Have you hit a summer lull? Rescue yours from boredom now!
With just a few weeks left of summer, many students will be going stir-crazy and dreadfully bored after so many months with nothing to do. Even a two week holiday in that time would feel a million years ago and not nearly long enough. Others may have been working to save money for university, with no chance of planning anything properly (especially if they only have the odd day off or work shifts). For many, the endless possibilities which summer usually represents has long since faded away.
Take control and jump-start your summer before it’s gone again for another year! With our tips below, you can rescue your summer and actually have things to talk about when you see your university/school/college friends again in a few weeks time (or when making new ones – no one wants to be boring and have nothing to say).
If you’re already studying abroad, there’s bound to be a lot of friends from school who you haven’t seen in a while. And because you don’t see them often anymore, communication may have broken down. Take a look at your contacts on your phone, or your Facebook friends list: Who haven’t you seen in a while that you used to be good friends with? Or who is that person you’ve been trying to make plans with only for something to always come up? Use what time you have left to renew some old friendships; it will only become more awkward the longer you wait.
While friends may be completing internships which they have had planned months in advance, you can still find ways to improve your CV, experience and skills in a short amount of time. Look around at the volunteering opportunities around you – there are so many you probably don’t know of! During the summer there are many special one-off events in big cities and small towns/villages, like fetes, festivals, fairs etc. Just ask: no one is going to turn away an offer for free help, so don’t fear rejection. If you have to put together a CV to show what experience and skills you do have, don’t be afraid if it’s a little light or sparse; be honest that you want to improve yourself, as it’s a very noble endeavour. However, you must still show that you are interested in the cause or event you are volunteering for.
The brilliant thing is that these may be one-off events, or just commitments for a week/fortnight/month. Many volunteering opportunities, like working in a charity shop, will allow you to work around your own plans – however once you make a commitment, stick to it!
With all these tips, you should still make room for a few lazy days (just as long as you don’t waste time aimlessly looking for something do). Have you got those DVDs or books in your room which you’ve been meaning to get round to? It’s likely that during the hectic Spring period of assignments and exams, you didn’t have much time to yourself. It’s important for your wellbeing to relax and make the most of your free time now, before you begin the Autumn/Fall term. Get started on a TV series which your friends have been telling you all about. If you’re preparing to move away soon to study, we actually recommend finding out what’s popular in other countries as a way of starting conversations with new people and not feeling left out – for example, read about which television shows are currently popular in the US or the UK so you can join conversations easily, get an idea of the country’s sense of humour etc.
You’ve probably received your reading list for the next term, or at least you’ll have a rough idea of what modules you’ll be doing. Usually your university department will give you a list of recommended resources that would benefit you even if they’re not compulsory. If not, go and ask them what they recommend in person; you look enthusiastic and eager to learn, and it gives you an opportunity to introduce yourself so they remember you from their other students (useful when it comes to finding someone to provide a reference). You can always read around topics, and see what others recommend as reputable texts; alternatively pick a book or resource which approaches the topic from an interesting new perspective which is more appealing – it is your summer after all!
While September means fresh starts, you may also like to think about what will happen at the end of that academic year. What are your plans overall? If it’s your last year, you should start having a few ideas about the next step, whether employment, travel or further study. Applications for postgraduate study will open around now; and though these deadlines are usually a lot later than undergraduate, it’s worth keeping in mind. Browse postgraduate options available for an undergraduate in your field, as well as the kinds of scholarship opportunities available. If you’re interested and a family member would be funding this, it’s a good idea to present the idea to them now so you can show that you’re serious.
Paul Ellett is the editor for Hotcourses Abroad. His role is to plan, produce and share editorial, videos, infographics, eBooks and any other content to inform prospective and current international students about their study abroad experience. When he's not thinking about student visas in Sweden and application deadlines, Paul is an avid fan of comedy podcasts and Nicolas Cage films.