Exam season might be putting you in a state of eternal panic and melancholy, but take a minute to think of the afterlife following the agony. As per usual, we have been granted an extraordinarily long amount of time for summer, prolonging the six weeks we were used to at school to three whole months. Despite the sheer length of this period, it always seems to come and go in the blink of an eye, and before you know it you’re back at uni wondering what on earth you did for all that time. Of course, a certain amount of moping around and watching daytime television might be necessary in order to recover from exams, but I would suggest that the expanse of three months could be put to better use. Without any further ado, therefore, here are 8 tips for a fabulous and worthwhile summer.
1. Rediscover an old hobby
Scrapbooking, baking, pyrotechnics… Whatever it may be, this summer presents an opportunity to return to an activity that’s been cast aside whilst you’ve been away. You finally have the time to do these things without feeling guilty, so make the most of it!
Half of your wardrobe at uni and half at home? Somehow accumulated tonnes of stuff throughout the year? Moving back in with all of your belongings makes you realise just how many of those belongings have outgrown their use, or didn’t have any use in the first place (at this point I would turn to anything you were given during Freshers’ Week), making it a really good time to have a sort-out. It’s good for the mind to declutter, and you’ll actually be able to see the floor in your room at home (in theory).
3. Give back
It does sound sentimental, but giving back to your home community really is a worthwhile way to spend your time. You’ll be helping the people and institutions that have probably helped you at some point, and you’ll feel a boost of optimism merely taking part. You could volunteer at a local library (such as assisting with the Summer Reading Challenge, which I would highly recommend), donate your time to a charity shop or fundraising event, or even do something one-off such as giving blood.
4. Delve into literature
Remember that novel you started to read but never actually finished? Summer is the perfect opportunity to consume books like never before, and whether it’s renowned classics or trashy beach romances, reading is not only something you can do whilst soaking up the sun, but it’s also a good way to stimulate your brain away from studies. You could check out Amazon’s ‘100 Books to Read in a Lifetime’ list, which covers everything from Hemingway to Stephen Hawking, and get ideas from there.
5. Work work work work work
Basically, this is what you need to do in order to fund the seemingly endless amount of time before the next payment from Student Finance. However, this doesn’t have to be the same old thing you were doing before university, the menial employment that you despised for making you get out of bed. You could try something totally different, or try to go back into your previous job with a more positive attitude. Working over the summer might be necessary and dull, but you can definitely make it more enjoyable than it might have seemed before.
By this I don’t mean travelling the world, as that’s probably not the most realistic option for us student folk. I don’t even mean going on holiday as such, but rather going out and exploring, taking day trips to places you’ve always intended to go. Of course, these things tend to come with a cost, but you can minimise this by going to the coast instead of a theme park, or even taking your own picnic to places in order to avoid extortionate café prices.
7. Doing the family rounds
Over the past academic year, you’ve most likely experienced alienation from those family members who you now only ever see at Christmas. Why not take a few days to visit the ones who might live a little further afield, and have a jolly good catch-up? Yes, you may be asked the question dreaded by all students, “So, what will you do after you graduate?”, but you’ll just have to grin and bear it, unless you do actually know what it is you want to do, in which case I applaud you. If you’re anything like me, your older cousins have already started reproducing, and there are now lots of unknown little people running around, so it’s probably advisable to spend time with them before they stop being cute and become stroppy teenagers who glare at you from dark corners.
At the end of the academic year, we tend to let things such as healthy eating or exercise slip. On top of exam stress, this can make your body feel exhausted. If the weather’s decent (please please please), it’s so much easier to be outside and enjoy it, and it’s also highly likely that you’ll fancy some fresh fruit over junk food (is that a step too far?). Try to be a bit nicer to yourself and stamp out those bad habits; you’ll be surprised how much better you feel.
Most of all, though, take this summer to really relax before September inevitably arrives. Remind yourself of how much you’ve achieved this academic year, and take a well-deserved breather before we embark upon another year of study. Enjoy!