Whether you’re taking summer classes, working at an internship or part-time job, or have the entire summer off with minimal obligations, the 3 months is going to go by incredibly fast. Before you know it, we’ll be back in classes and buying books. Between now and then, there’s a good amount of time of which to make the most. Here are some ideas on what you can do to improve your summer and enjoy the time off:
1. Go places for the day. This is my favorite part of the summer. If you don’t have a vacation planned, this is an especially good idea because it always feels like a mini-vacation. Look up places to visit and plan a day out of it. I’ll share my favorite places to go in the coming weeks. This gives you something to look forward to and makes the summer a whole lot more fun. For years, my boyfriend and I have been going somewhere every Friday but now that he has a full-time internship, that has to end. I don’t think we’ll stop going places this summer, but we definitely have to change days. This is especially great if you look up places at the beginning of the summer and make a list of them. Each time you want to go somewhere, you can choose the one that works best for that day based on the weather and whatever other conditions.
2. Stay on a normal sleep schedule. Just like all of the other breaks, it’s very easy to fall into the trap of staying up into the latest hours of the night (or potentially the early hours of the morning) and then sleeping in until 12, 3, 5, or even later. Don’t become nocturnal this summer! There’s a lot that you’ll miss out on. I’m not saying not to have some late nights enjoying yourself, but don’t make it a constant habit. Try to get to bed within the same time frame each night. You’ll wake up around the same time, too, and as a fall back, you can set an alarm. Sleeping is great, and this is absolutely a time to catch up on all of those lost Z’s from the year, but do so wisely and in a way that you won’t regret later.
3. If you don’t already know, learn how to do laundry. Learn to cook and/or bake! Learning important life skills is important, especially depending on your living situation. While a lot of people are proficient in the kitchen and laundry room, there is still a fair amount of individuals who don’t know how to do one of these things. There is no excuse- everyone can do laundry or cook if they take the time to understand the process and learn. At this point, you have 3 months to figure things out, and there is most likely someone who can help you learn. Take time out to discover the art of making something other than ramen, and learn how to separate laundry so that you get the longest wear possible out of your clothes. Eventually, you’re going to have to take this step that is part of growing up, but it’s easy to push off. Don’t do that! Learn now so you can put those skills to work during the year.
4. Put your phone/computer/etc. down. Everyone has been talking about and sharing the Youtube video about the importance of looking up from your phone. Our cell phones have, sadly, become our best friends and our biggest support system. Believe it or not, there was a time we were able to function without them. Try walking away from your phone. I’m not saying to go out of the house or run to the store and leave it behind; that is why we got cell phones, after all…to be able to contact someone in case of emergency or if we needed to talk to them quickly. But why do you need to be checking Twitter at the beach? Or Snapchatting at the movies? Keep your phone in your pocket or purse and try living life through your own eyes with the people present in the moment. At home, put your phone in your room and don’t check it all day. You’ll feel incredibly liberated, and there’s a good chance you may see something you’ve never seen before because you were too busy on your phone.
5. Find somewhere to volunteer your time. It can be really difficult to find time to give during the school year, with the combination of school, work, friends, etc. Summer seems to always give us a fair amount of free time, whether or not you are working or in school. Think about what you’re interested and passionate about, and make a point to set up a volunteering schedule. Even if it is once a week or month, this will make you feel a lot better and will give you something to look forward to. There are a million options for volunteering. It’s just a matter of finding what is the best fit for you. If you don’t want to go it alone, get friends or family involved. That way you’ll all be held accountable to go volunteer, and it can be really fun doing this with them. This will no doubt be the most rewarding part of your summer!
6. Spend time with your friends. Living at school makes it hard for me to see my friends from home as often as I’d like to. It’s easy to start living a double life and separating the two. Reconnect with your friends and start making plans. There is a million things to do in the summer, and no reason not to spend time with them. Make sure you maintain your friendships- you don’t want to lose them simply because you’d rather lay around or be alone.
7. Meet up with your UIC friends. People at school are from so many different towns and states. If you’re able to, set up times or weekends where you can visit each other. This is one of the things I’m looking forward to the most. Three months is a long time to go without seeing the people you spend so much time with during the school year. If there is absolutely no way for you to visit one another, talk on the phone or video chat; don’t spend the whole summer just texting each other.
8. Start an exercise routine. What better time to get in shape? Take advantage of the weather and set up a routine, and actually follow it. So many workout plans fail just because people give up on them because they don’t see immediate results or for any other reason. Don’t be one of those people;it’s a lot harder to start something up again a million times than it is to continue it. While you’re at it, change your eating habits if they aren’t the best. I’m not saying don’t check out all the ice cream places. What I am saying is to grab the fresh, in-season fruits and vegetables at the grocery store. Summer is a great time to get healthy. What excuse do you really have not to?
9. Try out restaurants and bakeries you’ve never been to. I love finding different places to try out over the summer, especially when places open up their outdoor seating for the season. See what your neighborhood or the surrounding ones have to offer. Head out with friends or family and check out new places, or those places you’ve always seen but never gone to. You might find a hidden gem or a new favorite place.
10. Take time to think. I always recommend this, but for a good reason. Life moves too fast, especially when you’re distracted by tests, quizzes, and online assignments. Summer is the time to revisit your thoughts and determine if you are on track with school and happy with your life. If you are, this will make you feel organized and prepared. If not, summer is a perfect opportunity to set up advising appointments or change up your schedule. Don’t just ignore the real world during summer-make a point to be prepared. It’s important to know whether or not you are happy.