Making the most of your summer
It’s July – and that means one thing: summer is well and truly here. For most of us, post-exam euphoria has probably died down a bit now and celebrations have given way to a mix of relief, tiredness, burnout and maybe even a strange sense of purposelessness. Whether you’re going on holiday, working or keeping it low key, here’s a few tips and ideas, some fun, some more useful – on how to get the most out of your summer break.
Rest! It’s so so important to make sure you take time for yourself- even if that just means going to bed a bit earlier than usual, or having downtime days where you stay in your pyjamas and binge watch Netflix! Don’t feel like you have to do anything in particular. After a stressful couple of months, this is your chance to properly rest up so that you can hit the ground running in the autumn, with plenty of energy for another busy academic year. I am a huge advocate of the power nap (20-30 minute optimum!), so even if you prefer to keep busy most days, squeezing a quick snooze in can do the world of good – this applies to termtime as well! Lots of students end up with rather irregular sleep patterns, so summer’s also a good chance to try and re-establish healthy habits and catch up on some sleep, especially if you had to pull a few all-nighters during exam season.
Don’t worry about exam results Easier said than done, but try not to dwell too much on the dreaded Results Day if you can – it’s completely normal to have it at the back of your mind constantly over the summer (I was the worst for this so I know how it feels!) but you really can’t change anything now, so it pays to be pragmatic; embrace the mantra of what will be will be and just get on with enjoying the next couple of months. A-Levels do seem like the beginning and end of the world right now, but whatever happens, it honestly will all be fine in the end!
De-stress Everyone has their own ways to do this, here’s a few suggestions: – Find a good book; and if the weather’s decent, sit outside (garden/park/back step/whereever takes your fancy) & soak up the sun whilst you read – as a bookworm this comes top of the list for me!
– Try some calming colouring! Colouring really isn’t just for children & nowadays you can get hold of ‘colouring books for adults’ in most newsagents and supermarkets. They’re great fun and super relaxing.
– Go on a walk everyday, get some fresh air and maybe even venture somewhere new. Whether you live in the city or somewhere more rural, there’ll always be somewhere else to explore!
– Put your phone away for an hour or two a day, or longer if you think you possess the will to resist temptation! Turn it off, disconnect from everything for a little while and just see where it takes you…
New hobby If you have the time, take up a new pursuit: perhaps something you’ve always wanted to try but never had the chance- maybe a sport, creative writing, or something a bit more unusual. A couple of summers ago I tried my hand at origami, the tricky but hugely addictive art of Japanese paper folding! There’s a great sense of purpose in pursuing a craft project like this, and after many frustrating endeavours and crumpled heaps of paper, I managed to master it enough to come up with this… (A swan, but if you squint it could probably pass as one of the famous Warwick Geese!)
Create a photo album Nowadays, we are used to capturing our everyday lives with pictures, camera phones allowing us to take snapshots whereever we go. This is brilliant, but at the same time, storing a huge number of photos digitally means that it’s really easy to lose track of them, especially if they’re scattered across social media! It’s also a more arduous task to get them organised and printed. Last August I spent a few days sorting all my photos from 2011-17 (yes, really – 6 years worth of photos – it was a nightmare!) into separate folders on my laptop, after which I ordered prints that I could put into an album. There’s something lovely about viewing pictures – and the memories they hold – printed rather than via a screen. I think this is actually a great idea for something to do the summer before you head to uni – you can use the pictures to decorate your room and give it that personal, homely touch when you move in!
Part-time job You’re probably thinking; hang on, I’ve just told you to rest and destress, now I’m telling you to get a job! Well, summer jobs are fantastic for many students; they give you the chance to save up a bit of extra cash to supplement your student loan the following year and whilst doing so gain vital skills and experience in the workplace. Whether you’re working in retail, waiting on or something completely different/niche, there’s so much to be said for working in your holidays. However, it’s worth bearing in mind that taking on too many hours may exhaust you at a time when you need to rest, so don’t overstretch yourself!
Prepare for next year At the start of your break, this is probably the furthest thought from your mind, but, later in the summer, I think it’s great to research each of the modules you’ll be taking next year & if you can spare the time, read around the subject in question. This doesn’t need to be anything intense or time-consuming but will hopefully give you a taste for what’s to come and help you to feel calm and ready to take on the coming year. Most of the departments at Warwick have individual webpages for each module which detail the content and nature of study, as well as assessment requirements. Some even include a week by week breakdown of what will be covered.
If you’re a prospective fresher, it can be really tough to know where to start, especially if reading lists haven’t been sent out. Don’t feel under pressure to do any reading (unless you’ve been advised to) but if you’re feeling keen, go ahead and pick out a few books that interest you. Don’t be afraid to email a module tutor to enquire about recommended reading – they’ll probably be glad that you’re so motivated and be more than happy to provide a suggestion or two!
For drama students, if you’re going to read anything, I would recommend the Palgrave Drama, Theatre and Performance Companion (Michael Mangan) – this is a really clear, accessible overview of the subject at degree level and is written in a style which allows you to easily dip in and out, reading the sections which particularly interest you. It was also on our reading list this year. I got a copy about a month before starting 1st year and it was such an enjoyable read – it really made me excited to get started!