On Friday, millions of students across Turkey rushed home, report card in hand, as the first semester of the 2019-2020 school year drew to an end.
While many students will undoubtedly enjoy their favorite activities during the two-week holiday, the minister of Education urged the youth to spend the time outside their rooms.
In a message shared on his social media account, Minister Ziya Selçuk called on students to get involved in social activities and experience new things instead of spending the time cooped up in their rooms.
"Please don't shut yourself in your house or your rooms during the holiday. Life is a book packed with beauty and meaning. Discover new things, meet new people, go to new places, listen to new songs," Selçuk said.
In cooperation with the ministry, many municipalities and organizations across Turkey have announced special programs and events for students to attend over the winter break. One such option is a special camping event organized by the Search and Rescue Association (AKUT).
The event will take children from ages 8 to 16 to the eastern province of Kars, where they will learn about various topics including tying knots, pathfinding in the wilderness, winter survival and skiing. The camps will last five days and all equipment will be supplied to the children free of charge.
Meanwhile, parents living in the Aegean province of İzmir will have the chance to sign their children up for a space camp in which students will participate in real-life space mission scenarios, from launch preparations to the management of an in-flight control center.
Despite a wide range of offers, many families, however, see the break as a time for family vacations, as bus terminals and airports across Turkey began swelling crowds hours after the final bell rang out.
Families looking to get away from the chaos of the large cities were stuck waiting in hourslong queues at airports, especially Istanbul Airport, with flights for the day nearly all booked out. However, Istanbulites who preferred to stay on the ground could not escape the turmoil either, as traffic leading out of the city came to a standstill throughout the evening.
Students will be returning to their schools after the break ends on Feb. 3, and will have to wait until the midterm break on April 3 for their next vacation. The concept of a midterm break was first introduced to the Turkish education system this school year.