Making the Best of Your College Summer Break

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You’ve just gone through two semesters of classes, homework, meetings, and activities. At last, you’re moving out and heading home for the summer! There’s another side to summer vacation in college: you’ve just made all these great friends who you got to see every day, and now you all have to part ways for the next few months! The good news is, the first summer I had after starting college turned out to be my best summer yet, and this one is shaping up to be pretty great too!

Through these past couple of summers, I’ve made the best out of the time I’m spending away from the incredible St. Michael’s College by doing all of the following:

1.) Explore new places and try different things in and around your hometown!

There’s a chance that you and your friends had your own little summer routine in high school…you probably had your go-to spots and your usual weekend activities. Now, you have the perfect opportunity to branch out of that routine and try things that you’ve never thought of, even though they’ve been right in front of you this whole time!

After all, who knows how many summers you have left in your hometown! It’s important to explore as much of it as possible while you’re there. You just may find a new favorite spot!

Way back in the day, I went to Halibut Point State Park in Rockport, MA a handful of times with my family. After not having been there in several years, I decided to return for a day trip last summer. It turned out to be a new go-to summer spot of mine!

Way back in the day, I went to Halibut Point State Park in Rockport, MA a handful of times with my family. After not having been there in several years, I decided to return for a day trip last summer. It turned out to be a new go-to summer spot of mine!

This was taken at Mad Martha’s, a breakfast and lunch café on the beach in my hometown, Newbury, MA. Before my college summers, I’d only been a few times. Now, I find myself there almost every other week!

This was taken at Mad Martha’s, a breakfast and lunch café on the beach in my hometown, Newbury, MA. Before my college summers, I’d only been a few times. Now, I find myself there almost every other week!

 

2.) Be on the lookout for cheap (or better yet, free), fun things to do!

If you haven’t heard by now, your college years are all about watching what you spend. Maybe there’s a free local concert going on downtown, or a cool state park where you can park for a handful of quarters.  Either way, you’ll be happy you were wise with your wallet when opportunity knocks to do something a little bigger and pricier!

This is Oldies Marketplace, an antiques store in downtown Newburyport. Every now and then, I take a stroll through the aisles just to check out all their cool goodies! Fun and free!

This is Oldies Marketplace, an antiques store in downtown Newburyport. Every now and then, I take a stroll through the aisles just to check out all their cool goodies! Fun and free!

 

3.) Make plans to see your college friends!

Go ahead; plan a day trip or a weekend together! Even though you’re not seeing each other every day anymore, these summer circumstances make the times that you do see each other that much more special.

This also gives you the chance to show off your hometown (or maybe your home-state!) to all your college buds, and vice versa!

Just this past weekend, my boyfriend and I made a trip out to the iconic Portland Head Light near his hometown, Saco, ME. These past couple of summers, it’s been great being able to explore our hometowns together. It’s allowing us to try new things in our own hometown, and experience an entire new state in the other’s hometown!

Just this past weekend, my boyfriend and I made a trip out to the iconic Portland Head Light near his hometown, Saco, ME. These past couple of summers, it’s been great being able to explore our hometowns together. It’s allowing us to try new things in our own hometown, and experience an entirely new state!

 

Wherever you’re spending your summer away from school, I hope you’re making the best of it! Don’t be afraid to try something new and different, and do all the explorin’ you can!

To get a digital glimpse of how I’m spending my summer, feel free to follow me on Instagram @claire_cavanaugh!

Until next time, folks!

8 Habits for a Healthy Summer

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During your summer break, you’re probably thinking of hitting the beach, attending festivals, eating junk food, and relaxing. But while you might have staved off the “freshman 15,” the summer is no time to develop bad practices. Instead, keep your mind and body relaxed during the summer with these eight healthy summer habits.

1.   Wear Moisturizing Sunscreen

Who doesn’t dream of coming back to school from break bronzed and beautiful? But while the healthy glow of sunshine can make you look and feel great, there is always the possibility of having too much of a good thing: sun can lead to painful burns and dry skin. Avoid this unsightly, painful hassle by wearing sunscreen with moisturizer whenever you’ll be in direct sunlight for more than fifteen minutes at a time.

2.   Stay Hydrated

High temperatures bring out the playful side in everyone. While you’re having fun, don’t forget that your body needs to replenish its liquids—particularly when it’s hot out. Bring a bottle of water with you wherever you go to keep your water levels high. When working out, be sure to take in 8 ounces per every 20 minutes of physical activity.

3.   Socialize!

For many students, returning home for the summer can be a difficult adjustment, particularly for those coming from far away. Avoid the shock of reentry by getting together with local friends, family, and peers for a meal, a movie, or a summer BBQ. If you don’t have a social group in your area, check out online sites like Meetup.com, to link up with groups in your interests and lifestyle.

4.   Take a Walk

When the temperatures really soar, you might be tempted to coop yourself up in your house or go for a drive. Instead, get active: go for a walk! Walking can be very beneficial to your mental health, and you’ll be surprised by how much better you feel afterwards. Just remember to bring a water bottle with you if you’re going during the hotter parts of the day. Use your phone or a sports watch to ensure you get in at least 5,000 steps per day.

5.   Eat Seasonal Produce

While the big-box supermarket allows you to purchase nearly any food you might want at any given time, in-season foods almost always taste better and fresher—and make you, in turn, feel better. Warm-weather staples like watermelons, peaches, eggplants, and tomatoes can turn your summertime recipes from blah to brilliant. Plus, who doesn’t want an excuse to head to the farmer’s market!

6.   Work Out in the Morning

The summer months are great for working out outdoors, but once the sun fully rises, it can become a sweaty, sweltering mess. To avoid the heat, consider getting up early to go running outside before (or during) sunrise. Not only will you beat the warmer temperatures; you’ll also feel accomplished before your day even starts!

7.   Sleep In

While morning workouts are indeed productive, there’s one thing you probably didn’t get to do at all during the school year: sleep as long as you want to. Without having to get up for 8am classes, study groups, or that prized spot at the library, you have the opportunity to get yourself a full night’s rest—and then some.

8.   Say Yes!

You’ve got all kinds of time on your hands now. What are you going to do with it? Instead of looking for excuses not to do things, take the opportunity to just do them. Saying “yes” to some of the crazier things you’ve always wanted to do is what summers out of college are all about.

Your summer is full of possibilities. That’s why it’s important to make healthy decisions, both physical and mental. By indulging yourself a little while also maintaining some smart eating and exercise habits, you can return to school in the fall relaxed, rejuvenated, and ready to take on the new year.

How do you plan to make your summer happy and healthy? Let us know!

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Five Easy Recipes to Take to Your Internship

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An internship can be one of the most rewarding experiences you can have in college. It will get you a headstart in your career, open you up to networking opportunities, and build your resume from the ground up.  Most internships, however, are not paid, meaning you may have to pinch pennies to get through. One of the best ways to save is to avoid the cafeteria or local pub and instead bring your lunch with you to work. Ban the bland in your lunchbox by trying one or all five of our favorite fast, easy, and delicious recipes:

Summer Salad

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A taste of the summer wouldn’t be complete without fresh greens and a handful of berries. This dish combines them both.

Ingredients:

  • Mixed bag of greens (spinach, kale, lettuce) or a head of lettuce
  • Walnuts
  • Frozen berries
  • Poppy seeds
  • Feta cheese
  • Half of a red onion, chopped
  • Berry vinaigrette dressing

Directions:

  1. Chop the head of lettuce or mixed greens in a large mixing bowl.
  2. Stir in frozen berries, poppy seeds, walnuts, feta, and chopped onion to the bowl. Continue stirring until evenly mixed.
  3. Pour dressing over evenly and cover in a Tupperware bowl.

Hummus Wraps

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Vegetarians can eat fabulous meals as well! Hummus wraps are a tasty, meatless treat for a long workday.

Ingredients:

  • 4 whole grain flatbread wraps
  • 2 cups mixed vegetables (recommended: chopped pepper, onion, eggplant, and lettuce)
  • 2 tsp olive oil
  • 1 cup hummus
  • 1 handful leafy greens (lettuce or watercress works best)
  • Pinch salt

Directions:

  1. Sauté vegetables (except for lettuce or other greens) in olive oil and salt for 5-8 minutes.
  2. Spread hummus on the flatbread.
  3. Add vegetables to flatbread. Top with leafy greens.
  4. Roll flatbread tightly.
  5. Cut in half.

Yield: 4 servings

Sesame Noodle Pasta

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Complex, tasty pasta dishes don’t have to be difficult to make. With this simple Asian noodle recipe, you can make all of your coworkers jealous.

Ingredients:

  • ½ package linguine
  • 2 tbsp minced garlic
  • 3 tbsp sugar
  • ¼ cup rice vinegar (found in Asian food aisle)
  • ¼ cup soy sauce
  • 1 tbsp sesame oil
  • 1 tsp chili sauce
  • Handful of sesame seeds

Directions:

  1. Boil water in large pot.
  2. Add pasta. Cook until al dente (usually 5-7 minutes; follow instructions on package), then drain and set aside.
  3. In saucepan, add rest of ingredients to make a sauce.
  4. Add pasta to the pan and mix until sauce is evenly distributed.

Yield: 4 servings.

Cucumber and Turkey Sandwiches

Turkey-Sandwich-On-An-English-Muffin-With-Mascarpone-Pesto-Cucumber-Cranberry-Relish-and-Avocado-4

Simple sandwiches are the key to an easy meal. The turkey and cucumbers keep it light and healthy.

Ingredients:

  • ½ cup mayo
  • 1 tbsp horseradish sauce
  • Pinch garlic sauce
  • 1 cut cucumber sliced thin
  • 3 cups turkey, cooked and chopped
  • 8 slices bread of your choice

Directions:

  1. Toss together mayo, horseradish, garlic, and turkey in medium mixing bowl.
  2. Spread mix over 4 slices of bread.
  3. Add slices of cucumbers atop spread.
  4. Top with 4 more slices of bread.

Yield: 4 servings.

The Classic Ploughman’s Lunch

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A lunch served for centuries, this protein packed platter will keep you working till dinner.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cube English cheddar cheese
  • ½ cup of chutney
  • 2-3 thick slices cooked deli ham
  • 1 apple, sliced
  • 5-6 stalks celery, cut lengthwise
  • 2 hard-boiled eggs
  • 10 baby carrots
  • Small loaf of fresh bread
  • Tab of butter

Directions:

  1. Place eggs in large saucepan and cover with 1” water. Bring water to a boil.
  2. When water boils, remove from heat and cover. Let sit for 12 minutes.
  3. Drain water and run eggs under cool running water for 2-3 minutes.
  4. Add eggs to small serving tub. Add other ingredients to several other small, lightweight serving tubs and eat throughout the day.

Yield: 1 (large) serving.

How delicious do these dishes look! Which one will you be trying?

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6 Ways to Stay Focused During Summer Classes

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Taking a course or two during your vacation or break can be extremely beneficial. In most cases, students use this opportunity to earn credits towards graduation. But when you are trapped indoors during beautiful summer days, focusing on a statistics class or an American history seminar can feel impossible while your mind wanders to the beach and BBQs. With these six study techniques, you can be productive, keep your grades up, and enjoy the summer break.

Ithaca College Summer program-3wks

1.   Take Your Studies Outdoors

There is no need to coop yourself up in a dark corner of a library or to lock yourself in your dorm room. Come June, the outdoors becomes a prime study hall that’s yours for the taking. Create a mobile study desk with inventive outdoor spaces such as a public table or bench in a park, a lawn chair and fold up table on your back lawn, or a picnic blanket on the sand. Because OCM’s dorm bedding is machine washable, it’s easy to spread the comforters or blankets out on the grass. Whatever your summer scene, just be sure that the area is quiet (or you can wear headphones) and free of distractions. The sunnier, the better, as a daily dose of Vitamin D will help you focus and re-energize.

2.   Designate a Break Time

If the summer course you are taking is high-stress, halting a study session can seem counterproductive. However, mental health breaks are especially important when tackling information overload. They can help you gain new perspective, reset a tired brain, and assist in physically recovery. It is recommended that you split your breaks up into shorter periods (such as 20-30 minutes versus an hour) and ban your phone, tablet, and computer from being within arm’s reach.

3.   Stick to a Routine

Like your normal semester routine, summer studies require the same attention. Set a strict schedule with your calendar. Use dorm organization products to help streamline your thoughts and process. An alarm will remind you to get up early for the day, to head to the gym before or after class, to make it to open office hours weekly, and to get 7 hours of sleep per night. By pre-setting a routine that mimics your regular college schedule, you will avoid burnout.

4.   Do It Together

The truth is that you will not be in that classroom alone. While summer classes are known for having smaller class sizes, you will still be joined by at least a handful of classmates. These peers can be your ticket to beating the summer blues. Form a study group for a challenging night course, or plan a celebration at a local restaurant for classmates who survive that challenging quiz.

5.   Look for Alternative Coursework

If you’re still deciding on which classes to fill up your summer schedule with, try looking for different types of classrooms and opportunities. Internships, online coursework, and study abroad are all ways of making your summer courses feel less like school and more like an experience. Online classes, in particular, can also free up time if you commute.

6.   Plan a Vacation

Summer classes typically do not last the entirety of your time off, and even those that do offer students at least some small break. No matter how much time you may have, take it! Whether you head out of town for Fourth of July weekend or spend the week before fall classes on a beach, your summer vacation shouldn’t just be all studying. All school and no play will not help you study harder or pass a course quicker. Instead, enjoy the season, and celebrate your summer class triumphs.

How will you plan to stay focused during summer courses? Let us know in the comments!

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Tips to Relax During the Summer Break

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After months of finals, papers, meetings, and studying, summer is finally here! Your vacation should be spent rejuvenating both physically and mentally. Whether you are preparing for college or heading off to the “real world” in a few short months, these relaxation ideas will renew and revitalize you.

1.   Start a Meditation Practice

Need an instant pick-me-up? Meditation is your new best friend. The practice of training your mind to release stress or tension is not only healthy, but it will also set you up for success when you go back to the dorms this fall. A professionally led class can be a great way for beginners to understand how it works and to establish a practice, but if there are none available in your area, download a meditation podcast for a self-practice that’s accessible anytime, anywhere.

2.   Begin a Summer Bucket List Mission

If you’re the active type, write out your summer bucket wish list and get to it! It could include visiting museum you’ve been dying to go to or having a picnic with your friends. Big or small, include it all—you’ll be amazed at all that you can accomplish in three short months.

3.   Bring the Beach to Your Backyard

The beach is the ultimate destination for relaxation. But if you’re far from the coast or your budget doesn’t allow for a road trip to the ocean, bring the beach to your backyard! First, purchase an inexpensive lounge chair that is comfortable and portable (try to find one that could be reused in your dorm room as seating for maximum year round benefits). Next, pack a bag of beach necessities such as a good book, some sunscreen, and a fruity summer drink. Finally, take yourself to the nearest water feature. That may be next to your little brother’s kiddie pool or by a small lake or pond. Even if you cannot swim in it, just being by the water will revive your spirit.

4.   Take a Course for Fun

After 10 months of sitting in a desk year round, your mind is probably desperate for a break away from required coursework. However, just because you’re not forced to attend a class doesn’t mean you have to stop learning this summer. You can find great relaxation in enjoying a new subject that you have wanted to take. Many universities and community colleges use the summer to showcase “fun” or “fluff” classes like beginner guitar, level one languages, or film studies.

Bring along your friends to that art course, set up a regular beach day with your high school buddies, or meet up with your roommates to check off your summer wish list. Whatever you do to relax this summer, make it a vacation that will reconnect you with your goals and center your mind. With fall around the corner, it’s time to make the best of your time off. How do you plan to relax during the summer?

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Five Fun Summer Party Drinks

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Imagine this: you’re lounging poolside with your bathing suit on, friends all around, and sunglasses on your face. What’s missing? A delicious summer drink, of course! Forget the cold weather drinks. Warm, sunny weather provides the perfect excuse to experiment with new punches, smoothies, and juices. So fire up the blender, toss in some ice, and get out your garnishes—these drinks are the best accessory for a great day of relaxing and socializing.

Watermelon Bowl Punch

mld104271_0810_punchbowl3_vertDrinking straight from a coconut is so last year. Take it up a notch by serving your sippers from a new source: a miniature watermelon! Cute, fun, and naturally sweet, the watermelon bowl punch is a huge crowd-pleaser, especially at small, intimate gatherings. This recipe serves four.

Ingredients:

  • 2 seedless, miniature watermelons, halved horizontally
  • 16 oz. of 100% lemon juice
  • 4 cups of strawberries (frozen or unfrozen)
  • 1¼ cup of sugar
  • Ice as needed

How to Make:

  1. Remove the inside of the watermelons using a melon baller or large spoon and set aside.
  2. In a blender, combine balled watermelon with lemon juice, strawberries, and sugar. For a cooler, slushier drink, add ice. Blend well.
  3. Pour into watermelon and serve!

Cucumber and Mint Water

cucumbermintspritzerThe summer is the time to get healthy. Don’t spoil your improved eating or hard work at the gym by serving sugary, calorie-heavy drinks. Instead, bring out water with a twist! This concoction takes the delightfully light taste of cucumber and combines it with a hint of mint for flavor that’s both refreshing and hydrating. This recipe serves two, so adjust accordingly for additional guests.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cucumber, sliced and peeled
  • 1 lime, sliced
  • 4 large mint leaves
  • 3 ½ cups of water

How to Make:

  1. Place cucumber, lime, and mint leaves in bowl. Mash with an ice crusher or fork (pieces of the mixture should still be visible).
  2. Put mixture in a sealed large-mouth water bottle or jug and combine with water.
  3. Seal and shake vigorously for 30 seconds. Serve with ice.

A Berry Good Surprise

Mixed-Berry-CocktailBerries bring a tart sweetness that makes them ideal for creating a tasty, colorful drink. But they don’t need to be juiced or blended to a pulp to make that perfect refreshment for a sweltering day. Instead, you can surprise your guests with berried ice cubes that add a tangy zest to your typical summer fare. This recipe makes four servings.

Ingredients:

  • 8 oz. package of blueberries or raspberries
  • 1 package of dry cherry drink mix
  • 48 oz. of cranberry juice
  • Amount of sugar required by cherry mixture (usually about ¼ – ½ cup)

How to Make:

  1. Place berries in an ice tray and fill with water. Freeze until cubes form.
  2. Follow the cherry drink mix recipe, but replace water with cranberry juice. Stir until sugar dissolves.
  3. Add the “berry surprise” ice cubes and serve immediately.

Sophisticated Southern Lemonade

Kauck__MG_0876There is a reason lemonade is one of the most popular summertime beverages: it is both refreshing and delicious. But there’s no need to stick to the boring old recipes or resort to bland powder mixes. Instead, try this unique recipe, which adds vanilla and rosemary for a classy, adult taste that will get your party guests talking. Serves six.

Ingredients:

  • 6 cups of lemon juice (or 25-30 lemons squeezed)
  • 6 cups of water
  • 6 rosemary sprigs
  • 3 cups of sugar
  • 2 vanilla beans

How to Make:

  1. Mix rosemary, water, sugar, and vanilla beans in a large pot over medium heat, stirring frequently.
  2. Boil, then simmer for five minutes.
  3. Remove from heat and cool (approximately 30 minutes).
  4. Using a strainer and another large pot, remove solid remains from the mixture.
  5. Mix in lemon juice.
  6. Add ice cubes and pour into pitcher. Serve cold and fresh for best taste.

Classic Peach Tea

Perfect-sweet-Peached-Iced-Tea-Perfect-for-summer-and-pool-days.Every summer, Southerners gather at their homes, on their porches, and in their backyards to enjoy a classic seasonal treat: peach tea. Peach tea is as delectable as it is pretty to look at, and this recipe is sure to have your friends coming back for refills. You’ll need a pitcher for this one, as it makes enough for 8-10.

Ingredients:

  • 3 large black tea bags
  • 9 cups of water
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 2 peaches, sliced (plus extra peaches for garnish, if desired)

How to Make:

  1. Place 2 sliced peaches, 1 cup of water, and sugar in a pot to boil.
  2. Lower heat. Use a spoon to gently smash peaches and dissolve sugar.
  3. Cover pot and let simmer on very low heat for 25-30 minutes.
  4. While waiting, brew tea using remaining water and black tea bags.
  5. After it has steeped sufficiently, remove tea bags and place tea in the refrigerator while waiting for peaches to finish simmering.
  6. Remove pot from stove and add to the cool tea. Add additional peaches for flavor and look.

No summer party is complete without a fun, warm weather drink. Treat your guests right with a refreshment that will quench their thirst. With these five ideas in your recipe book, you’ll be ready to serve up sunshine in a glass. Do you have a favorite summer drink? Let us know in the comments!

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