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The basics
Study abroad : Once you arrive

Your ultimate summer guide

Worried about making the most of your summer break? Follow our tips for an enjoyable and productive break.

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Whether you’ve just started a course in higher education, are waiting to start university, or have recently graduated, the summer holidays provide the perfect opportunity to relax, have fun and prepare for whatever comes next.


To get you feeling inspired we’ve explored some of the best ways to make the most of your time off.


Experience some culture


Music festivals can be a great way to let your hair down and enjoy your new found freedom. Take it back to basics and camp with a group of friends while listening to live music and soaking up the festivals’ atmosphere.



Popular European festivals


Where? Spain’s Costa del Azahar

When? July 18-21 2019


Where? Belgium

When? July 19-28, 2019


Where? UK

When? 22-25 August 2019

Festivals in the USA

Pitchfork music festival

Where? Chicago

When? July 19-22 2019

Electric Zoo

Where? New York

When? August/September 2019


Food festivals

If music isn’t your thing, then a food festival might be right up your street. Try different cuisines and learn about new cultures at some of the many food festivals hosted by major cities during the spring and summer months.



Comedy nights

If you’ve been studying this year, then you’ve probably felt a bit exhausted at times. Comedy is a great way to relax and enjoy the moment. Laughing releases endorphins and is the perfect pastime if you’ve been feeling anxious or overworked.



While summer is the time to take a break from studying, there is also no harm in broadening your mind and exploring other interests. Visit a local museum to get inspiration. For example, the Science Museum in London or the Louvre in Paris.


Art galleries

A relaxing, stimulating and often free activity that you can do by yourself or with friends and family. Many galleries tend to offer discounted prices to students or have free admission.



Take a break from staring at a tv or computer screen and watch a play in person. There’s nothing quite like it.


Get active

After months of hard work and revision, you might have had less time to focus on keeping fit. Now that summer is here, you have the chance. Exercise is good for your body, mind and can help you to feel motivated and well-rested, which is vital if you are continuing your studies next year.


When you join a gym, exercise classes are often included in the price of membership. Group exercise is great for increasing motivation and for boosting your mood. There are also several types of classes to meet the needs of different people such as Zumba, yoga, CrossFit, boxing and spin.


Outdoor swimming

Do you have a swimming pool near you? Try swimming in your local pool or in the sea for a fun and free form of exercise. Swimming is proven to reduce stress levels and help with anxiety and depression. After months of being stuck inside, this may be exactly what the doctor ordered.  



Organise a running group

Running is an excellent form of exercise that releases endorphins to get you feeling positive, confident and energised. The best thing about running is that it’s completely free.



Explore the great outdoors and find a walking trail near you. Studies show that being immersed in nature can help to promote feelings of positivity and wellbeing. It is also argued that being in nature can improve your quality of sleep which is vital for making the most of the summer months. Why not take a picnic and enjoy a dose of vitamin D with friends or family?



If intense fitness isn’t your thing, cycling might be the right choice for you to keep fit. Cycling is a cheap way to get around and reduces your carbon footprint at the same time. More than anything, cycling is a fun activity which you can do for just 30 minutes a day to feel the benefits.


Explore somewhere new (or old!)


The summer break is the best time to plan some holidays and trips to break your everyday routine. Meet new people and step out of your comfort zone by visiting new places to open your mind and learn about different cultures. If you’re not too picky about where you want to go, it is possible to do a holiday on a budget, particularly if you’re not going too far. Travelling is one of the best ways to gain real-life experience which can boost your confidence and employability.



City tour

Most major cities offer group tours which are generally affordable and can help you to get your bearings in a new place. Learn about the historical context of the city and ask your tour guide questions for more information.


Learn a new skill

Have you always wanted to master the art of baking or want to get back into painting? With so much free time you might find yourself feeling overwhelmed by the lack of structure that you’ve been used to during your studies. Try writing a list of things that you enjoy doing and start ticking them off throughout the summer.



Fancy becoming the next Gordon Ramsey or Mary Berry? Maybe earn a Michelin Star? Well, you might not reach these levels of expertise in just one summer but learning how to cook is an essential life skill.


If you’re about to start your first year at university, then you’ll need to be able to cook for yourself. Buy a few cookbooks and see what recipes you’d like to try. Cooking and baking are both therapeutic activities that can clear your mind and reduce stress. Practice makes perfect, so try not to feel deflated if your muffins turn out to be more like cookies.



Any form of creative outlet can have a positive effect on your mental health and pottery is no different. Taking time to make something yourself can bring a great sense of joy and accomplishment. Why not make yourself some kitchenware that you can admire all year long?



Proven to reduce depression and anxiety, knitting is another therapeutic activity that decreases tension and can be done from pretty much anywhere. Knitting is often considered a form of meditation just like yoga as both aim to connect mind and body.


Learn a new language

Ever wanted to learn another language? The summer break is the perfect time to start. You can even download apps that prompt you with vocabulary and grammar tests, so you can learn a little bit each day. Learning a new language is a respected skill for employers and can boost your CV. Being able to speak another language will enable you to converse with people from different cultures and has been proven to improve memory.



The time has finally come to lose yourself in a book of your choice this summer. Travel journals, romance novels or science fiction, whatever you prefer. Take a break from Facebook and Instagram notifications and ease yourself into another world with a good book. While Netflix provides hours of entertainment, reading stimulates your brain and helps you to concentrate. Nothing beats the feeling of finishing a book.



Another way to destress is to practice mindfulness techniques that you can incorporate into your daily routine. Mindfulness teaches you to live in the present moment which helps with feeling at peace.


Practising mindfulness involves breathing techniques, noticing physical sensations and being aware of your own thoughts. Again, there are now many mindfulness apps that can help you to practice every day.




Not the most affordable way to relax but yoga can improve your mental wellbeing by focusing on the present moment. Yoga aims to slow your breath which lowers your heart rate, improves circulation and can also reduce the risk of heart disease. Yoga can help to stretch your muscles and increase physical strength and flexibility. Anyone can do yoga, no matter what age, gender or fitness level.



Sleep is an important part of life that allows your body and mind to reset so that you can perform at your optimum during the day. Many of us struggle to have a good night’s sleep, particularly when stressed. While you’re probably looking forward to all the fun you have planned for the summer, it’s crucial that you catch up on sleep so that you return to your studies well-rested.


Stay focused


Internships/work experience

Every student’s goal for the summer holiday but usually quite difficult to get hold of. Internships are ideal for boosting your work experience and making you a more desirable graduate. Researching companies and applying for internships is a useful activity even if you don’t bag yourself a job.


It’s beneficial to get used to selling your skills and identifying areas for improvement. Currently, 60 per cent of paid interns are offered a full-time job. So, it’s definitely worth a try.



Meet new people, build your skill set and improve your CV. Volunteering is your chance to make a difference by helping people and communities. While volunteering is unpaid work, it can still advance your career as employers will admire your effort and willingness to gain experience. Want to find out more about the benefits of volunteering?


Research undergraduate and postgraduate courses

If you’re thinking of applying to university, whether that’s an undergraduate, postgraduate or a pathways course, now is the time to start. With a long summer break ahead, you have plenty of time to relax and prepare for your upcoming studies.


A bit of research each week could save you from disappointment and last-minute panic. Search for courses of interest, look at league tables, attend open days, read student reviews, order university prospectuses while also researching student accommodation, student finance and general advice on university life. Use our search tool to find your dream course.



Get ahead with your academic reading

The thought of doing any academic work over the summer may fill you with dread. But you don’t want to be rushing through your reading list over the last few days of the summer holiday when you could be appreciating those final moments of freedom. Don’t let your brain turn to mush. Keep on top of your course reading so that you are prepared for your first week of lectures.


Follow our advice to make the most of the summer while also setting yourself up for a productive year ahead. 


Want more advice?

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