After finishing exams and finally having time to ourselves, the last thing any student wants to think about is more work. But from experience, if students don’t keep their mind working in between semesters, it will be harder to adjust when school resumes. Some students might say that they are working or are part of an internship program and don’t need to work in any other way, but we all know that our summer jobs aren’t always beneficial to the skills we need at school. So here are eight suggestions on how to keep your mind working over break without burning yourself out or having conflicts with any other plans you might have.
1. Read up on advances in your field.
Now you might say reading isn’t exactly an activity that you consider when you have free time, but think of the benefits. Not only are passages about advancements in fields usually on the shorter side, which means a quick read, but you’ll be prepared for any discussion that might take place when you return to school. What’s better than impressing your professors? Also, since the content is about your major, it will be an interesting read! And this suggestion can work for any major. If you’re in education, there’s probably a new technique being discussed, and if it’s controversial, it’s something you’ll want to know about and discuss. If you’re in psychology, there are always new studies being released that can benefit you in the future. The same goes for engineers and STEM majors.
2. Take on cooking challenges.
Whether you live in a dorm or commute to school, there is always a time and money crunch when it comes to food as a college student. There were probably some creative foods you ate (or thought about making). Why not get together with some of your friends and do a cooking challenge? Think Chopped or other cooking competition shows. Some "challenge" ideas could be only using a color scheme like your school colors, only cooking with leftovers or only using $10 for a meal. Not only will it be fun to watch and/or take part in, but you’ll return to school with some crazy new recipes.
3. Keep writing.
Not everyone enjoys writing or spends their free time doing it, but it’s important to keep at it. Now I’m not saying you have to constantly write in MLA or APA format but take the time to occasionally write something down. Maybe you had an adventurous idea that you can’t physically do — write about it and see where your mind goes. You can be traditional and keep a journal or be more modern and write a blog about what it’s like being home again or just about anything that’s happened that you want to remember down the line. You can keep writing in fun ways — try writing a fictional story where each sentence is the size of a tweet. Or if you really want to commit to writing, apply to be a writer at Fresh U! If you’d like to learn more, you can click here.
4. Pick up your old instrument.
Anyone who has ever played an instrument knows that it helps with motor skills, memory and patience. In college, you definitely need a ton of patience and an amazing memory, and motor skills are a nice bonus. By trying to play your old instrument, you’ll work muscles in both your hands and mind that you haven’t in a while and by strengthening them, you’ll have an improved self upon returning to school. Also the longer it’s been since playing, the funnier it will be trying again. Trust me, I’ve recently done this and my friends got a kick out of it.
5. Finish a book.
Don’t worry, textbooks are not needed! It’s important to keep the muscles in your memory that are used for reading strong. You have arm day, leg day and now brain day! There’s a genre out there for everyone and the book doesn’t have to be extremely long. This can be a great opportunity to finally read that book you’ve been eyeing for a while. Or if you’re not sure where to start, you can either walk around a bookstore, scroll through online websites searching for a story that sparks your interest.
6. Listen to a podcast.
I can’t take full credit for this suggestion as my interest in them stems from some of my relatives and past teachers. Podcasts are like books and movies — there are a ton of different types and lengths and they’re all entertaining and/or educational. Other writers have also suggested podcasts as a way to keep your mind sharp, but their audience doesn’t have the same benefit as we do — staying prepared and being able to pay attention and learn during lectures at school.
7. Research random questions.
Growing up, I always had an unusual love for encyclopedias because I could learn about topics I would not have otherwise known about. The same can go for Google. I have the type of mind that questions everything and comes up with some very random or strange questions, as I am sure many of you have experienced at some point, too. So are you still curious about the history of retainers? Do you want to know about modern royalty other than the English monarchs? Just look it up! And based on my first example, they don’t have to be serious questions. In fact, the more random or unusual, the better. One day you might even stumble upon a fact that comes up in a bar trivia night. Even if what you read about doesn’t help you in the long run, you still used your mind and learned something new. Your brain will thank you.
8. Visit a landmark or historic site.
By doing so, you might get some exercise and fresh air in the process, which after finals season we probably all need. But you’ll also learn more about your hometown and surrounding areas. What you learn may completely surprise you or just give you more information on an event you thought you already knew everything about. You can even end up going somewhere you would have never gone to otherwise and end up loving it. This is an activity you can do with your family or friends on more than one occasion. Both the exercise and the fun version of learning will help your mind stay focused and strengthen your memory.
I know we all want to just lay in our beds and probably sleep and eat some real food for once over the next few months, but we also don’t want to end up in a slump by the time we return to school next semester. So to avoid that, I hope you give at least one of these suggestions a try. Although, no matter what you choose to do, I hope you have a relaxing but also fabulous time! You deserve it!
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