I think at this point it must go without saying that this Summer may be different to most. There are still some restrictions but with everything heading back towards normal it has gotten me thinking about how I have spent my Summers in the past and how I’m planning to spend this one.
As an undergraduate I have always felt a great pressure to be doing something productive during the Summer months but the weather and exhaustion from another academic year in the bag always seem to drain that energy away. It’s about balance more than anything else. Being productive can improve your mood in general but it’s also important to make the most of having a bit of time to relax and recover from another hectic year.
So I’ll talk about generic undergraduate routines while also calling from my own experience a bit here and hope to provide inspiration for someone somewhere who’s wondering what to do now.
For many people, Summer becomes the time to get a job for a few months and make a bit of extra money for the next year. I’ve always found it quite difficult to find employers willing to take me on for such a short contract but there are opportunities out there. Jobs may seem like they only exist for you to work and make money but these can also be more enjoyable if you think about what you want to spend your summer doing and looking for something similar.
This year I won’t have a job exactly but I will be making the most of the university’s URSS (undergraduate research support scheme) programme. I’m looking forward to this as an opportunity to get a view into the world of research. It’s something I’m genuinely interested in so I’m not dreading it like I would be some other jobs and that’s what you want to try and seek out if you can.
This is a tough one. I find my attitude changes as the Summer goes on. I’ll probably start with great intentions of being ahead of everything and starting next year ultra-prepared but this will probably morph into guilt at not having done ‘enough’ towards the end of the Summer.
In all honesty, I don’t think there is really any university work that you have to do over Summer (at least, not in the physics department). Next year though, I’ll be doing my final year project which is something I am very keen to get started so I’m hoping to channel that enthusiasm into a bit of prior research before September comes around.
I’d say in this area, if you’re excited for the upcoming topics it can’t hurt to read around them a bit and I often just like that feeling of accomplishment that comes with getting ahead. At the same time though, don’t stress about university work. There is time during the terms to get through everything anyway.
Now onto the more interesting stuff!
Of course, travelling abroad this year presents a bit of an issue but that doesn’t mean there aren’t any opportunities for holidays. Travelling, even with the UK, can be a great experience and an opporuntity for self-development outside of academia. There’s more to life than just work after all.
This year I’m planning a cycling trip in South England with a friend which I am greatly looking forward to. It’s something I haven’t done before and it has been a long time since I last went on a camping trip even though I always used to enjoy them. I only mention this to give an example of the types of adventures that are still available despite all the restrictions that remain.
And the Rest
Perhaps there’s a hobby you can never find the time for during the university term. Perhaps it’s a personal project you want to get back to or get started on. Perhaps you just want to find your routine again and reset for the new year.
These are all things that I am looking at and hoping to act on this Summer. I love to read but revising everyday can make it hard just to keep my eyes focussed on the page. This year has really destroyed my daily routines so I’m determined to use this break to get back into a regular schedule of exercising, cooking, cleaning, etc., all of that exciting everyday stuff.
And of course, the rest can also just include resting. There’s no doubt that a year at university is a huge challenge and this year more than most. We’re all a bit exhausted I think so look after yourself and enjoy some time away!