Maximizing Your Summer Staycation

Summer vacation as a college student is quite different from summer vacation in grade school. It suddenly becomes taboo to spend your summer days waking up late, watching cartoons, and just goofing around. In college, the generic “have a great summer” yearbook greeting gives way to a slightly different email signoff: “Have a productive summer.” Your classmates may be blowing up your social media with posts about their summer internships in a big city, or with photos of foreign countries where they are studying abroad. If you, instead, find yourself back in your hometown for the summer, don’t fret. You will still have plenty of time and opportunities to experience a new place and to go off on your own adventures. Until then, here are five ways for you to make the most of your summer staycation!

1.       Free Summer Events

 The warm weather offers a perfect opportunity for cities to put on a myriad of outdoor public events. The best part is, they’re usually free! (Or, at least very affordable.) Be on the lookout in your local newspaper for outdoor screenings, concerts, or farmer’s markets. “There are a ton of great activities to take advantage of,” says Brittany Ochoa, a junior at Texas A&M University, spending the summer in her hometown of El Paso, TX. “I’ve gone to a few movies in the park, and the Let Freedom Ring concert series is always a go-to weekend outing for me.” While food and drinks will cost extra, you can always bring your own snack and just go for the show.

2.       Explore Your City

           Cities and towns are not static. They are always growing and changing. If you spend most of your year away at school, then chances are that not everything stayed the same while you were gone. Exercise that newfound independence of yours to explore your city. Grab a friend and venture out. Try a restaurant in a neighborhood that you never go to. Investigate what goes on in that building that has always caught your eye, but that you have always wondered about. This is the place of your origin story, learn more about it, and you might learn something about yourself along the way.

3.       Personal Project

 We all have that secret little book of ideas, whether it’s written on actual paper, or just kept in the back of your mind. You go off to college in hopes of pursuing your passions, but you don’t always get the opportunity to actually spend time practicing them. School, work, friends are all important and all worthwhile things to devote your time, but they can also get in the way of reading that book that’s been sitting on your shelf, or playing out that melody that’s been in your head. You are approaching a chapter in your life that is void of any free time, let alone a whole season full of it. Turn your attention for the next few months to a personal project. It can be anything you want, as long as it fulfills you.

For Ochoa, that project includes “experimenting with watercolors and photography,” which she posts on her own blog. Amanda Chacon, also an El Paso native and a junior at University of Texas at San Antonio, expresses a similar sentiment, claiming that “being home and not having classes to attend has also freed up a lot of my time for recreational activities that I typically don’t have the chance to participate in throughout the semester. I’ve gone climbing a lot more while at home, and even went skydiving a few weeks ago!” You don’t have to be as daring as Amanda, but definitely don’t be afraid to try your hand at something new. This is the perfect time! 

4.       Bond with Family and Friends

It’s called a hometown for a reason. You could be anywhere else right now, but you are here because this is where your family is. This is likely the place where you grew up, where you went to school, where you met some of your closest friends. Going off to school wasn’t just an adjustment for you, it was also an adjustment for your family. Spending time with them, and with your old friends, means catching up on all the little stories that you missed while you were away and sharing the exciting new things that you have learned and experiences while you were at college. Just a fair warning: bonding with your fam could result in increased homesickness when you ship out again in the fall, but it’s totally worth reconnecting to your culture and to your support system. 

5.       Reset

 Like the exhausted laptop that you leave powered on every second of every day, sometimes you just need to reset. Now is your chance to take a breather between semesters. You know those eight-hour nights of sleep that you’re always hearing about? Now you can actually see what the big fuss is about. Without those ghastly 8 am classes or late-night study sessions, you can actually get a decent amount of sleep at night (so don’t sabotage yourself by watching Netflix until dawn.) It’s also okay to take a day every now and then to do nothing. Remember: taking care of yourself is just as important as taking care of business.

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