Think spring break and college students, and what comes to mind? Florida. Beaches. Bikinis. Parties. Beer. Lots of beer.
Demetri Lambros and his girlfriend, Elaine Bucher, couldn't have strayed farther from the road to the Sunshine State than when they opted to spend their spring break in Rockville -- as in Maryland.
"We found great ways to do nothing," said Lambros, a junior theater major at Western Maryland College. "We did absolutely nothing."
Almost nothing. The pair, who are reading "The Great Gatsby" in their American literature class, seized an opportunity to visit the graveof F. Scott Fitzgerald at a local Catholic church.
"My girlfriend's mother knew his grave was there, so we decided to go," said Lambros, a Hightstown, N. J. resident. "There we were with our umbrellas, searching the graveyard for his tombstone. It was pretty neat."
They not only found Fitzgerald's tombstone but also that of his wife, Zelda, and other members of the extended Fitzgerald clan.
"It was weird to be grave-hopping, so to speak," said Bucher, a sophomore English major who hopes to become a teacher.
The cemetery visit provided the Rockville resident with a piece of Fitzgerald trivia she can tell her future students.
She and her boyfriend noted with great excitement that the last line of "The Great Gatsby" is chiseled on Fitzgerald's tombstone.
They had trouble remembering that last line, though. For the curious, here it is: "So we beat on, boats against the current, borne back ceaselessly into the past."
Lambros and Bucherwouldn't have traded the grave-searching expedition and the generally blank calendar of the week-long break for trips "to states that we're not sure even exist -- like Oklahoma."
Frank Huminski, a juniorcommunications major at WMC, also avoided the crowds in Florida to return to his hometown, Edgewater Park, N. J., where his mother had appointments with the dentist and optometrist waiting for him.
"In between I slept a lot and did nothing," the 20-year-old student admitted.
Many Western Maryland students, such as Jenny O'Hara and DianaTruscott, couldn't resist a change in temperature and scenery, and headed south.
"I'm in my depression stage now," said O'Hara, a senior who plans to pursue a career in social work, recalling her fun in the sun. "The other night, I just wanted to go back."
O'Hara, Truscott and a few of their friends drove in shifts to make the trip to The Drift Motel in Key West, Fla., in about 24 hours.
"It was wonderful," recalled Truscott, a senior sociology major. "The beaches there are really nice. There are a lot of bars to go. It's like a college atmosphere but without the work."
O'Hara, a 21-year-old residentof Phoenix, Baltimore County, agreed, adding that sunsets and sleep were also memorable parts of the trip. She estimated she spent about $600 and "had a pretty decent meal once a day."
"It was a nice wayto cap off our senior year," said Truscott, from Medford Lakes, N. J. "There were five of us, and it was nice to spend time with friends and other people from school."
Both Truscott and O'Hara visited Florida during previous spring breaks but said the last was the most memorable. Some Western Maryland underclassmen said they were saving tomake the trip next year.
"I'm kind of waiting for my senior year," Huminski said.
Some, like Malin Jonsson, a 19-year-old freshman from Stockholm, Sweden, ventured to Florida because their stay in theUnited States was limited.
"It was a nice change from here," saidJonsson, who has not decided on a major and is uncertain whether shewill return to WMC next year. "I really just wanted to go to Floridabecause I had never been there before."
She particularly enjoyed Walt Disney World and the beaches.
Although most college students migrated to some destination in Florida, Ricardo Washington, a freshman political science major, went west -- to California -- to visit relatives he hadn't seen in about 15 years.
His itinerary included trips to San Francisco and Santa Monica. The vacation, though, had itsdisappointments for the Pensacola, Fla., native.
"It was cold," the 18-year-old recalled. "I took shorts and summer clothes and ended up having to go to the store to buy long pants and warmer things."
Washington, who attended high school in Prince George's County, followed the traditional route south for spring break. It's a plan he maygive more thought to next year.
"I usually go home over spring break," he said. "This year, I decided to do something different. I still thought I was going somewhere warm, but instead of surfing, I wentsledding."
Renata Donoso, a freshman from LaPaz, Bolivia, also went to California, where the cold and rain dampened her enthusiasm, too.
"It was rainy many days," said the 20-year-old graphic design major.
But Donoso said she had never been to California and enjoyedvisiting places like San Francisco and its Golden Gate Bridge, Chinatown and Fisherman's Wharf.
"I really wanted to see California," she said. "I'm in international student and only plan to stay in the United States one year, so I thought I had better go."
Some students, like Trecia Berry, a junior sociology and education major, were lucky enough to return home to warmer climates.
The 20-year-old had no qualms about returning to her hometown -- St. Thomas, Virgin Islands -- for her spring break.
"That's where I'm from," said the tanned Berry. "I really didn't do anything out of the unusual. I usually go home over spring break."
Her break was more than sleep and relaxation, though. She admitted to visiting other Caribbean islands, sailing and sunning at the beach.
"It wasn't anything out of the ordinary," she said. "But it was nice to get away from here."