell you to be careful and now that I’m a parent I understand,” he said. “I know (students) will party but they need to do it responsibility, if there is such a thing.”

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