summer break

Consider a “Staycation” This Summer

staycation

Summer is officially here and vacations are on everyone’s mind. Whether it’s a friend or a neighbor, I’m sure you know someone planning an elaborate vacation this season. But is a big vacation to Florida or the Bahamas out of your reach? No worries! Here’s why you should love “staycations”.

Give Your Wallet a Break

It’s no secret; vacations are very expensive. The cost of hotels, gas, dinning out, and any activities adds up very quickly. American Express estimates the average per person cost of a vacation is $1,145! If you’re particularly tight for cash, like most college students are, it can put a damper on your vacation. Easily avoid those costs by deciding to take a staycation! You already pay rent, so why pay even more to sleep in a strange bed? You can also cook meals at home during your staycation or only go out to eat once or twice – instead of every night. The main thing your money goes to during a staycation is activities. You can do more extravagant things with the money you save from not traveling.

Reduce Your Stress

Planning a vacation can become very stressful. Getting your friends or family on the same page with where you want to go/how much you want to spend is always a hassle. Not to mention, traveling is stressful as well. Rushing to get to the airport so you don’t miss your flight and rushing to be gone by checkout at the end of your stay add unneeded stress. Instead, you can make your own schedule during your “staycation”. There’s also no need to rush because you’re already where you need to be – now it’s time to just relax. As a college student, trust me when I say you need less stress.

Enjoy the Comfort of Your Own Home

There’s nothing more unsettling than having to sleep in a strange bed – and potentially having to worry about it being dirty or even having bed bugs. With a “staycation”, you and your family/friends can sleep in your own comfy beds. You can relax on your own couch and cook in your own, familiar kitchen. You also don’t have to worry about forgetting anything because you already have everything you need. There’s no better feeling than not having to wake up to a screeching alarm, in your own bed, knowing you can do whatever you want today.

Benefits to the Local Economy

This is the biggest positive of a staycation – giving back to your town. Especially during tough times, it’s very important to support local businesses. Instead of traveling to Florida and eating at chain restaurants – find interesting restaurants you haven’t tried in your town. Plan a day to go to the local museum or you city’s theatre. Supporting your local economy benefits everyone, making your town a more pleasant to live.

So, next time you’re stuck on where to spend your summer break, consider a “staycation”! It’s cheaper, less stressful and you get to sleep in your own bed!

Keeping in Touch Over the Summer

It’s summer break! The sun is shining, the birds are chirping, and you’re ready to make the most of it with your friends when it hits you… They’re all scattered across the four corners of the earth. Going to school with diverse people from different locations is great until it’s time for everyone to go back to their hometown. Missing the company of your friends is a struggle we all face over summer break. But never fear! Here are a few tips for keeping in touch over the summer:

Texting

For all the think-pieces written about how texting is killing our generation, overall it’s a positive thing. Now don’t get me wrong, I’m not saying you should be texting your friends from school on your phone all the time. That’s a recipe for missing out on life. But some people anxiously feel they need to have a purpose for texting their friends before they can push send. However, receiving a text from your mates is almost always a welcomed surprise. If something reminds you of someone, shoot them a text! See a billboard for their favorite band? See that one food they love? See a friend from home you know they’d get along with? Shoot them a text! It’s easy to keep in touch by texting, But even better than a text is…

Snapchat

Snapchat, in my opinion, is the pinnacle of staying in touch over the summer. Snapchat will let you share what’s happening in your life, live and directly to your friends. They’ll be able to see your face, the world around you, your friends from home, and anything else you can find! The app includes great filters for making any occasion into a fun episode featuring your life. The platform is perfect for random, unpolished moments as well. When it comes to quick ways to show someone you’re thinking of them, you can’t go wrong with sending a snap!

Skype

We all know skype has some drawbacks, but even the most ardent critic of the program has to admit – it’s a wonderful free tool for keeping in touch with people. Skype is great for limiting data  usage when you’re connecting with a friend during their international vacation. Unlike Snapchat, there isn’t a limit on the length of video you share. Instead, you can actively video conference your friends anywhere in the world. Schedule a time each week (or more/less often, depending) and video conference with your friends for a bit. Texting is great, but actually seeing a person’s face and hearing them talk does wonders for strengthening a friendship.

Doing the same stuff

During the school year you have plenty to talk about with your friends. Unfortunately things change over the summer and once you’ve told each other how your week’s been, conversations can get a bit slow. The best solution to this is planning to do shared or similar activities, individually. You both might read the same book, watch the same TV show, or see the same movie! It gives a quick and easy topic to jump back to when the conversation gets a bit slow. In addition to discussing your experiences, you’ll have an opportunity to talk about and plan which activities you’d both be willing to try. Who knows, they may suggest something you’ve never thought of before!

Not having your friends around during summer break can leave you feeling lonely. Of course, nothing can really beat seeing someone in person, but hopefully these tips encourage you to use the technology you know and love to stay connected. On the upside, August is only a short three months away!

Sacrificing Your Summer for School

As the spring semester comes to a close, many college students are focused on that great summer break until late August or September. For some students, though, they are focused on those couple weeks they have off before classes resume again. Yes, there are really people out there crazy enough to take summer classes.

Summer School

There is a negative connotation around taking summer classes because of what it meant in high school: you failed and this is the only solution to passing on. That is not the case in college. Taking some credits during summer semesters means you have less of a workload during regular semesters, or you could graduate early. The classes are typically smaller, so you have a chance to connect with your fellow classmates and get more one-on-one with a professor. Many students can be afraid of professors because of their busy schedules in the regular semesters. During summer semesters, they are there to focus on you and fewer students than in other semesters. Starting to sound pretty good, isn’t it?

Of course, there are some drawbacks, as with anything in life. Taking summer courses means your summer break is interrupted. Some days you will have class all day, meaning you can’t go swimming or the heat will be sweltering. Some days you will have a night course, which means all your socializing has to be done during the day. In addition, many summer semesters are very shortened versions of regular semesters. This means longer class times and shorter periods of time to complete assignments, not to mention more things you have to learn in a day. The drawbacks do certainly put a damper on things, but every con should be compared with a pro.

For many, summer school just seems like an absurd option. For some, it’s a great chance. What do you think? Leave your opinions below!

Off-Campus Involvement: Giving Back to Your Community

Get Involved

Whether you’re a commuter or an on-campus student, many universities want you to get involved in any way possible. This can range from attending professors’ office hours, attending a campus event or getting involved in a student organization. What some fail to realize is there are ways to get involved in the community off campus, too! Now that summer break has began many on-campus clubs and activities are finished meeting until the fall, but there are plenty of other ways to keep busy. Here are a few suggestions for you to keep in mind:

1. Volunteer at a local senior citizen home. Most residents love telling their stories to visitors, and unfortunately, many of them don’t get visitors. Volunteer! Ask them about their lives, their favorite colors, their favorite objects. If one lady likes blue and loves sweaters, get her a blue sweater. If one man loves drawing and made a life of it, get him high quality colored pencils. Bringing a smile to someone else’s face is a rewarding experience. Don’t miss out on it!

2. Hold your own fundraiser for a cause of your choice. There’s many organizations out there in need of money and/or food. Hold a bake sale to raise money for the local humane society or the WWF. Get a group of friends together and have a food or book drive for the local food pantry or for underprivileged children. Little acts of kindness go a long way, and that can be especially true in this case.

3. Volunteer at a local church or outside organization. Many places have Habitat for Humanity branches on and off campus. Get involved off campus! Volunteer at a church and offer to hold dinners for the homeless. Many campuses also provide a service that will let you find the volunteer group that’s just right for you. Be proactive and find a group that you can help.

While being involved on campus is valuable, it is important to realize that we will eventually leave our college and be a part of a larger community.  Whether you’re visiting with the elderly or volunteering with a local group, it feels great to become an active member of the community. With so many different opportunities and ways to participate there is no reason not to. Don’t delay any longer!

Do you have any other suggestions for getting involved? Leave a comment below, or talk about your own experience in off-campus involvement.

Things to Work on This Summer (Besides Your Tan)

As the semester is ending, the only thing on my mind is summer. While I wish I could spend my summer lounging around, the sad reality is that I can’t. This summer I’ll be working part-time, working two on-site internships, as well as blogging for eCampus.com. Maybe you don’t want to spend your summer like me, but there’s something everyone can do to be productive during break. The following are my recommendations for ways to have a productive summer break.

enjoying the sun

1. Work. Working allows me to save up money so I don’t have to work as much during the school year. If working part-time is the only thing you’ll be doing this summer, then you’ll still have plenty of time to relax and hang out with your friends.

2. Intern. Internships are the best way to get experience related to your field. Unfortunately, many internships don’t pay, so doing one in the summer can allow you to work without trying to juggle school and work too. But the important thing about internships isn’t the money; it’s getting real experience. Internships are also a great way to gain pieces for your professional portfolio. If you don’t know where to start looking, check out internships.com (that’s how I got this position)!

3. Volunteer. There’s nothing more rewarding than doing something good. Countless organizations take volunteers, especially during the summer. Volunteering is a way to do something you’re passionate about outside of school.

4. Study abroad. If there were one thing I wish I could do, it would be to study abroad. While it may be pricey, there are options to take care of the finances. There are numerous national study abroad programs, and your school may have its own study abroad program. Learning or working in a foreign country is a great resume enhancer.

5. Personal improvement. If the above don’t seem like your thing, you at least owe yourself some “me” time after a long semester. Start a new fitness routine, read a book, or take up a new hobby. There are endless ways to spend your summer. You don’t want to waste three months with nothing to show.

There is nothing wrong with relaxing for a few days after finals and enjoying the sun, but it is important to have a plan. The longer you sit around, the harder it will be to get back on schedule.  What are your plans for making this summer the best it can be?