All students are familiar with that unmistakable ‘end-of-term feeling’, the one of exhaustion mixed with claustrophobia and desperation to escape the three streets of St Andrews. However, now that it’s summer and life is a lot less hectic, we’re even starting to miss the Bubble. After the glorious months of June and July we’ve definitely reached our limit for sleeping in and have exhausted the many TV series on Netflix. So, what can we do now?
The ASC suggest that to get the most out of our lengthy summer break, “it’s about getting the right balance between taking time to rest and involving yourself in other activities.” What are some of these other activities that we can do? If you need some inspiration for how to use the rest of your summer wisely, here are some suggestions:
- “Spring” Cleaning: We’ve not exactly had much summer weather here in the UK and this is the perfect activity to do on a wet and rainy day. Summer is a new season so why not take some time and clear out the proverbial cobwebs by sorting out your wardrobe, organising your books and deep-cleaning your bedroom.
- Learn a new skill: The long summer holidays provide a great opportunity to learn something new. Why not use the time you have to try try something you’ve always wanted to do but have never had the chance? Online tutorials make it much easier to learn new skills, with anything from learning the guitar to a new language all available online in short video installments. If you’re interested in crafting, then scrapbooking can be a wonderful, reflective activity, allowing you to record your summer adventures or to reflect on the festivities of the past semester. If you like to channel all of your creative energy into capturing already existing beauty, then photography provides an excellent creative outlet and a great excuse to explore the outdoors. Why not experiment with some of the features on your iPhone or dust off your camera and play around with Photoshop? Either way, the ASC encourages you to “try something completely new – learn a new skill [and] develop talents you didn’t think you had.”
- Practice your cooking skills: Even if you consider yourself to be an accomplished chef, use your extensive holiday period to branch out. As students we are all accomplished in the art of making pesto pasta and chilli but why not experiment with different fresh, local ingredients? Try out some new techniques and recipes and you never know, you might find a new favourite! If you don’t know where to start why not have a look at these websites: http://www.telegraph.co.uk/foodanddrink/recipes/11821035/Cheap-and-easy-recipes-for-students-on-a-budget.html, http://www.eatingwell.com/recipes/19339/cooking-methods/quick-easy/budget?logout=1 and http://deliciouslyella.com/
- Volunteering: You don’t always have to travel far away to help out; you can marshal for local events or charity fundraisers, find out if there is a kids holiday scheme you can help with, volunteer in a drop in centre or even in a charity shop. This is one of the ASC’s top suggestions because, as they point out, “not only will you be able to help others, but it can also benefit your own personal development.”
- Read: Vary the types of book you read – remember, ‘variety is the spice of life’ after all. Also, try to make sure that what you’re reading is different from your course material to widen your horizons and to give yourself a renewed appreciation of it when you return to it. The ASC also recommend using some of the extensive holiday period to prepare for the new semester of University. Spending some time reading around your subject or even your assigned reading list can be a great way to make the transition into next year much smoother. Visiting different people and places can also be a great way to add academic depth to your education without cracking the spine of a heavy textbook.
- Exercising: This can be anything from walking more, to yoga or long-distance running. The ASC even suggest that “it can be good for both body and mind and there is some evidence supporting general improvements in wellbeing.” Have a look for summer classes being offered by your local leisure centre or explore some of the popular walking routes in your local area.
- Work experience: By trying to get some informal shadowing experience you have the potential to really boost your CV. If you need some help regarding where to look, try the university website for information on some of the internships offered by schools within the university: https://www.st-andrews.ac.uk/students/academic/internships/. Even if you’ve got absolutely no idea what you’d like to do when you graduate, work experience will allow you to spend time in a working environment and help to give you a picture of what you’d like to do (as well as what you definitely wouldn’t!)
- Odd jobs: If you’ve got elderly neighbours or friends, they’d really appreciate some help with household tasks. You could find yourself doing anything from painting a fence to sorting through old documents and photographs. Whatever you end up doing, you’ll gain a wonderful friend and provide an otherwise lonely neighbour with comfort and friendship.
- Spend time with old friends and family: Depending on where you live it might have been quite some time since you were last home, so make the most of this time you have now. Be nostalgic, rediscover the great things about where you live. Get together with old friends and reminisce about old adventures and then, have some new ones! Instead of falling into familiar rhythms make some new plans and do something you’ve never done before. Being a tourist in your hometown can be a great way to discover all that your area has to offer.
- Have fun: This is, in my opinion, the most important. Whatever you end up doing with the rest of your summer, make sure you enjoy it. Long summer breaks with so much potential are a luxury which we have for only a relatively short period of time, so make the most of it but don’t forget to have fun!