We all know that when it comes summer and everything is winding down, it can be pretty easy to slip into the feeling of not wanting to do anything. However, once you’ve arrived at that point, it doesn’t take long until not doing anything morphs into being bored. While it is perfectly acceptable to feel that you have deserved a break after duking it out with the school year, don’t let too much of a “good” thing bore you down! Try some of these ideas to still maintain the freedom of a vacation, but also keep your summer exiting and memorable.
Planning a fun road trip with some high school friends, or perhaps college friends who live nearby, is a great option and relatively inexpensive if you split the gas cost amongst four or five people. Another alterative could be driving to visit other friends a few cities away, which then provides you with a place to stay overnight without having to pay hotel/motel fees. Or, if you’ve decided to save up for a travel splurge, going abroad or flying domestically – either to tour or visit friends – is very rewarding and calls for a great way to spend some of your vacation.
2. Get a Job
While working isn’t always the ideal way to spend a summer, the money racked in can more than make up for it. A summer job doesn’t necessarily have to be related to retail or food service. There are a lot of opportunities to make good money but also enjoy what you’re doing (but that’s not to say that some retail and food service jobs will never meet that criteria!). Working at a day camp or water park is a good option if you like working with kids. You can serve either as a counselor or a lifeguard, be able to relax in the sun all day, but still earn your keep. Babysitting is another viable option if you have the qualifications and the ability to reach out to your community as a trusted sitter.
3. Do Some Summer Cleaning
If you’re one of those people (like me!) who enjoy cleaning out that cluttered basement or garage, take on one of those projects this summer. It’s a great way to be on your feet and concentrate on a worthwhile task at the same time. Once the space is cleared, you can even decorate and make the place more “live-able”—who knows, you might have just created a new summer hangout spot! Even better, your parents may offer to pay you a small sum for the service.
4. Make Some Money off of Your Clutter
Once you’ve cleaned out that living space, you’re probably going to find a lot of old furniture/toys/clothing that you don’t really need anymore (or didn’t even remember having as a kid!). Talk it over with your parents and see if a garage sale might not be a bad idea. Other options for your nicer furnishings are to take them to a consignment store in your area. These stores will typically accept and display your belongings on the storefront for a specified amount of time (perhaps 60-90 days on average) and cut you part of the profits if they sell. Many other thrift stores will pay you cash on the spot for your items (usually in the clothing and toys category). Hop online and type in those keywords and your zip code to find such places near you.
5. Earn Money by Taking Surveys
On those slow days when you’re not sure what to do, and feel like making some extra cash, enroll in a few online survey websites that pay you by check or by PayPal for the redemption of a certain amount of points. This is fun if you already love sharing your opinion. However, always check first to make sure the site is legitimate (there are scams out there, after all). The best way to do this is by searching for reviews online by people who have used the site, and likewise by checking the Better Business Bureau website for accreditation. Once you find the right survey site, you can take multiple questionnaires that may award you points immediately so that the site knows what kind of surveys to match you up with. It is also recommended by survey takers that you join multiple panels to yield better results and increase the amount of surveys that you qualify for (you will screen out after the first few questions if your answers don’t match the type of person the survey giver wants). Despite that, if you put the time and effort into it, you can rack up enough points that can be redeemed for a cash payout, or other type of reward. Just make sure you understand how each site regulates their points/payout system, and you’re good to go! You won’t get rich off of this by any means, but you may make some spending money.
6. Take on a Crafting Project
I’m also one of those people who love being creative. One of my early summer projects this month was making a T-shirt quilt out of some old shirts I found shoved into the back of my dresser. Seeing as I already had sewing materials, the shirts, and one black throw blanket to sew them onto, it only cost me approximately $15 to complete: $10 for another black throw to sew as the back of the quilt, and $5 for some quilt batting from the local crafting store. It’s an excellent way to keep yourself busy and make something useful at the same time!
Whether it’s joining a local gym for the summer, jogging around the neighborhood, or exercising at home, keeping active is a great way to avoid gaining weight during a summer of being stagnant, and to promote positive energy and self-esteem. Exercising outside especially helps you to get a safe amount of sun (as long as you monitor how long you’re outside and make sure to wear sunscreen) and release more endorphins. Make it a group activity when you can as well. Exercising in a social setting can make the act of exercising in itself more enjoyable and doable. And in the end, who doesn’t want to come back to school in the fall looking their best?
8. Attend a Seminar or Workshop
If there’s something you’re really interested in but don’t have time to pursue at school, summer is the perfect opportunity to let that interest take hold. If you like art or writing, for example, take some summer writing workshops or art classes that may be offered at your local library or on a nearby school’s campus. Explore something you’ve always wanted to try, but just never had the time to.
9. Explore the City
I never knew how many attractions were available in my own hometown until after I had already gone away to college. When I came home for my first summer, many of my college friends who were also from my hometown (but had attended other high schools), showed me a wide array of places I had never been to. Keep an eye out for areas of town that have great restaurants, bars, and clubs for that fun Friday night with your friends—but also check for some good theatre, museums, and concerts that you may have never known existed. Larger city parks (like, for me, Forest Park in St. Louis) usually house more than one of these attractions, so just by traveling to one area you can discover a multitude of fun activities. But as always, remember to stay in a group if you’re in an unfamiliar part of town. Be safe—while also being classy!
10. Take Some “You” Time!
While it’s great to have an eventful summer, remember to relax and focus on you. Some alone time can be a good thing. Keep a journal, decorate your room, shop around the mall—do something that you enjoy that doesn’t necessarily have to be done with other people all the time.
Your entire summer shouldn’t be limited to these ten things, but the most important concept is making sure that you maintain an active summer but also get that feeling of elation. After all, you did make it through that school year; perhaps you didn’t get all the grades you wanted, or perhaps you were more stressed out than you would have liked. But regenerating over the summer can certainly lead to a more positive school year in the fall. The more relaxed and prepared you are for the upcoming semester, the more successful you will be.
It’s hard to acknowledge that a whole month has passed during Winter Break and many students will try to put off the lingering date of the first class back for as long as they possibly can. But eventually you have to order books, make travel plans, and pack to head back. So how can you bounce back from your winter fun and make the most of your return to the land of college? There are a couple ways to cope with the looming change of pace that you are about to encounter— some may be more productive than others. One option would be to deny the inevitable, kick and scream and lock yourself in your childhood room. It should be noted here that 1. I highly doubt that will work, and 2. Any college “cred” you’ve earned from your parents since you went away might go flying out the window. There has to be another way—A way to return to school without sadness and roaring and ready for yet another semester.
If you follow these few steps, your transition from sleep-ins and free time to textbooks and dorm rooms should be a tad smoother. Remember, break may be fun, but there are plenty of advantages to being back at school too—think cleaning room standards, freedom, curfew (or lack thereof), and staples of a “college” food pyramid. So grab a pen, a piece of paper and break out your rusty note taking hand so you can jot down the important tidbits of getting ready for spring 2012.
Tip #1: Spring Cleaning is not a dated concept
One of the best ways to get ready for back to school—college age or not—is to clean up and clean out. To better prepare yourself for school get rid of clutter and old stuff. Do you have old clothes, shoes, papers, notebooks taking up mountains of space at home and in your dorm room? Make a pact to downsize and start fresh. Throw away old notebooks, donate and sell back old books, and go through old clothes to see what you wear and what you don’t. I can speak from personal experience in the cleaning department. Every time I come home from break I clean out my closet and do a goodwill run. It’s not necessary to do it every break, but let me tell you, it is a huge relief to go back to school feeling like you have your room in order and last season’s drab duds put to better use. Then, when you get back school you are left with only the stuff you wear and use on a regular basis! It makes such a difference and will leave you feeling excited to get going with the semester.
Tip #2: Treat yourself
So you’ve made the effort both at home and at school to de-clutter and simplify, now it’s time to pat yourself on the back and add a little sparkle to your newly cleaned up life. Treat yourself to new school gadgets—a bag, laptop cover, or flash drive—or maybe a fun new outfit that you can’t wait to wear all over campus. For me, I got new kicks—All Star Low-top Converse sneaks—to spice up my wardrobe and convince myself I’m ready to hit the books, looking good and feeling good too!
The same goes for school supplies! Nothing says, “I’m ready for class” like pens and notebooks, all shiny and new! Maximize all that spring-cleaning you did, and reward yourself with a little sparkle and pizzazz for your upcoming courses. By buying new accessories you will help ease the stress of changing up your routine, and will buffer the boredom that accompanies the start of class. Everyone loves pulling new school supplies out of your tote, and lining up all of your prettiest pens and highlighters to impress the professor! In my opinion, the new school sparkle alone is exciting enough to get me back to class—but that’s just me.
Tip #3: It’s a date… so mark it
Even with the new razzle dazzle pencils, post-its and a clean room ready to go, there can still be a lull in excitement to get the semester started. So the next tip I have for you is get a new planner. Now most calendars end in December (obviously) leaving you room for an upgrade. However, some agendas keep right on rolling through the New Year. It’s up to you, and your organizing preferences of course, what you do next, but here’s my advice. Get a new planner, or agenda and start fresh. Mark all the dates of things coming up in the semester, and even the summer—maybe it’s birthdays that get you going, or formals, or even graduation, but mark it all down! It is way easier to get through class and the semester if you have things to look forward to. Mark down the fun stuff (like I said, birthdays, parties, date night etc.), but also the academic dates—midterms, finals, career fairs, exams, the like. Having everything down on paper will give you a sense of what’s to come and will help you keep on track. Now, if you want to have a little extra fun with this assignment, check the web for fun events going on in your area. Maybe there are some concerts you want to save up for, or a movie that is scheduled to come out, a sporting event you can’t live without seeing, etc. Plan ahead and write it all in your planner. Visualizing is a great way to set goals, make plans, and prepare yourself for what’s to come.
Tip #4: Spring Break bodies are not just for Spring Break…
Now as cliché as it sounds, getting fit is a great New Year’s resolution. It’s easy to over eat and cut back on the exercise routine during break because you can always get serious “next year”. Well the New Year is here, and getting fit is not only a great way to start out the year, but also a great way to start the semester! Have you seen Legally Blonde? If you’re like me, you’ve seen it at least a bagillion times so here’s a little a quote you should remember: “Exercise gives you endorphins and endorphins make you happy, and happy people just don’t shoot their husbands”. Most of this quote applies to us college co-eds–endorphins will make you happy and give you more energy to run around campus with your books and what not, and hopefully, for most of us, suppress the urge to shoot anybody. Let’s hope.
But seriously, exercising can help make the saddest of days just a little happier, and put a much-needed pep in every step. It’s the preconceived notion that exercise makes you tired, but in fact, it does the exact opposite! Even if you aren’t into hard core cardio or intense weight work outs give your body some much needed movement. Even walking to the end of campus and back just to get some steps in is a good way to ensure you aren’t staying stationary for too long. You will be able to focus and get more schoolwork done if you aren’t sluggish and tired. Plus, it won’t hurt your spring break plans to tighten up that figure of yours just for fun—no beach required (although booking a trip wouldn’t be bad for your motivation either!)
So all in all, it’s important to remind yourself of all the little bonuses of being back at school. Think positively and remember all the fun times, study parties (and real ones) that are in store for the semester and try to lose the ‘tude when it comes to moving back in. You will love being back as soon as you get reacquainted and settled in. And hey! If all else fails, make plans for the weekend as soon as you get back so you have something to immediately celebrate!
I’m reading An Introduction to Literature