A mid-term exam in economics, two term papers, a research paper, and tons of rehearsals for the upcoming spring musical. Three words: stressed, exhausted, and frazzled. Mid-semester break could not have come at a better time, and I was really looking forward to having three days off from the chaotic college lifestyle. Naturally, I decided to do some traveling.

The theatre department at my university takes an annual trip to Stratford in Ontario, Canada to see some shows at the Stratford Shakespeare Festival. When I heard through the grapevine that tickets this year were free, I immediately hopped on the bandwagon. Buying a plane ticket home to Philadelphia for three days isn’t worth it to me, but a travel opportunity where the only thing I have to pay for is meals is. Sign me up!

The epic ride to Canada wasn’t as bad as I expected. We stocked our bulky Ohio Wesleyan van full with plenty of snacks, eclectic CD mixes from middle school, and cheesy magazine horoscopes—plenty ofentertainment for the seven-hour drive. Ironically, everyone ended up falling asleep for most of the trip. This is what long-term sleep deprivation in college does to you.

Upon arrival in Stratford, everyone was wide-awake and ready to explore the town. We dropped our backpacks off at the hospital hostel where we were staying. The place was bare bones, complete rock-hard mattresses and thin sheets, but just fine for a two-night stay. Plus, they had free breakfast.

We piled back into the vans and drove the extra five minutes into the center of town. Strolling around the quiet streets of Ontario, we all agreed that it was a nice change of pace from our midterm exam schedules. The temperature was much colder than what we were used to in Ohio, but felt refreshing and slightly foreign to us. After all, we were in a different country, which was exciting in itself.

Stratford is a quaint town that gets most of its attention from tourists. The Stratford Shakespeare Festival is North America’s largest classical repertory theatre—a pretty big deal for theatergoers, who come from all over to see shows there. Another fun fact: teen sensation Justin Bieber is from Stratford.

Our days were busy browsing art galleries, admiring the towns Victorian architecture, touring the enormous Stratford costume warehouse, nibbling handspun chocolate treats from the famous chocolatarie in town, and simply enjoying each other’s company without the stress of work and rehearsals. also discovered a beautiful Shakespeare garden and participated in a stage combat workshop, where I was able to “punch” my theatre professor.

By night, we watched flawless shows on the thrust stage of the Festival Theatre, cuddled up in the plush booths of one of the many pubs in town, drinking (legally—that is!) and discussing the shows with two of the professors that went on the trip.

Although it was a three-day whirlwind adventure, and I was left feeling more exhausted than before, it was definitely worth the drive.  Stratford was a much-needed change of pace, as well as a little taste of culture.

We were back nestled in our cozy dorm rooms two days before the hustle of classes started again, with visions of “Kiss Me, Kate,” and “As You Like It” dancing in our heads.