Summer vacation often means you find yourself with a lot of extra time on your hands. If you are like me, you will want to use that time well, and get the most out of every minute of it. Here are some things to keep in mind as you are making your summer plans, so when the autumn rolls around you won’t wonder what happened to your summer.
Travel. My family traveled every summer when I was young and I think there is little my parents could have done to make my vacations better than that. I learned more about the places I visited than I ever learned in classrooms or from books. Travel opens up our minds and teaches us about how other people live and think. There is no better education than travel. When you travel it is always good to visit the famous sights and hot spots, but take time to get off the tourist trails and see what the things locals like to eat and do - this is where the most meaningful and memorable encounters happen, not taking pictures with crowds of other tourists in front of the Eiffel Tower or Statue of Liberty.
Explore. Exploration doesn’t necessarily mean that you have to travel far. If you don’t have time for a long trip, just a trip to a nearby city or in a different part of your own city can give you a different perspective on life and refresh your mind. There are many things that happen in our own cities and towns that we don’t know about. Concerts, markets, and festivals are held year-round. Use the extra time in the summer to experience parts of your own culture and history that you may not have time for when you are busy studying and working. One of my favorite ways to explore my city is to take a bus to a neighborhood I rarely visit and try a new coffee shop or restaurant there. Or I take an evening walk instead of my usual morning one.
Learn. Travel is not the only way to learn new things. Summer vacation is the perfect time to try something new. New experiences and information often supports our career paths in surprising and interesting ways, so taking a class that seems unrelated to your major is not a waste of time, but an excellent enrichment opportunity. Take a photography class - it will change the way you look at the world. Learn to make temple food - it will give you a better understanding of tradition and an important life skill. Start playing tennis - it will keep you healthy and it’s fun. The new skills and hobbies you begin can help keep your body and mind in shape, and will give you fresh perspective when you get back to studying.
Connect. My summertime memories are not just about the classes I’ve taken and the places I’ve travelled. They are full of people - classmates, childhood friends, family, and people I’ve met along the way. Use this time to reconnect with people you already know and reach out to make new friends. Join a club. It is always fun to do something you like with people who share your interest, and learning new things is easier when we have people to help us out. Volunteer in your community. Helping others brings us closer together and helps us understand our communities better. Meet your friends. Whether it is having coffee or playing a friendly game of basketball, reconnecting with friends always makes us feel good. It strengthens old memories and makes excellent new ones.
Whatever you choose to do with your summer, don’t waste it - time is precious and only runs one way. Have fun and make beautiful memories.