It’s summer! Now what?

I’m writing this when I should be finishing up my final papers.  Four more days, and I’ll officially be done with my first year of grad school and will be facing more than three months of relative emptiness. How ever will I cope?

Though three months of “vacation” is a luxury most people can’t even fathom, it’s not all it’s cracked up to be either. No structure, nowhere to be, no money. So, like many other students, I’ve been working hard to find some summer employment (which hasn’t been easy, with the economy being what it is). Additionally, I’ll be studying for (and taking) the GRE, preparing applications for Ph.D. programs, drafting a reading list for an independent study, writing abstracts for conferences, drafting ideas for my MA thesis – basically doing a lot of academic stuff. I’m actually looking forward to these things, daunting though they may be. If I do find a job, my summer will be filling up quite nicely. But of course, I’ve also deserved a little relaxation after studying hard all year. My limited funds have forced me to be creative in my summer funtime planning, and I figured some of you might be in a similar position and in need of some budget ideas for summer activities. Here are some of my plans:

  • Running. Goodness, I know! That doesn’t sound very relaxing at all, right? I decided last March that I wanted to run a 5K and have been training ever since for a race on June 19. Though I’m not one of those “runner’s high” runners and probably never will be, I have found that running provides me with a great excuse to soak up some sun and generally enjoy my neighborhood and city. Without this race to motivate me, I would never be outside to enjoy the early-morning sun.
  • Making use of public, green, outside spaces. I’m lucky because I live minutes from the beach. I’m less lucky because I live in a country where sunshine, even in summer, is less than guaranteed. However, there are plenty of clear, sort of sunny mornings and evenings on which I could enjoy the beach (or the large park, which is slightly further from my house). It might be too chilly for baking in the sun in a bathing suit, but hanging out on a blanket with a book or with a friend and a bottle of wine can be much more enjoyable than frying to a crisp.
  • Scouring the Internet for free events. My city, The Hague, has turned June into its festival month, with lots of free concerts and performances. I’ve set up a separate “free event” Google Calendar in which I note every free (or cheap) event to which I can travel cheaply. And when I say every event, I mean every event, even those I’m not sure would be quite to my taste (metal or jazz concerts, for instance). You never know what might end up being a fun experience. I probably won’t attend all (or even most) of these events, but my calendar is shaping up nicely, and I’ll have plenty of options.
  • Checking Groupon and auction sites for good deals. Just last week I scored two tickets for a big concert on the beach featuring Elton John and Bryan Adams (among others). The retail price for these tickets was 59.50 euros, and I got them for 16 euros. I do make sure I only use official sellers so that I don’t get scammed and end up throwing away money, but there are some good deals you can find online. I’m also checking holiday auction sites, which often dump hotel rooms for really cheap.
  • Setting a little money aside for must-do things. The last installment of the Harry Potter series will be released in July, and I fully intend to go to the midnight premiere. I’ll probably see it again later that week as well. By making sure I’ve already budgeted for the things I really want to do, I can rest assured there will be no nasty surprises.
  • Investing in some creature comforts around the house. I do hope I’ll be working full-time for a large part of the summer, and with all the academic stuff on top of that, the summer may turn out even more stressful than my university semesters. Working on academic things after a full day of work and when (if) the weather is lovely will not be easy. Thankfully, I’m the proud owner of a large balcony, which will soon be adorned with a sea of flowers. I’ll make sure to have some tasty drinks and eats in my fridge, and I hope these things will make life a little more enjoyable all-around.

I could go on and on, but this post is quite long already. So now I’d like to ask you, what are your plans for summer? Do you have time off from school? Do you have a job or internship lined up? Do you work (full-time or part-time) anyway and will summer just be the same as the rest of your year? What are your plans for enjoying the higher temperatures and longer days (on a budget)? Or are you in the southern hemisphere and does all this talk of summer just make you incredibly grouchy?

By Nanna Freeman

Anglo-America-loving Dutchie with a grad student twist and a mad dash of self-mockery.

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One reply on “It’s summer! Now what?”

I love your idea of using the internet to find and schedule free events. This is my first summer in a new city and I’m taking summer classes, while most of my friends work. It’s frustrating sometimes to be stuck inside all day doing homework or just sitting around because no one else is available. I always read about fun things going on in the newspaper, but after the fact. Thanks for the reminder that I can be part of the fun, even if I don’t have money to spend! Great suggestions. Now if only it would stop raining around here and actually feel like summer…

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