For university and college students, summer becomes an extension of the school year. There’s the transition from working part-time to full-time for a few months, but the theme stays the same.
You most likely have a busy schedule. Yet the warm nights, long days and time spent outside carries with it feelings connected with “summer.” You often miss the opportunities to slow down and do activities simply because you can. Reading for pleasure? Not always possible when holding down two jobs and attending summer classes. Spending a weekend at a cottage? Everyone you know who owns a cottage is just as busy as you are. How about sleeping in? Yeah, I don’t have time for that either.
But the truth is, it’s all about making time. Making time to read a good book, making time to visit friends, making time to slow down. Of course you can always use the excuse of being busy, and hey you probably are; but you’ve made the time to get things done, so setting aside time for yourself is certainly possible. So with a new academic year fast approaching, TalentEgg has put together a list of things to do before you jump back into academic life.
Read a good book
Reading a good book is a form of escapism unparalleled by anything else. And nobody’s saying you have to tackle Dostoevsky or James Joyce, there’s plenty of warmth to be found in a collection of short stories. Alice Munroe’s Runaway or Chuck Klosterman’s Sex, Drugs and Cocopuffs – while radically different reading experiences – are short, poignant and easy to pick up. There’s nothing like finding the perfect spot to read in a park on a warm sunny day even if it’s for 45 minutes.
Another great option for those with limited time: The comic book or the “graphic novel.” No longer regulated to superheroes and monsters, there are a ton of creative and unique stories are being told in panel form.
Draft a budget
Not the most exciting of topics to follow up pleasure reading with, but an important one nonetheless. If you’re terrible with money (like I am), then drafting a tentative budget for the first school term is never a bad idea. Nothing has to be set in stone, but a realistic outlook of what you’ll be working with when it comes time to spend money is vital to not calling mom asking for a handout.
If you live on your own or with a roommate, odds are you budget for food and rent already. But if you leave home come September, then everything from food to textbooks should be included in the tentative budget. When it comes time to make the big purchases (i.e. furniture, tuition for the semester) not having your financials in order can be a scary process. It doesn’t need to be down to the tiniest detail, but having separate categories for school, food, and miscellaneous items (that nice pair of jeans, or nights out) is a great idea.
Spend time with those who mean the most
Distance throughout the academic year comes in various forms. It can be physical distance if you attend school far from home, but it can also be an emotional and mental distance.
Juggling lectures, essays, part-time work and sleep can often leave little time to spend time with those you care about. Seeing your parents every night might not seem like a big deal when living at home, but if you plan on moving out come September, the next opportunity to spend quality time with them isn’t always concrete.
I often make the mistake of assuming those close to me understand that I’m busy and that they have no problem sharing me with my other responsibilities. But just like everything else in our lives, our relationships with others take time and effort. So while you don’t have to see that best friend every day, making the time for coffee, or even a walk through the city will mean a lot not only to them, but to you as well. Remember: when spending time with those people make sure to give them all of you. There’s nothing more annoying than going out for coffee with someone constantly checking their phone.
Create good habits
Summertime can mean many things, including showing up to work on three hours of sleep and forgoing all the groceries in your fridge for late night take-out. These are two things we’ve all done at one point or another. There’s nothing wrong with doing this on occasion, but making this a habit during the academic year – a period of time that’s often stressful and time consuming – isn’t a good idea.
Eating healthy and making sure you have energy is half the equation to keep up with a busy schedule. Getting enough sleep is also important. The last thing you want to do is nod off at work or during a lecture (despite the possibility of it being a boring class).
While you still have the luxury of time, it’s important to get into these habits now, and make sure you stick with them when it matters. You can’t really call something a habit unless you do it consistently, and it’s a lot harder to pick up a healthy habit while in the midst of dealing with a packed school schedule. By starting now, getting enough sleep and eating well will seem like routine when you start school again.
Organize around class schedule
Everyone attending post-secondary education understands the horror of dealing with a class schedule. That one day in the middle of August that the school designates as the time period for thousands of students to register their classes all at once.
Yeah, it’s not exactly fun. But once your schedule for the first term is relatively stable, it’s a good idea to organize everything else around it. If you have Tuesdays off, think about setting that day to pick up an extra shift at work. If you happen to have Friday off, think about using the long weekend to catch up with friends, family or school work.
It’s all about maximizing time – knowing that you have a three hour break between classes allows you the opportunity to plan ahead and schedule appointments, or just get work done.
As September gets closer and closer, the natural instinct is to panic. Did I pick the right classes? Do I have everything I need to move in? When does school actually start? Instead of panicking about things that haven’t arrived yet, just relax.
Enjoy the month of minimal responsibility you have left, and soak up some sun. Go to the beach and attempt the tan you’ve always wondered was possible. Once you do the preliminary prep work, focus on dealing with things as they come.
Remember as summer draws to a close, make time to do the things that make you happy. Even if it’s as simple as having a drink on a patio, taking time to enjoy yourself is just as important as maintaining the responsibilities of a university student. Once September rolls around, rejoice in the fact that it’s back to the late night cram sessions, bowls of ramen noodles and early morning coffee runs.