So all your friends are back home or abroad for the summer, and where are you? On campus. Whether you stayed for summer classes or to keep your apartment (like me), you have a long three months ahead of you. I’ve only been stuck here for three days and I’m ready to pull my braids out (#teamnatural). How will I ever survive?
I’m pursuing a Creative Writing concentration, so my main option is to hole up and write a novel—if the writing gods are merciful. However, if you are more of an Accounting major, then fret not, because I’m here to offer some universal tips for avoiding the summer doldrums.
1. Get Out of Bed
First, try to create a flexible, but attainable routine. In these three lonesome days in my two-bedroom apartment, I’ve realized that it’s really easy to stay in bed streaming Netflix Originals all day. You’d be surprised how determined a lazy person can be in the face of constant boredom. But, starting today, I’ve created a loose schedule to prevent all-day binging of “Jessica Jones” (yes, I know, I’m late to the party—the show’s been out since 2015).
Here’s what I’ve come up with: I wake up at nine, get out of bed by ten, make breakfast, shower and get ready for the day, then pick a room to clean or some task to complete, such as reading at least fifty pages of “By the Light of the Moon” by Dean Koontz. Clearly, this doesn’t take up even half of twenty-four hours, but it’s a start.
You’d be surprised how much more energy you have when you get up and do things rather than stay in bed vegging-out in front of a screen. I know it’s tempting, but start a routine and you’ll see how much more rewarding it is. For those of you who have summer classes, you’re already ahead of the curve, so maybe the occasional late-night Netflix binge isn’t as bad.
2. Get Lost
Depending on how much accessibility you have, go exploring. If your school’s in a rural area, go hiking. Here in Athens, Georgia, there are plenty of nature trails around. Unfortunately, for the most part, I hate the outdoors, so my exploring will mostly involve finding shortcuts through campus for next semester, when I’ll need to get from north campus to south campus in less than fifteen minutes.
If you’re in a city, go to museums, concerts and other events. This is a great way to meet new people and learn more about the city you’re in. I’m originally from Atlanta, so Athens used to feel desolate, but with the aid of my roommate’s car, I’ve discovered a few cool places near my school. Simply “getting lost” can lead to finding nooks and crannies in and around your campus that you never would have known about otherwise. Plus, it can take up a great deal of your time over the next three months.
3. Get Ahead
As uncool as it sounds, get ahead for the upcoming semester. For anyone taking summer classes, disregard this one, because you honestly do need a break. But, for anyone just sitting around for three months like me, start looking up syllabi (if possible) and doing some research on the classes and professors. The more you know, the better—trust me.
For example, I was in a wonderful three-hour film class last semester, and I didn’t even know that my professor was a phenomenal and fairly famous author. Afterwards, thinking about how annoyed I had been that he always talked over the three-hour time, I felt silly because people would literally pay just to hear this guy talk (well, technically, I was paying tuition).
Anyway, learning a little about the professor via the department website or just old-fashioned Google might give you a leg up within the first couple weeks of the semester, since you could introduce yourself and connect with them based on their work or interests.
If you know you’re taking a Twentieth-Century British Novel course, you can bet your butt that you should know something about Virginia Woolf and Samuel Beckett. Small efforts this summer could help prevent those first few sleepless nights or give you that boost at the end of the semester, when the professor remembers you over the guy who always left five minutes before lecture was over.
4. Get Passionate
Do what you love. During the craze of the fall and spring semesters, you can’t just take a breath and paint a picture or write a short story. So, whatever makes you happy, do it now! Take advantage of this free time, because three months isn’t very long in the grand scheme of things.
Remember what you wanted to do on those weekends you had to waste catching up from the previous school week? Since freshman year, I’ve been saying I’ll read this one book, and this summer, I finally have the time.
My goals this summer include: writing some of my life story (because who doesn’t want to get a jump start on their memoir for when they get famous); writing short stories to submit to online publications, and exercising and attempting to eat vegetables other than corn (I hate all things green, except money). So, my hands are full. Besides the vegetable part, I actually enjoy writing, and put on some Kendrick or Drake and I’ll happily work up a sweat.
Lastly, look at this summer as a time to learn more about yourself and surroundings. Have fun and let loose. You’re that much closer to your degree!