Break brings peace, quiet to UI campus

URBANA – The breaks during the University of Illinois semesters are Karima Lundquist's favorite times. She can have the librarians all to herself.

Lundquist, a Ph.D student in history, was looking at census data in the Reference Room on Tuesday morning. She said a librarian spent four hours Monday helping her find the data she needed.

"We were both so excited about what we were finding," Lundquist said.

"The librarians are very available," she continued. "They love what they're doing, so when they have time and I have a question for them, we're off on an adventure."

UI students have the entire week off for their fall break. That means plenty of open parking spaces, no lines at the coffee shops and earlier closing times for the library, the Illini Union and IMPE.

Omar Al-Heeti was studying physiology in the Courtyard Cafe on Tuesday – someplace he would not ordinarily study.

"There would be way too many people. It would be way too loud," said Al-Heeti, a junior from Champaign.

But with most of the students gone, he was catching up on classwork and getting ready for exams without distractions. He's also been working out at IMPE without waiting in line.

"Now I can go at 5, which is prime time, and not have to wait," he said. "Sometimes it's nice just to sit around and not have to worry about people around all the time, and to take advantage of the facilities."

Josh King, a senior from Freeport, is still in town too, making some extra money at the Espresso Royale coffee shop in the Union before he heads home today.

"It's very, very slow. We still have a lot of our regular customers come in – faculty and people who work in the area," he said. "(But) mostly we're just standing around."

"We're cleaning, actually," said Georgette Varela, a junior from Boca Raton, Fla., who is staying on campus during the break.

The bowling and billiards room has some regulars too, but only a few people have stopped by to play video games, said Mike Downey, an equipment service worker who helps keep the bowling alley operating.

Electricians Roy Nigg of Ogden and Kevin Coleman of Champaign are used to working on campus, but their jobs are easier when they don't have to worry about disturbing students. They were doing fire alarm work in the Illini Union Tuesday for their employer, Coleman Electric.

"If we're hammering, drilling, creating dust or blocking hallways, sometimes that's not allowed," said Nigg during a breakfast break in the basement of the Union. "It's definitely easier to get food down here (now) because it's usually pretty crowded."

Lundquist said she enjoys the quiet and the break from classes.

"The energy is gone, the frenetic energy, so I'm more focused," she said. "All the hubbub and busy work part is gone."

And as much as she enjoys her friends and acquaintances, she likes being able to work uninterrupted.

"I like that I don't run into a lot of people that I know," she said. "It's really nice to disappear for a while."

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