Exams are over, so is uni and the sun is actually out.
That can only mean one thing – summer break is here!
12 uninterrupted weeks of nothing to do might sound awesome at first, but we’d be wrong if we said it couldn’t get a little boring after a while. The summer break is such a long period of time – longer than any other holiday you’ll get throughout the year – that it’d be a shame not to make best use of it.
Doing a summer internship, securing some work experience or travelling are probably three of the best ways to use up your summer break. But what if you weren’t one of the lucky ones, or can’t afford to leave the country?
We’ve put together this list of things you can do to make the most of your time off – and make yourself a better person while you’re at it.
Many of them don’t require a lot of money and can be enjoyed from the comfort of your own home, too (potentially whilst sunbathing).
Check ’em out.
1. Read more books.
We’re not talking textbooks here, either. The summer break is probably one of the only chances you’ll have to read books not related to your topic of study…without feeling guilty.
Whether you’ve had a stack of novels building up on your Amazon wishlist, or have always wanted to get stuck into those self-improvement books…now is the perfect time to do it.
If reading is something you’re looking to do more of this summer but not sure where to start, these reading challenges should give you plenty of inspiration.
The Best Way to Fall & Stay in Love with Reading – This challenge by Agile Lean Life is perfect for new readers or those who don’t read outside of their studies. It’ll guide you through the step by step process of getting into reading without pressure.
Your Classic Books Reading Challenge for 2018 – This list of classic books by Penguin is a great incentive to tick off all of those timeless titles you’ve never read (but pretend you have). Sure, it’s broken down by each month of the year…but there’s no reason you can’t tackle as many of them as you fancy during your summer break.
Read your Bookshelf Challenge – Are all those books on your shelf just gathering dust? Whether it’s your own bookshelf from uni or your parents’ bookshelf at home, this challenge will inspire you to finally put those books to good use, without acquiring more.
Modern Mrs Darcy 2018 Challenge – For devoted readers that want to get more out of their reading experience, the Modern Mrs Darcy challenge has helpful pointers on deciding what to read next – from short books you can read in a day to autobiographies and even books that were banned.
2. Enjoy a home vacation
Even if you’re not going away this year, your hometown is no doubt full of places and hot-spots to enjoy.
Instead of staying home with Netflix every day, why not make a true effort to get to know your home place better? Gather your friends or go alone, and start discovering all those hidden spots you take for granted.
Creative Ways to Take a Vacation at Home – This guide has some useful tips for creating your very own vacay at home, including all the little things you love about being away.
Tips for Being a Backpacker in your Hometown – To really make the most of your hometown, you’re going to need a plan. This article by Don’t Forget to Move can help you think about every aspect of your ‘trip’.
10 Fun Ways to Be a Tourist in your Hometown – Wherever you live, being a pretend-tourist is fun and definitely doable. This post from Footsteps On The Globe will show you how.
3. Improve your fitness
If you’ve struggled to fit in exercise due to your hectic work and study schedule, then now’s the time.
The summer break will be a long stretch of time in which you can really dedicate to getting your dream bod – whether its to just feel fitter and more confident, or to get those abs you’ve always wanted.
Because the summer brings fewer distractions, you’ll be more focused and have more energy to put into your workouts. You’ll also have time to pack in the required sleep and forge strong habits that, by the time you go back to uni, should hopefully be second nature.
Here are some handy resources to start you off.
KinoYoga Summer Yoga Course – KinoYoga’s summer yoga course offers shorter, convenient workouts designed to open up every part of your body. By the end of the course you’ll feel more flexible, stronger and totally zenned out. It’s all taught perfectly by lovable instructor Kino MacGregor.
Men’s Health 31 Day Summer Body Challenge – If you’re looking to lose weight or pack on some muscle, this 31-day guide by Men’s Health will take you through the process in manageable phases, leaving you feeling confident enough to whip off your t-shirt by the end. This plan is aimed at men, but you could absolutely try it as a female as well.
Women’s Health 4-Week Workout Plan – This exclusive power-training program was created by trainrer Joe Dowdell to help put a new kick into your exercise regime – whether you’re a regular trainer or haven’t worked out in months. You’ll complete three sessions each week on non-consecutive days, to reveal smokin’ results.
Training Plans for Runners – If you’re a keen runner wanting a new challenge, or maybe a newbie just getting into running, Runner’s World has plenty of easy-to-follow plans for all levels.
4. Volunteer your time.
Volunteering doesn’t just help others. It also looks great on your CV, helps you learn new and valuable skills and even make new friends.
There are do many ways and places in which you can volunteer. You can give your time to a charity, working on the streets or in an office; you can fundraise; you can donate time to a dogs/cats’ home or animal sanctuary, or even read to elderly people.
Festivals are also good places to be this year and have all kinds of volunteer opportunities. You’ll basically be getting into the event for free, getting to enjoy your favourite music and hang out with some cool people along the way.
Most overseas volunteer opportunities are filled up way in advance, so we’ve listed some resources that show how to get involved in your local community.
Student Hubs Volunteering Programs – Student Hubs has a range of volunteer programs, each run by students, for students.
Volunteer Summer Jobs – Indeed.co.uk is your go-to place for volunteer jobs in your local area. From coaching kids to riding quad bikes all day, you never know where you might end up.
Liverpool Guild of Students Volunteering Opportunities – LGoS can hook you up with local volunteering opportunities around the city and beyond. Even if you don’t attend Uni of Liverpool, it’s still worth taking a look.
Hotbox Events – Hotbox Events lets you know what festivals are happening when, and lets you apply to be a part of them.
5. Learn to meditate.
You might have read and heard a lot about meditation, and there’s good reason for it.
Meditation has been proven to boost mood, improve mental clarity, relieve stress, tension and anxiety and aid better sleep. It’s also been shown to enhance memory, self awareness and generally improve your emotional health. Which, in today’s crazy world, we could all need a little help with.
You might have been curious to try meditation before, but never had the time or not known where to start.
Now, with ample time on your hands. meditation is a great skill that will provide you with mega benefits not just for summer, but hopefully for life.
Here are some tools to get started.
Everything You Need to Start Meditating – A Life of Productivity takes you through all of the basics of meditation – what it is, what it isn’t, the simplest ways to get started and things you’ll need along the way.
Meditation for Beginners: 20 Practical Tips – These helpful tips from Zen Habits should help put your mind at ease when it comes to meditation, and enable you to think of it as something to look forward to, rather than something to dread.
Meditation: Getting Started – If you’ve got all kinds of questions about meditation, such as how to sit, what to do with your eyes, and how to keep your mind from wandering, this piece by Mindful has all the answers. Spoiler: none of it is as big of a problem as you might think.
Headspace – The Headspace app is an excellent tool for learning meditation, and making it a daily practice of just ten minutes per day. Once you’ve completed the initial 10 day course, you can then get access to ‘packs’, which are customised meditations for relationships, sleep, stress, self esteem or anything else you may be dealing with.
6. Take a course
The summer may be a period of no learning where uni is concerned. But it’s actually a great time to work at learning other skills, and you can easily do that with a course.
Taking a personal learning course will keep you focused and dedicated to your end goal. It’ll also provide you with clear targets and support throughout your learning journey.
Udemy – Get access to a wide variety of online courses at Udemy. Whether you want to get better at writing, learn how to animate, improve your design skills or even start your own business, Udemy will have a course for it. What’s better – all the courses are reasonably priced, so perfect for students or graduates.
FutureLearn – Get free access to a range of courses on anything you can imagine – from health and psychology to teaching, social science and business. If you really love a course, you can pay an upgrade for unlimited access.
7. Hike or camp around the UK with friends
If you have some mates and some camping gear, then you can take a ‘camping tour’ of the UK for not much more than some petrol money and basic food and supplies.
The UK is just full of beautiful campsites, green spots and wild areas to pitch your tent and watch the stars at night. Throw in some hiking in between destinations, and you’ll have yourself a pretty awesome summer adventure that’s much cheaper than going abroad.
Decide how many destinations you’d like to camp at, and how you’ll travel between each one (car, train or on foot?). Bear in mind if the locations close together, you can turn it into a hiking challenge.
Check out the ideas below for some inspiration.
Britain’s 25 coolest campsites – A list of the best campsites in the UK, including those for families, glampers, coastal spots and their nearest hiking challenges.
Camping in the UK: The Best Sites and Wild Spots to Pitch Your Tent – This list has plenty of inspo for wild, coastal and luxury camping spots. It even has some useful pointers on what to do in each place.
Wild Camping UK: Can You Camp Anywhere? – Some tips on how to find the best wild places to camp, how to get the most out of the experience and where you can and can’t legally camp.
UK Challenges – Time Outdoors has a bunch of outdoor challenges in different locations, including hiking, climbing mountains, cycling and other activities.
8. Learn to Cook
You might have done some sort of ‘cooking’ already during your time at uni, but the summer is the perfect time to learn some new dishes. (Or, for some of you, learn the basics if you’ve been living off takeout.)
Being able to cook fresh, healthy, delicious and affordable meals is a great skill that you’ll need to take with you back to uni, or into the grown-up world. Imagine impressing your friends; your date or your family with a culinary masterpiece!
Below are some resources for getting into simple home cooking.
11 Essential Cooking Tips for Every Student Kitchen – Take these simple tips on board and you’ll already be laying the foundations for being a great cook.
The Student’s Guide to Learning How to Cook – This one student’s story of how he faced his fears and got in the kitchen should inspire you to roll up your sleeves. Follow him through the process – from overcoming the mental blocks to learning from others.
How to Survive as a Student (basic recipes) – BBC Good Food has got us covered as always with these super simple, super yummy recipes.
Sorted Club – YouTube cookery star Ben Ebbrell and his gang Sorted Food offer practical, useful tips on cooking in the kitchen. Join the Sorted Club and you’ll get access to all kinds of guides and tutorials on how to cook classic and basic dishes.
If you’re spending the summer back home, chances are you’ll be revisiting your old bedroom.
And if we know students well, we reckon you may have a fair bit of stuff hoarded up in ‘dere.
De-cluttering is one of the best things you can do during your summer, and will truly help with kicking off the new semester to the best start.
If you’ve graduated, then de-cluttering is possibly even more important, as it clears away the distractions of the past and sets you up for the next chapter of your life.
Of course, anything sentimental or of value is always worth keeping. But for the rest of it, less is more.
Here are a couple of helpful resources on de-cluttering your room (and your life).
10 Creative Ways to Declutter – If you hate tidying of any kind, this article has some fun ways to make decluttering more appealing.
The Complete Guide to Decluttering Before College – Okay, so this guide is for decluttering before you get to uni. But the information still stands.
Declutter your life – Leo Babauta of Zen Habits walks you through the steps of decluttering your living space in a digestible, non-scary way.
10. Learn a new language
Learning a language is a fantastic investment not just culturally, but cognitively as well.
Studies have shown that learning a language can improve memory and slow the aging of the brain. It’s also pretty impressive for those around you – just think how surprised your exchange student crush will be when you start a conversation in their mother tongue.
You’ll also be perfectly equipped when you eventually go travelling after graduation (#onecandream).
Achieve the Impossible: Set yourself a fluent-in-3-months challenge – Benny Lewis has some awesome tips on how to become more-or-less fluent in your chosen language in just 90 days. (The key is to get specific.)
How I Learned a Language in 90 Days – Another great first-hand experience from Maneesh over at Lifehacker. You’ll learn the basic strategy of language learning and what most people get wrong about the process.
Duolingo app – Duolingo is practically your own personal language tutor you carry around in your pocket. With clever gamification built into every lesson, you’ll be motivated to earn points, race against the clock and level up, and the science shows that it works.
11 Tips for Mastering a New Language this Summer – This piece from Mental Floss has some great guidance on learning a new language, including useful strategies you can incorporate into your own learning.
Do you guys have any other fun hobbies or challenges you’re working through this year? Let us know on Twitter! @carostudents